Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling 2019
The 2019 vintage is a story of quality over quantity. Like the rest of South Australia’s growing regions, Eden Valley had a very dry winter and spring. These conditions continued through summer with hot and dry weather in January and February. The prevailing conditions resulted in one of the lowest yielding vintages on record. The resultant dry conditions meant there was no disease pressure. Riesling grapes exhibited terrific varietal character, with bracing natural acidity.
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Penfolds has been producing remarkable wines since 1844 and indisputably led the development of Australian fine wine in the modern era. The introduction of Penfolds Grange in 1951 forever changed the landscape of Australian fine wine. Since then a series of stand-out wines both white and red have been released under the Penfolds masthead.
Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Winemaker and only the 4th custodian of Grange, relishes the opportunity to bring Penfolds to the world stage and is an enthusiastic ambassador and natural educator. Penfolds came to the attention of the US market when 1990 Grange was Wine Spectator’s ‘Wine of the Year’. Since then, Penfolds Grange has become one of the most collectable wines of the world and was honored to grace the front cover, once again, of Wine Spectator, with declarations of Grange as Australia’s Icon.
Higher in elevation and topographically more dramatic than the Barossa Valley floor, Eden Valley abuts it to its south and east. While it is a bit of an extension of Barossa, Eden Valley is topographically different than the pastoral Barossa Valley, and is composed of rocky hills and eucalyptus groves.
Recognizing Eden Valley’s potential with Riesling in the 1960s and 70s, producers started to move their Riesling production from Barossa to these better sites where schist soils on hilltops would produce more steely, tart and age-worthy examples. A most famous site, planted by Colin Gramp, called Steingarten, today produces one of the most outstanding Australian Rieslings. Youthful Eden Valley Rieslings express floral, grapefruit and mineral, while with time in the bottle, they become increasingly toasty and complex.
Riesling isn’t the only grape the region can grow; undeniably at lower altitudes Shiraz does very well. Mount Edelstone is a notable vineyard as well as the Hill of Grace, which boasts healthy Shiraz vines well over 100 years old. This is the only Australian region where Merlot has a made a name for itself and Chardonnay can be spectacular, particularly from the High Eden subregion in the southern valley.
Riesling possesses a remarkable ability to reflect the character of wherever it is grown while still maintaining its identity. A regal variety of incredible purity and precision, this versatile grape can be just as enjoyable dry or sweet, young or old, still or sparkling and can age longer than nearly any other white variety. Somm Secret—Given how difficult it is to discern the level of sweetness in a Riesling from the label, here are some clues to find the dry ones. First, look for the world “trocken.” (“Halbtrocken” or “feinherb” mean off-dry.) Also a higher abv usually indicates a drier Riesling.