Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz 2015
Deep magenta, foreboding core. The nose is Instantly recognizable. First impression – Penfolds. Second – St Henri. Wafts ascend akin to roasted meats – seared crust of venison, game meats. Then a sprinkling of crushed kola nut, star anise, black licorice, quince paste. A further swirl or two unleashes more familial St Henri markers of dark chocolate ganache and a biscotti nuttiness. Palate is complete, no gaps – spills across the palate avec a coating of fine (emery paper) polished tannins – inducing a ‘St Henri silkiness’. An assertive wedge of fruit – dark berried – boysenberry, loganberry, and blackberry – á la ‘Fruits of the Forest’. Yet, there’s much more – certainly not only appealing fruit, friendly tannins and balance. Add: luminosity, buoyancy, vibrancy, harmony … quite the package! Needs some time in bottle to unfurl, complex … ever so youthful, yet dangerously accessible. Patience.
Blend: 93% Shiraz and 7% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Described by Peter Gago as the antithesis of a ‘show wine’, Penfolds' much loved and admired St Henri Shiraz continues to plough its own furrow in glorious style. In many ways it is a superb counterpoint to the more senior Grange, having been aged in large, old oak vats. The nose here is cocoa powder and summer pudding with a touch of mocha. This segues onto a palate of red and black fruits, dark chocolate, graphite and liquorice. St Henris are usually built for the long haul thanks to their acidity, fruit and densely populated tannins, and this is no exception. Superbly structured, juicily vibrant, sweet and balanced, this is tempting to broach now. However, I’d leave it for a couple of decades and wait for the magic to unfurl.
Drinking Window 2017 - 2040
Aged for 12 months in over 50-year old large wooden vats, St. Henri shows refreshing little oak when compared to some of the brand’s other premium reds. It’s still unmistakably Penfolds, though: rich and polished. The nose is a downright pretty mix of sun-ripened blueberries, mocha, violets, black olives and touches of fresh eucalyptus leaves and Middle Eastern spices. There’s power on the palate but elegance too. Silky with an evenhanded grip of savory fine tannins, the fruit is ripe and plush and set up for aging. Drink now, with decanter and protein at hand, or cellar through 2029.
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.
Though Syrah originated in the Rhône Valley of France, Australia is home to the oldest Syrah (called Shiraz here) vines on the planet. Found in Australia’s Barossa Valley, where phylloxera has never threated viticulture, these ancient vines are between 140 to 175 years old!
Having brought fame and merit to the country’s wine scene since the early 1950s, namely via the debut of Penfolds Grange, today Syrah (Shiraz) claims rank as the most widely planted grape in Australia. In fact, the amount of land dedicated to Shiraz in Australia is now almost equivalent to what it is in France. Australian Shiraz has its own personality with flavors and aromas of intense blackberry, fruitcake, menthol, tobacco leaf and umami. Conveniently one can find great Australian Shiraz at a variety of price points but the very best will be dense, gloriously complex and capable of long aging.