The annual Penfolds Collection reveal is a much-anticipated event on the wine calendar. The Australian winemaker – one of the nation’s oldest and largest – offers something that appeals to both casual drinkers and oenophiles alike.
Their iconic BIN (which stands for Batch Identification Number, and has no relation to price or quality) numerals has got to be one of the key ways fans have come to engage with the brand, with BIN 389 and 95 (aka Grange) among some of the most coveted and cellared.
Having just got our hands on the Penfolds 2021 Australia Collection (they’ve recently debuted their California Collection, so they’re differentiating them), which also marks the 70th anniversary of the Grange, we couldn’t wait to have a taste of all the various vintages featured.
In many ways, this year’s release is a much-anticipated one, what with Penfolds reeling from a tariff dispute between China and Australia, resulting in them losing one of their most important markets. All the more Penfolds available for us in this part of the world, we say. Here, we give our thoughts on the bottlings we tasted, and how we thought best to pair them with Asian delicacies.
Made from fruits grown in various cool-climate regions in Australia (namely Tasmania, Piccadilly, and Henty), the BIN 311 is an elegant white wine with good acidity that is best enjoyed as the first drink of the evening. It’s fruity and packs subtle minerality and creaminess, making it perfectly drinkable on its own, but truly shines when had with white meat like steamed chicken and yakitori skewers, or with cooked seafood like teriyaki salmon. But trust us and pair it with salted egg yolk sotong for the ultimate wallet-friendly indulgence.
BIN 144 Yattarna
Now this is one Chardonnay we’re happy to sip on its own, immersed in its bold and complex profile of toasted hazelnuts, sesame, and vanilla cream, intermingled with a fruity collage of grapefruit, lemon and pear. We found the well-loved Yattarna (the 2018 vintage was a hit) a great partner with braised pork dishes and ngoh hiang, as well as standing up well with rich fish items like steamed soy sauce halibut. And if you have the patience, the BIN 144 does benefit from bottle conditioning. Give it a year or two from now and it’ll be even more sublime. Seriously, this is a white you won’t want to miss.
[Read more: The electrifying approach of low-fi Australian wine]
Grape: Pinot Noir
Moving on to reds, this is the bottle to start with if you’re skipping whites altogether, yet want a fresh and fruity wine to start with. Lots of cranberry and cherry aromas in this one, with a slight hint of oak. We found stewed dishes like ayam buah keluak and pork kimchi jjigae to work wonders, and the fruitiness holds up well even with more intense items like chicken tikka masala. This year’s BIN 23 really showcases how far Penfolds have come with their Pinot Noirs, and if this level of refinement keeps up, we’re definitely sold on the premise.
Grape: Shiraz, Grenache, Mataro
The big, bold Barossa Valley Shiraz blends are still what many turn to Penfolds for. And the BIN 138 is the wine to get if you’re looking for some of that action without first going all the way. It stands out with hints of cooked red fruits and baking spices, being pronounced without being ostentatious. It’s a red that pairs surprisingly well with seafood too, but it all depends on the sauces and seasonings used. Try it with richer sushi items laced with shoyu, or just go straight for slathered-in-sauce unagi and anago dishes for a guaranteed good time. Personally, we’re having this with Teochew braised duck.
BIN 150 Marananga
Grapes from the Marananga sub-region of Barossa Valley produce some of the most true-to-terroir expressions we can find, and the BIN 150 is iconic of that. Deep, leathery, and spiced, layered with tones of dried plums and tobacco leaf, this is the kind of red you bring to a dinner party to spark spirited conversations. Yakiniku dishes are probably the easiest items to pair with, but be adventurous and try it with a mutton biryani or moo ping (Thai grilled pork skewers). The smokiness from these dishes truly complement the well-structured Shiraz. Apparently, now isn’t the best time to savour this vintage just yet (but we couldn’t resist). For peak drinking, Penfolds have suggested opening this one from 2024 onwards.
There are many more bottlings from the Penfolds 2021 Australia Collection we haven’t yet tried pairing with nosh from around our region. The BIN 389 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2019 and the BIN 95 Grange 2017 are undoubtedly in our sights, as well as the two brand new launches under what they’re calling the Superblends (Penfolds 802.A Cabernet Shiraz 2018 and Penfolds 802.B Cabernet Shiraz 2018).
But with the wines we’ve tasted so far, it already seems to be an exceptional release this year for Penfolds. We can’t wait to see and taste more of what they are producing next.
About the Author
Dannon Har is the Managing Editor of Spill. Discovering his innate gift for drinking only at a ripe age, he spares no time trying to find more delicious drops to imbibe during his time on Earth. When he’s not minding every detail at Spill, he spends his time concocting luscious libations and sharing them with folks that visit his home bar.