26 September 2023

Two Rare Penfolds Treats

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By Christine Salins.


It would be hard to find an Australian wine drinker who hasn’t heard of the Penfolds name. Branding a label iconic is done all too easily and often undeservedly, but Penfolds is one that can rightly lay claim to being called iconic.

Its history and pedigree, its winemaking precision and pursuit of excellence, and yes, even its collectability, are all hallmarks of the company founded in South Australia in 1844.

The best-known wine in its collection is of course Grange, a name that has reached all corners of the globe, commanding a reverence from collectors worldwide, with prices to match.

Earning its place among the Penfolds icons is Bin 707, a rich and powerful Cabernet Sauvignon first vintaged in 1964. Interestingly, it was named after the Boeing 707, the aircraft that brought Australia closer to the rest of the world during the ‘60s (breaking with Penfolds’ tradition of using storage bin numbers).

It was a joy (and a rare treat) to recently open a 1993 vintage of Bin 707, alongside a 2004 vintage of Bin 407, a Cabernet Sauvignon that was designed to be a pared-down and more affordable version of the Bin 707. The first Bin 407 was the 1990 vintage released in 1993.

To give you an idea of what these wines are worth today, the 2004 vintage of Bin 407 sells on the secondary market for around $110 to $170, and the 1993 Bin 707 from $600 to $1000. (This is a rough guide only.) Langton’s classifies both wines as ‘Excellent’.

Needless to say, it was a happy evening in the company of good friends who appreciated the moment.

First impressions were how amazingly fresh both wines were, with great colour, generosity of fruit and structure. The wines had been cellared privately and carefully from the time of purchase. (Oh to have had the foresight to put more away!)

The 2004 Bin 407 was under screw cap and was just lovely as soon as it was opened.

The 1993 Bin 707 under cork was considerably more closed. After about an hour of decanting, it was only just starting to reveal its character. We probably should have given it more time but were too eager to wait any longer.

The vast majority of wine consumed in Australia is enjoyed within a few hours of purchase, and few can afford the luxury of buying expensive wines on the secondary market. What a treat then to taste some rare older wines that were squirreled away for future enjoyment.

Penfolds 2004 Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon: A blend of regions (McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Coonawarra, Bordertown, Langhorne Creek). Matured for 12 months in a combination of new and old French and American oak. 14% alcohol. Opened to reveal a glorious deep purple red colour and aromas of nutmeg and chocolate. Medium to full-bodied with smooth well-integrated tannins and a long, firm finish. Rich with blackberry, blueberry and cherry notes, along with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and licorice all-sorts. Very stylish.

Penfolds 1993 Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon: From an excellent vintage in Coonawarra with smaller parcels of Padthaway and Adelaide Hills fruit added for flavour and complexity. New American oak, 13.5% alcohol. Dark ruby red in colour with complex and lively aromas after an hour of decanting. Powerful, full-bodied, rich and earthy, with fine tannins and enticing chocolate/mocha, cinnamon, prune and blackberry notes. Hints of mint. An opulent long finish – may the pleasure continue!

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