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Penfolds Bin 138, vintage 2012

Intense purple with tight garnet rim. Very bright, almost glittering. No need to swirl: the red fruits (raspberry, currants and berries) and violets come to you. On palate, mixed fruitcakes rounded by kirsch, white chocolates, mocha coffee and jellybeans. Tannins are round and ample. Full bodied. While there are lots of legs (a whopping 14.5% abv ) inside the glass, the palate is both intense and soft and don’t feel the alcohol as it is fruity with nice acidities.

This particular tasting profile may seem to you ‘New World’ decidedly(yet it is Barossa), yet this Bin 138 vintage 2012 does have an ‘Old World’ savoury touch and taste Rhonish, in the sense that SGM more here than GSM, and aged(some say 6 years old) for 12 to 15 months in American 400-litre barrels.Outside Northern Rhone, this is a real choice at a fraction of the price for a quality SGM. As always, this is a very understated wine because it takes many a special wine lover in Hong Kong to love SGM or GSM by heart. And almost all Bin 138 lives for 10 to 20 years. Less than 2000 bottles are made? From Penfolds?

This wine has a long development history. The experimental bin of this ‘Penfolds’ answer to commercial Rhones’ started 1992 and became official as a commercial offer in 1998. The composition varies every year, depending on the wine character. And thus lots of creativity can be been put in.

Scores are high enough to make you feel proud. JH94, JS93, RP91+.

Leading Tastings as follows:

  1. 94 points James Halliday. A vintage well suited to this blend of 66/23/11% shiraz/grenache/mataro, creating a wine of even flow, lively acid balance and firm, finely textured tannin support. Violet fragrance and well-defined berry fruits are layered with pepper and spice, confirming a restrained, poised and ageworthy Bin 138, set to go down among the greats.

  2. 93 points James Suckling. The blend in 2012 is shiraz (66%), grenache (23%) and mataro (11%) and shows a wealth of red and blue fruits on offer with attractive brambly summer berry aromas, quite fresh and fragrant, some tarry blue fruits too. The palate has tangy juicy appeal, a stylish and elegant vintage for Bin 138 with plenty of immediate appeal. Dark summer berry flavours, supple swirling tannins and terrific balance here. One of the best value Penfolds reds this year.

  3. 91 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. 91+ points. A blend of 66% Shiraz, 23% Grenache and the balance Mataro, the deep garnet-purple colored 2012 Bin 138 Shiraz Grenache Mataro opens to red currants and black raspberry fragrances with hints of Chinese Five Spice, roses and black pepper. With tons of sweet, red berry fruit in the mouth enhanced by a gentle spiciness, the structured, medium level of rounded tannins and lively acid holds through the long finish. 1,842 bottles were made. Drink it now to 2019+. (LPB)

  4. Jancis Robinson. The wine was elevated to the Bin range with the 1998 Bin 138. Sourced from old, low-yielding Barossa Valley vines, this is one of the few wines that remains in component form during older, oak maturation and is blended just prior to bottling. 66% Shiraz, 23% Grenache, 11% Mataro from the Barossa Valley. TA 6.2 g/l, pH 3.62. 12 months in seasoned American oak hogsheads. Components are kept separate until the last minute because Grenache is more unpredictable. Deep, dark and perfumed, even a little floral. But there's sweet blueberry fruit too. Lots of juicy fruit. And very lively and refreshing. Old and bigger oak to retain perfume and fruit. Plush and generously fruited, sweet dark fruit. Softly chewy tannins. Caressing. Subtle in its sweetness. (JH) (2/2014)

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