2016 Penfolds Grange Bin 95

Year: 2016
Appellation: Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, Magill
Country: Australia
Wine Spectator: 97
Wine Advocate: 99
James Suckling: 98
Red Wine
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"A dynamic and distinctive red, balancing dark bass notes and fresh fruit. Dark chocolate–covered maraschino cherry and chai tea flavors form the core, but waves of white truffle, spicy cigar, gunpowder, white pepper, dried lavender, salted caramel, framboise and roasted almond are right behind. Dense, velvety tannins firm up on the finish, but the flavors are seamless and harmonious. Drink now through 2045. 879 cases imported. -MW" (WS)

"The 2016 Grange includes 3% Cabernet Sauvignon and was sourced from Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Clare Valley, with a little bit from Magill Estate, in the suburbs of Adelaide. Aged in 100% new American oak (as always), it offers up trademark lifted aromas plus scents of vanilla, toasted coconut, cedar, raspberries and blackberries. Impressively concentrated and full-bodied, with an extraordinarily long, velvety finish, it's nevertheless reasonably fresh and tight, with decades of cellaring potential if properly stored. Certainly at least on a par with such vintages as 2010 and 2012, the big question is whether it will ultimately reach triple digits.

Even via videoconferencing software and the sometimes glitchy technology of the internet, the infectious enthusiasm of Penfolds's chief winemaker, Peter Gago, comes through. Given the quality of what's in the bottle, his excitement seems warranted. "It's one of the strongest releases since I've been here," he said. "And I've been here 31 years."

The headlines in most media will no doubt zero in on the release of G4—a $3,000 blend of the 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2016 vintages of Grange in undisclosed proportions, although Gago would allow that there's "double-digit percentages of each one." The 2016 Grange is similarly excellent, at less than one-third the price. For most consumers, the biggest news is the superb quality of the 2018 wines, starting with the $40 reds (Bin 138 Shiraz-Grenache-Mataro, Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz and the Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz) and extending up through the range into the Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz and RWT Shiraz. If you're an inveterate Penfolds collector, you might see about putting in reservations for the 2018 St Henri and Grange now.

Big, corporate-owned wineries often take flak for being recipe-driven and not always treating their growers well, yet these wines—while they do share a certain "Penfolds style"—all show reasonably clear distinctions when tasted together. Gago also pointed out that the Gersch family—whose grapes appear in the 2016 Bin 111A (released last year) and 2016 Grange—recently delivered their 100th consecutive vintage to the Penfolds winery.

Given that Penfolds produces relatively large volumes of many of these wines (there are more than 18,000 cases of the Bin 389 for the American market alone, and nearly 900 cases of Grange for the US), it deserves enormous credit for flying the Australian flag and backing it up with high-quality wines." (WA)

"A blend of 97% shiraz and 3% cabernet sauvignon from Barossa, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley and Magill Estate. This is a very intense Grange with such rich black-fruit, tar and coal-smoke aromas together with iodine and black-olive notes and an array of wild dark herbs. Almost impenetrable dark plums and licorice, as well as bacon fat. The palate has such seamless delivery of intense blackberry and plum flavors with some redder tones emerging, too. The power here is countered by such freshness and an almost elegant feel. This has such impressive, vibrant, long and seamless fruit power. Really is exceptionally complete, but tight, needs time to open. Very enjoyable now, but better after 2023." (JS)