2016 Penfolds Shiraz St. Henri

Year: 2016
Appellation: Barossa Valley, Langhorne Creek, Adelaide Hills
Country: Australia
Wine Spectator: 95
Wine Advocate: 96
James Suckling: 98
Jeb Dunnuck: 97+
Wine Enthusiast: 95
Red Wine
Price :
$89.95

"Shows plenty of oomph and verve to the core of blackberry and blueberry flavors, with pops of minerally loam, licorice, black pepper and oolong tea. The tannins are fine-grained and dense, but this remains fresh overall, delivering vibrant juiciness that lends focus and energy to the long, expressive finish. Drink now through 2035. 690 cases imported. -MW" (WS)

"The 2016 St Henri Shiraz is one of the finest St Henris I've ever tasted, rivaling the likes of the 1986 or 1976. It's concentrated and rich, the essence of South Australia Shiraz (although it's been lightened by the addition of 5% Cabernet Sauvignon), unleavened by any new oak. Dark and tarry, it delivers notes of espresso and black olive, plummy fruit and roasted meat. Full-bodied and dense on the palate, it ends long, dark and savory.

It's always a treat to sit with Chief Winemaker Peter Gago and taste through the latest releases from Penfolds. Despite losing one of his suitcases (thankfully, not the one with the newly bottled 2019 Bin 51 Riesling), he was in good humor, having just gone on a Manhattan clothes-shopping spree. The bulk of this year's wines come from the challenging 2017 vintage, but with the wide net Penfolds casts to source fruit, the winery seems capable of maintaining a remarkable degree of consistency. There are always a few wines from years on either side as well. Standouts this year include the dense, age-worthy 2016 St Henri Shiraz. This is a wine that never sees new, small-format oak, as it is aged in large oak vats. The 2017 RWT Shiraz (all Barossa Valley, all French oak) is a perennial favorite of mine, and it is reassuringly excellent. These wines differ stylistically from one another and from the flagship Grange, which is aged in new American oak hogsheads. This year's Grange release is the 2015, another strong effort. The biggest splash among this year's lineup is the debut of a new $1,700 Shiraz. The 2016 Bin 111A Shiraz is a blend of Clare Valley and Barossa Valley fruit previously ticketed for Grange, aged 18 months in new French hogsheads. It would be easy to dismiss it as another cynical marketing ploy, but it's yet another unique expression of Shiraz and the quality lives up to the lofty price tag. For the one-percenters lucky enough to snare a bottle or two, it'll provide immense pleasure for decades to come." (WA)

"This is a much anticipated vintage for St. Henri, and it does not disappoint. The complexity of fruit here is stunning, together with a very complex and playfully fragrant, spicy edge with graphite, roasted coffee and woody spices, framing a core of very fresh blackberries, red and dark cherries and blueberries. So fresh and brimming with fruit aromas. The palate has a stunning array of deeply fleshy fruit flavors with a superb sense of length and powerful, ripe tannin, underpinning vibrant, fleshy fruit that is beautifully assembled in a refined, elegant and impressively pure mode. So long and pure. Silky and elegant. A real masterpiece, taking its place among the finest vintages like 2010, 1990 and 1971. 95% shiraz and 5% cabernet sauvignon. Drink over the next three decades." (JS)

"The St. Henri cuvée is always brought up all in neutral oak casks, and the 2016 is a blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, with just 690 cases produced. This was a great vintage for South Australia, and this blockbuster sports a deep purple color as well as a dense, powerful, meaty bouquet of smoked black fruits, chocolate, bouquet garni, bay leaf, mint, and plenty of earthy minerality. Reminding me of an Hermitage from the likes of Delas Frères, it’s full-bodied and incredibly concentrated, with a stacked mid-palate and loads of ripe tannins. Backward and mostly potential at this point, it’s nevertheless a thrilling Shiraz readers should give 4-5 years of bottle age and it will knock your socks off over the coming two decades. " (JD)

"The latest St. Henri has all the polished, chocolaty plushness Penfolds is so known for, but this bottling is particularly comfortable in its own skin, and seems set for a longer time in cellar than Penfolds Grange. It's denser, with more earthy, olivey, charred oak notes than the brand's most famous wine—and also wildly more affordable—with fleshy plum and brambly berry fruit woven into those more barrel-derived secondary notes. Despite its velvety opulence, it's not bombastic. Tannins are muscular and spicy and also precise and refined, knitting together the plump fruit. Drink 2023–2040 and likely longer. Christina Pickard" (WE)

Winery Notes:
Penfolds St Henri is a highly successful and alternative expression of Shiraz and an intriguing counterpoint to Grange. It is unusual among high quality Australian red wines as it does not rely on any new oak. It was created in the early 1950s (first commercial vintage 1957) and gained a new lease of life in the 1990s as its quality and distinctive style became better understood.

St Henri is rich and plush when young, gaining soft, earthy, mocha-like characters as it ages. It is matured in old, 1460-litre vats that allow the wine to develop, imparting minimal, if any oak character. Although a small proportion of Cabernet is sometimes used to improve structure, the focal point for St Henri remains Shiraz.