2018 Penfolds Cabernet-Shiraz Bin 389

Year: 2018
Appellation: South Australia
Country: Australia
Wine Advocate: 93
James Suckling: 97
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.5%
Price :
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"Hints of toasted coconut accent big cassis aromas on the nose of the 2018 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, which is a 57-43 blend this vintage. Full-bodied, with cherry flesh complementing the sterner cassis and tobacco notes, it's supple enough to be approachable now, yet with the concentration and requisite dusty tannins on the long finish to support more than a decade of aging

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 57% cabernet sauvignon and 43% shiraz, this has a very impressively complete feel, a hallmark of the 2018 vintage wines, and there’s a myriad of characters with cabernet’s cedary and gently herbal notes sitting atop a core of rich red-plum and dark-berry shiraz fruit aromas. So integrated. The palate has a very silky texture, so plush and polished with a wealth of rich and intense dark-plum, dark-berry and blackcurrant flavors. The oak is completely soaked with ripe, fresh fruit. This is a great Bin 389. Drink over the next two decades. Screw cap." (JS)

Winery Notes:
Created by the legendary Max Schubert - creator of Penfolds Grange - Bin 389 is often referred to as 'Poor Man's Grange' or 'Baby Grange', in part because components of the wine are matured in the same barrels that held the previous vintage of Grange.

First made in 1960, this was the wine that helped to build Penfolds solid reputation with red wine drinkers. Combining the structure of Cabernet with the richness of Shiraz, Bin 389 also exemplifies Penfolds skill in balancing fruit and oak.