Wine Advocate 87 points - The 2011 Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz is a blend of 62% Cabernet Sauvignon and 38% Shiraz that spends 10 months aging in oak comprised of 10% new American barrels and 5% new French barrels. Deep garnet-purple in color, the nose gives aromas of fresh black currant and blackberry, some red currant with undertones of charcoal, dried herbs and pepper with touches of mint. Medium to full-bodied, crisp and taut, it has medium levels of chewy tannins, decent fruit concentration but is a little bitter in the long finish. Drink it now to 2018. (Feb 2013)
Penfolds Bin wines were originally numbered to represent their initial post-bottling location; however recent additions have been numbered to suggest associations. Bin 8 for instance, is matured in oak previously used for other Bin wines containing the same number; Bin 389, Bin 128 and Bin 28. The figure eight is also a geometric shape of equal parts, perhaps symbolically mirroring the equity between cabernet sauvignon and shiraz.
Notwithstanding the final blend of components, each variety contributes equally to this wine’s overall character. The cabernet sauvignon proffers a perfumed, elegant structure, which partners perfectly with the more generous, richly flavoured shiraz.
|Australia’s winemaking history of less than two hundred years is brief by European measures though, like Europe, punctuated by periods of extreme success and difficult times. From the earliest winemaking days Penfolds has figured prominently and few would argue the importance of Penfolds’ influence on Australia’s winemaking psyche.
Without the influence of Penfolds the modern Australian wine industry would look very different indeed. Sitting comfortably outside of fad and fashion, Penfolds has taken Australian wine to the world on a grand stage and forged a reputation for quality that is without peer.
Penfolds’ reputation for making wines of provenance and cellaring potential might suggest a mantle of tradition and formality is the preferred attire of a company with so much history to defend. But to label Penfolds as simply an established and conventional winemaker, would be to confuse tradition with consideration and to overlook the innovative spirit that has driven Penfolds since its foundation, and continues to find expression in modern times.
If there is anything traditional about Penfolds, it is the practice of constantly reviewing the wines it already does well, and continuously evolving and refining styles as vineyards mature and access to ever older and more varied vineyard sites improves.