The first day of May 2014 will see the launch of Penfolds’ greatest wine. And while first thoughts will be of the new release Penfolds Grange 2009, it will be Penfolds Bin 170 Kalimna Vineyard Block 30C Barossa Valley Shiraz 2010 that from that day, will shine as arguably Australia’s greatest wine.
Bin 170 is sourced exclusively from old vines planted in the unique soil of Block 3C, Kalimna Vineyard. The Bin number has been released only once before with the 1973 vintage. This release of Bin 170 commemorates Penfolds’ 170th Anniversary.
Penfolds’ first experimental Bin 170 was born in 1973 from Block 3C of its 19th century Kalimna Vineyard, almost blended with Bin 169 Cabernet, were it not for a last minute directive to keep it separate. In 2010, the same 3C component that would normally contribute to Grange was identified as something very special aromatically during fermentation, and released under the same Bin number to commemorate Penfolds’ 170th in 2014. Early identification permitted fermentation in 100% new French oak rather than the American oak Grange program. I first encountered this wine in the Rewards of Patience tastings eighteen months ago, where I rated it among the top half dozen Penfolds’ Special Bins of the past five decades. It’s an impossibly impenetrable, deep black, with a fluorescent purple rim. The bouquet is potently concentrated and breathtakingly focused, with lifted violets, textbook precise blackberries and plums, becoming black olives, liquorice and coal dust with time in bottle. The palate is a sheer epiphany of epically built power and integrity, with purity of unremitting precision, astonishingly generous and open fruit, yet at every moment coiled and tightly sprung, with beautifully fine, intoxicatingly pronounced tannins. Dark chocolate and coffee oak is already supremely integrated. The ultimate expression of that mesmerising character of 2010 to marry approachable integration with enduring longevity. Is it worth $1,800? It would be, were it First Growth Bordeaux or Grand Cru Burgundy. Bin 170 is every bit in the same league. Cork sealed, sadly. Drink: 2035-2050 99 points – Tyson Stelzer
So the question will be asked again and again. Perhaps not at the front bar of your local, maybe dinner party conversation over the next few Saturday nights. Is it worth $1,800 a bottle? There will some, and you know who you are, that will seek out this prize, regardless of the price. After all, they know it is the best Australian wine because they have been told that and now they know.
And it is exclusive. Declaring that point is the neck collar; only 5,544 bottles will be released by Penfolds. At under 500 dozen bottles, and I think I mentioned it retails at $1,800 a bottle, Bin 170 fits firmly in the space occupied by elite First Growth Bordeaux, and Grand Cru Burgundy. To be fair, Penfolds easily sits in this company with its best wines.
Penfolds Bin 170 Kalimna Vineyard Block 30C Barossa Valley Shiraz 2010 is not the only wine in the Penfolds’ Icon and Luxury Range that will be released on 1 May 2014. To read more about the other wines that will be released, see our article Penfolds’ Icon and Luxury Wines Release.