Stellar Grange headlines Penfolds' 2019 collection

Executive Traveller was among the world's first to taste and rate the much-anticipated Penfolds 2019 release.

By Nick Stock, August 8 2019

Every year, almost like clockwork, Penfolds' latest collection of around 15 wines is sent – along with chief winemaker Peter Gago – on a global whirlwind of tastings, lunches and dinners.

With such an event taking place in London, not far from where I was on assignment in Châteauneuf-du-Pape in France, it would have been rude not to pop in and sample the latest and greatest from Australia’s most storied winemaker.

So I swapped the shorts, slides and cool underground cellars of Châteauneuf for trousers, a jacket and the top floor of Mortons, a private members’ club in upmarket Mayfair.

London was quite literally in meltdown on a more-than-balmy July day, experiencing the kind of weather the English don’t expect, or enjoy. As an Australian, it was a heady mix of familiar and foreign territory. With sweat-beaded brows, we collectively settle into one of the year’s most important tastings.

Executive Traveller joins an exclusive tasting of thePenfolds 2019 release.

Fellow Australian Gago was unfazed, focusing on the task of presenting his wines to a mostly British media pack, and wielding a welcome cool tube of the latest 2019 Bin 51 Riesling on arrival.

That cool, crisp lemony Eden Valley Riesling led to a brace of very chic chardonnays (including the top Penfolds white, Yattarna) and through a procession of their famous Bin series reds all the way to a very fine finishing post – Grange 2015.

The highest of expectations

Australia’s most famous wine is a big deal. Hovering only a handful of small notes under $1000 per bottle, it emerges each year with the highest of high expectations attached.

If I asked you what is one special thing about Penfolds, you’d more than likely tell me it is Grange.

It's all about the Grange, and this latest Grange will be remembered as one of the greats.

That may be true, but the DNA of this 175-year-old winemaking company is what sets it apart from most other famous wine companies today. It underwrites an ability to deliver such consistent quality.

The Penfolds method of delivering this set of high-end bottles to the highest level is all about blending wines together from various sources, and it is this wide-reaching ability to craft quality that really makes the difference.

That means that come rain, hail or shine, the quality of each wine can be found, built and assembled from a vast armoury of high-grade, mostly South Australian grapes, almost all of the time. 

How good is Penfolds Grange 2015? 

The new Grange 2015 is very, very good. Exceptional, in fact. This is a wine that will be remembered in years to come as one of the great Grange releases. It will be gifted, swapped, cellared and tucked away for later.

On the latter topic, this 2015 vintage will run a veritable Melbourne Cup in the cellaring stakes. Don’t expect it to start to peak until 2030 – or maybe another decade after that. For now, this Grange is a trophy to seek, buy, store and forget for some time. A black-fruited muscular powerhouse, it needs a good, long rest.

The collection offers plenty of rock-solid drinking in the meantime, and also much for those uninclined to spend a grand on a great bottle. And here’s where that Penfolds DNA comes into play.

Of the other 10 red wines offered in this year’s collection, eight are from the 2017 vintage, one that was unseasonably cooler and wetter across major South Australia wine regions – the heartland of Penfolds’ grape supply.

Executive Traveller joins an exclusive tasting of thePenfolds 2019 release.

Penfolds St Henri 2016: an elegant indulgence

The quality is gathered and crafted in a way that really demonstrates the depth of resource and experience of the winemaking team led by Gago.

Look to the 2017 Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon as one of the standout wines still at an affordable price, as this wine benefited from the decision not to bottle the top pair of cabernet sauvignon wines, Bin 707 and Bin 169. You have to admire the guts it takes not to release wines that aren’t up to par; enjoy the spoils via the junior Bin 407.

The Penfolds line-up has something for everyone, with the St Henri deserving of special mention.

There’s only one wine from 2016 in the collection, and that's the iconic and classic St. Henri. It is a stunning edition of this elegant, stately counterpoint to the raw power of Grange and one for the true connoisseur.

This 2016 St. Henri also tellingly points to the fact that there’s an outstanding 2016 Grange to follow in the footsteps of 2015. You have a year to save for that one.

Meanwhile, this 2019 Penfolds Collection rises in intensity, soars in price and reaches a pinnacle of greatness in the newly-released 2015 Grange. There’s something for everyone here. Just be sure to put a few in the cellar.

Nick Stock

Nick Stock is one of Australia’s most popular and well-travelled wine critics, covering great wine from all corners of the globe.

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