Penfolds Is Fielding A Strong Team

By Robert Parker

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The most acclaimed wine from Down Under is Penfolds Grange. Made primarily from shiraz (as syrah is known in Australia), Grange can age for 30 to 40 years. Even though production is high for wine of this quality, it can be difficult to find because of heavy demand. However, Penfolds is much more than just Grange, and its newest portfolio, which may be the strongest I have tasted in the past decade, includes a few super values. Following are some current and up-and-coming releases.

2005 Riesling Reserve Bin

90 points.

This crisp riesling exhibits notes of honeyed grapefruit, wet stones, rose petals, and figs. It should drink well for one to two years. $18

2003 Shiraz Bin 28 Kalimna

89 points.

Showing the cooler climate side of this varietal, this cuvée has white pepper, mint, red and black currant, underbrush, and spicy characteristics. This medium-bodied but substantial shiraz can be enjoyed over the next four to five years. $22

2004 GSM Bin 138

91 points.

This blend of 49% grenache, 40% shiraz, and 11% mourvèdre exhibits attractive sweet flower garden, kirsch, licorice, and chocolate characteristics. A medium- to full-bodied, lively, fleshy red that carries its 14.5% alcohol with precision and purity, it is an Australian version of a top French Côtes du Rhône that should drink well for five to six years. $25

2004 Shiraz/Cabernet Koonunga Hill

91 points.

An outstanding blend of 62% shiraz and 38% cabernet sauvignon aged in old 300-liter hogsheads, this dense purple-hued wine exhibits scents of blackberries, truffles, old leather, licorice, and pepper. Heady ripeness, a fleshy mouthfeel, decent acidity, and a long finish suggest it should drink well for 10 to 12 years. $25

2004 Chardonnay Reserve Bin 04A

91 points.

Bottled with a light filtration, it exhibits a big, smoky bouquet of hazelnuts, honeyed oranges, peaches, and apple blossoms. With good crispness, medium to full body, and a flamboyant, extroverted personality, it should be enjoyed for two to three years. $30

2003 Shiraz Magill Estate

94 points.

A deep ruby/purple color is accompanied by a perfume of graphite, acacia flowers, and toasty oak. The wine hits the palate with a plethora of flavors, including chocolate, spice box, fruitcake, black raspberries, blueberries, and cassis. Powerful yet elegant, it should drink well for 15 or more years. $50

2003 Shiraz RWT

96 points.

This powerful, complex, dark-purple-hued offering boasts blackberry, kirsch, mulberry, soy, and road tar aromas. Full-bodied, dense, and rich with beautifully integrated oak, it is more evolved and forward than the Magill or the Grange. Consume it now, or cellar it for 10 to 15-plus years. $70

2001 Grange

98+ points.

One of the few vintages of this cuvée composed of 100% shiraz, the 2001 Grange is undeniably one of the top examples of this wine. Inky/blue/purple to the rim, with a stunning perfume of blueberries, blackberries, chocolate, graphite, and earth, it boasts good acidity, huge tannins, magnificent concentration, and a multilayered, textured mouthfeel. It is a big but impeccably well-balanced shiraz that should shed some of its structure and tannin over the next four to five years and be at its best between 2010 and 2030-plus. $225

Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.

Visit www.eRobertParker.com for the Internet's most active wine bulletin board, tens of thousands of tasting notes, or to order his recent book, The World's Greatest Wine Estates: A Modern Perspective. You can also subscribe to Parker's newsletter, The Wine Advocate. Request a sample copy at: The Wine Advocate, P.O. Box 311, Monkton, MD 21111

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