Fleetingly, Ferrari-ingly tasted: Penfolds 2012 Bin Releases, including the 50th Bin 389

Never before have I attended a tasting where Ferrari drivers were advised to catch a taxi home….As they say, there’s a first time for everything.

It goes without saying that the addressees were not the journos, but rather Penfolds’ loyal customers at whom last night’s launch of their 2012 Bin Series was principally aimed.

Wanton flashiness? Certainly Penfolds are keen to consign any residual memories of deep discounting to the past, so the aspirational environment at HR Owen Ferrari dealers made absolute sense.

But there was another thread of logic, golden of course. Apparently the stars of tasting and showroom – Penfolds Bin 389 2009 and a rare Series I 250 GTO Ferrrai (owned by Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason) – both celebrate their 50th anniversaries this year.

Wines on tasting? Bin 311 Henty Chardonnay 2011, Bin 23 Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2011, Bin 138 Barossa Valley GSM 2010, Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz 2010, Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2009, Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz 2009 and, of course, Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2009, the 50th consecutive release.

My stand outs?  I confess, the jostle among cars worth many millions (the GTO alone valued at £20 million) plus a whiff of engine oil around said GTO, made for a slightly distracting environment in which to taste, but the 389 and 407, both from the 2009 vintage, showed terrific poise and balance for such powerful wines.

What’s more, though these days they are priced (RRPS) at £49.99 and £39.99 respectively, they’re at least an affordable luxury!   At a little under £20 each, Bins 138, 128 and 28 remain masterful, highly polished, interpretations of their genre.

Though the Chardonnay is very much in the modern Australian vein – aromatic, bright and finely tuned – at £29.99, I reckon there’s better value to be had elsewhere, especially if you’re a fan of funkier, more textured styles like me.  Similarly, though extremely well made, I personally prefer a more lifted, elegant style to the charcuterie and chocolate oak nuanced Bin 23 Pinot Noir, impressively chunky though it is, especially in 2011.  I salute the winemaking team.

In the UK, Slurp carry a wide range of Penfolds wines – older vintages as well as these latest releases.  I notice that Bin 389 is priced at £39.95 so, as always, it’s worth shopping around.

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