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First set of Penfolds’ Luxury & Icon wines released on La Place

Penfolds’ first release of its Luxury & Icon collection through La Place de Bordeaux takes place tomorrow (30 January). db‘s Bordeaux correspondent Colin Hay gives his verdict on the wines.

Australian wine exports - a Penfolds cork

One of the biggest fine wine revelations of 2023 was undoubtedly the news that Penfolds’ was to release its entire Luxury & Icon collection through La Place de Bordeaux. As we enter Penfolds’ 180th year, the date of the first release is now almost upon us. Wines will be released tomorrow (30 January) at 2pm throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) through a select pool of négociants managed by the courtier, Excellence Vin.

The selected pool of negociants includes: Barrière Frères, CVBG, Descaves, Duclot, JP Moueix, Ginestet, Sichel, The Wine Merchant, Joanne Rare Wines, Ulysse Cazabonne, and Veyret Latour. Each set to play a pivotal role in bringing these iconic Australian wines to a broader audience.

The aim is to leverage the Bordeaux négociants extensive networks in each region, as the release detailed the news last year made clear. Penfolds hopes it will helping to further strengthen its reputation, and unlock the significant further potential the brand sees within the luxury segment of the category for prestige Australian wines.

The six-strong Luxury & Icon range comprises Penfolds flagship wines, Grange, Yattarna Bin 144 Chardonnay, Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bin 789 RWT Shiraz, Bin 169 Cabernet Sauvignon and St Henri Shiraz.

As Daevid Warren, sales director for Penfolds EMEA, said at the time, the distribution gains “made to date with our trade partners across the EMEA region have been exceptional and are testament not only to the quality of our wines, but also to their hard work and belief in Penfolds. However, with some of the most significant fine wine markets in the world, there remains great potential for Penfolds in EMEA yet to be unlocked.”

Next level

He noted that as it entered its 180th year, Penfolds was “looking to take the brand to the next level by establishing new routes to market, as well as delivering exceptional marketing programmes to drive greater awareness of Penfolds as a global luxury icon of the wine world. We’re therefore delighted to be reinforcing our first-class team of distributors in the region for our Luxury & Icons range with a selected group of 11 negociants, partnering with Excellence Vin, the leading historical expert for the introduction of the iconic wines of the world on La Place de Bordeaux.”

Speaking for Excellence Vin, Jeremy Quievre added that this marked an important step for Penfolds and for La Place.

He said: “We are grateful for their trust and the professionalism that has been brought to this project since the first day of our collaboration.

“By deciding to entrust the distribution of its iconic labels to the Place de Bordeaux for part of the world, Penfolds relies on the know-how and efficiency of the Bordeaux Open Market model, thus allowing connoisseurs and lovers of fine wines to gain access to its iconic cuvées.”

Bin 169

As followers of La Place will know, Penfolds’ Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon has been distributed by a select group of Bordeaux négociants since the 2018 vintage. The initial allocation sold out within the first few months after release in September 2021.

Penfolds became a separate business entity within the Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) business in 2021, with dedicated Penfolds teams in regions around the world taking care of sales, finance and marketing.

Penfolds EMEA is headquartered in Twickenham in the UK and has team members across Europe and the Middle East.

Penfolds will be present at Vinexpo Paris in February as it launches the celebrations for its 180th anniversary across the world.

Tasting notes for the January releases

Tasting notes for the January releases (tasted in Paris in October 2023 other than Bin 169 which was tasted in Paris in January 2024).

  • Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 (100% Cabernet Sauvignon; sourced from Coonawarra, Barossa Valley and Wrattonbully; pH 3.65; aged for 16 months in new American oak hogsheads; 14.5% alcohol). An incredibly pure, precise and focussed wine, charged with bright, crisp, crunchy fresh berry fruit and fifty shades of Cabernet cassis. Tensile tannins, with grain but exquisite finesse. This is vivid, vibrant, energetic and dynamic in its clarity and luminosity. A tidal wave of fresh berries. The fruit is tightly coiled and strapped to the well-defined, chiselled backbone. It glides over the palate, glistening as it does so and releasing little eddies and undercurrents of fresh fruit and juicy sapidity. The oak is almost imperceptible and this is remarkably accessible already. Great indeed. 98 (RRP: £475; €550).


  • Grange 2019 (97% Shiraz and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon; sourced from Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra and Clare Valley; pH: 3.62; aged for 19 months in new American oak hogsheads; 14.5% alcohol). More classical than the 2018 and a tad more austere – but I rather like that. Glorious. Cordite. Incense. Embers. A hint of truffle. Mulberry and mulberry compote, a little blueberry, bramble and Kalamata tapenade. A gamey note; venison Bresaola perhaps. Gorgeous. Radiant and glistening in its mid-palate limpidity and luminosity. Chocolate. Hoisin. Chinese five spice. Szechuan peppercorns, freshly crushed. This has great clarity, precision and focus. There’s beautiful integrity and harmony here too. The early integration of the fruit in this is so important for that sense of holism here – everything here is as one. Seamless, with plunge pool coolness in the mid-palate. Salinity and sapidity combine on the sensuous finish. The tannins are incredibly fine-grained. Wondrous with so much composure and refinement. 98+ (RRP: £600; €700).


  • Bin 169 Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 (100% Cabernet Sauvignon; sourced from Coonawarra; aged for 16 months in French oak, just over half of which is new; pH 3.65; 14.5% alcohol). A very classic expression of this iconic Penfolds release, now in its fourth year on la place de Bordeaux and, for the first time, to be released alongside the 5 other members of .Penfolds’ ‘Luxury & Icon’ range. Rich, intensely dark-berry fruited and with copious sweet aromatic spices – Chinese five spice, clove, nutmeg, a touch of vanilla and a glorious, gracious cedar-coated walnut note too. Succulent, plump and ample on the palate but with an impressive clarity and sense of precision and with ultra-fine grained tannins, this is beautifully made and very impressive indeed. As fine a Bin 169 as I can recall. Already engaging and accessible, but this will reward patience. 96+ (RRP: £170; €200).


  • Yattarna Bin 144 Chardonnay 2018 – not yet tasted (RRP: £135; €159).


  • RWT Bin 798 Barossa Valley Shiraz 2018 – not  yet tasted (RRP: £130; €150).


  • St Henri Shiraz 2019 – not yet tasted (RRP: £80; €99).

Wines already released globally in the 2023 collection 

*(tasted in Paris in October 2023 other than St Henri Shiraz which was tasted in Paris in January 2024).

  • Yattarna Bin 144 Chardonnay 2021 (100% Chardonnay, sourced as follows: Tasmania, 81%; Tumbarumba, 10%; and Adelaide Hills, 9%; pH 3.1; aged for 9 months in French oak barrels, 70% of which were new; 13% alcohol; 20% of the fruit that would normally go into this I is being retained for ‘V’, the experimental multi-vintage edition of this wine). The name ‘Yattarna’, Peter Gago tells me, means essentially ‘little by little’. It’s come a long way and this, alongside the 2018, is the finest vintage to date. It is also perhaps the finest southern hemisphere Chardonnay that I have ever tasted. Very beautiful. Very stylish. Very sleek but fabulously rich at the same time – and with all the tension that implies. Green-hued. Very youthful and nascent but with such great potential. Wet stone minerality. Very lifted and aerial, pure, intense and sensuous. Yuzu. Saffron. Candlewax. Lime zest. Pink grapefruit. Oyster shell. Lime cordial. Almond. This is spot-light bright and window-shatteringly crisp. Laser-like in both its intensity and its freshness. Redcurrant leaf. Poised and coiled, tense and energetic. Super-pure. Rich but with no impression of richness so direct, linear and focussed is it. I love it. So much potential and the precision and clarity as the 2018 shows will only be enhanced by bottle-aging. The prospect is salivating. 98.


  • RWT Bin 798 Barossa Valley Shiraz 2021 (100% Barossa Valley Shiraz; aged for 14 months in French oak, 80% of which is new; pH 3.69; 14.5% alcohol). Hyper-pure and more open and expressive aromatically than the 2020 was this time last year. Fluid. Crystalline – impressively so. So well-delineated in and through the mid-palate and nicely layered too; a serious and accomplished wine. Pure, precise, engaging and dynamic. Chiselled and shapely. Sapid on the finish and with a lovely touch of saline liquorice to herald the finale. Cloves. Green peppercorns. The oak use and incorporation is impeccable. 96+.


  • St Henri Shiraz 2020 (100% Shiraz; sourced from McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley and Clare Valley; pH 3.62; aged for 12 months in large format seasoned French oak; 14.5% alcohol; under cork at least for the European market). There’s no new oak here. Marginally less substantial than its siblings in the ‘Luxury & Icon’ range, though hardly delicate. It is less ample too but with the same tight-to-the-spine linear profile. I find this impressively well-delineated by the tannins. Pure, clear and limpid, if a little less so than, say, the Bin 798. The tannins are soft, but a shade more granular in profile. This is super too, if a little less complex. Graphite notes, with dusty baked earth mineral tones too, a little hint of beetroot and a little charcuterie. Very fine. 95.

30 January: Tasting notes edited to reflect a last minute change in the line-up of wines for sale. 

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