Koonunga Hill is very much a reflection of the Penfolds winemaking style and philosophy. Since the first vintage in 1976 of Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet, the brand’s reputation has been built on widespread acclaim. Koonunga Hill Seventy Six Shiraz Cabernet was released from the 2006 vintage, thirty years after the original wine and pays homage to a remarkable, long-lived style. It is a refined version of its stablemate and shows “extra dimension and complexity. Since its inception, Penfolds Koonunga Hill has always aimed to deliver quality, value and consistency. The original 1976 Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet is a legendary wine that is still drinking well today, with numerous bottles still taken to the Penfolds Red Wine Re-corking Clinics by collectors who know of its quality and longevity.
Vintage started slightly earlier than average and proceeded exceptionally well with mild, dry ripening conditions and cool nights. Healthy vines and below average crops meant that the grapes ripened evenly, with strong varietal definition and character. Deep, dark red core with purple at the rim. Lifted aromas of dark berried fruits including raspberry and blueberry. Integrated oak offers vanilla bean and mocha notes. Dark chocolate and liquorice arise with some savoury roast lamb notes. Medium to full bodied with rich, generous dark berry fruit flavours. The balance is excellent and finishes with obvious but well integrated tannins, creating a long, lingering finish. Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Winemaker
For those that are not familiar with it, and that would not be too many in these parts, the Penfolds Koonunga Hill Seventy-Six Shiraz Cabernet is the premium version of the very well known Koonunga Hill label. The ‘Seventy-Six’ pays homage to the inaugural 1976 release of its now little brother. The premium version of the historic Koonunga Hill label first saw the light of day with the 2006 vintage when it burst onto the scene with a $30 retail and excellent 94 Point ratings from Jeremy Oliver and The Wine Front among others. Of course, the retail price mattered not as despite the team at Pennies showing it to a number of journos and wine shows around town, it was only available via restaurant wine lists, duty free stores and Penfolds’ Magill Estate cellar door in South Australia. Oh, and WineStar. The 2007 vintage repeated the dose with 94 Points Halliday and a Trophy & Gold at Royal Sydney, again among others. The 2008 began with 94 Points from Halliday and ended with the Bargain Blend of the Year in The Big Red Wine book. By then the wine had dipped to $19.99. The 2009 had all the usual excellent reviews from the aforementioned trio but took the trophy cabinet to a new level being awarded a Gold Medal and subsequently the Trophy for Best Wine under $20 at The Great Australian Red 2010. It will therefore surprise no one that the wine I first described 3 years ago as “pound-for-pound the best Pennies red wine and preferred it straight out to the then current Bin releases of Bin 28 and 128” has taken it to another level again with the 2010 vintage and what is more as the quality continues to rise, the price drops to its lowest point ever.
The first thing you will notice about this wine when admiring its deep, brooding purple colour is how 'premium' the nose is. I would like to state it has 'Bin Red' quality all over it but that would be selling itself short if compared to entry level bin reds. The nose has immediate vanilla, dark plum, cherry and mulberry and in time there are wonderful dried herbs and hints of eucalypt. In the mouth, I am surprised by the weight of this baby which weighs in a few degrees heavier than its predecessors and again lends itself to the 'serious' tag. It has lashings of bright, ripe and concentrated Shiraz fruit that complement brilliantly the darker, savoury tones of the Cabernet. The balance here is phenomenal and I got the impression the winemaking team would have welcomed a more 'classic' vintage in 2010 than the heat excesses of the previous two years because this wine is so composed, so long and so damn approachable as a pup never mind the next 5 to 8 years which it will see easily. This falls comfortably into the 'Excellent' zone and regardless of its pedigree it would be terrific value. That it can be had for half the price of the bottom end Bin Reds is a win for John Citizen. The best ‘76’ yet for the fewest dollars yet? I will be loading up on this. Drink: Now-2019+; Quality: Excellent BW; WineStar© April 2012
96 Points ~ Royal Melbourne Wine Show 2012
Gold Medal ~ Royal Melbourne Wine Show 2012
Chocolate, berries, blackcurrant and vanilla oak with a little gum leaf and dried herb in the background – though plump fruit and chocolate is its main thrust. Medium to full bodied with ripe fleshy tannin and plenty of stuffing while remaining composed and balance throughout. Length good. So if Bin 389 is ‘Baby Grange’, this tastes much like ‘Baby 389′. Rated : 92 Points Tasted : May12 Alcohol : 14.5% Price : $20 Closure : Screwcap Drink : 2013 - 2020 Gary Walsh; The Wine Front
Bright crimson-purple; the retro label is a nostalgic look back to the first vintage of Koonunga Hill, made in '76, and still the best ever. This medium- to full-bodied blend is a cut above the standard Koonunga Hill of today, and is very much in the mould of that first vintage. A special on premise wine. Drinking: To 2018; Rating: 92 Points; James Halliday Australian Wine Companion 2013