St Henri is a time-honoured and alternative expression of Shiraz, and an intriguing counterpoint to Grange. It is unusual among high quality Australian red wines as it does not rely on any new oak. Released for the first time by Penfolds in the early 1950s (first commercial vintage 1957), it gained a new lease of life in the 1990s as its quality and distinctive style became better understood. Proudly, a wine style that hasn’t succumbed to the dictates of fashion or commerce. St Henri is rich and plush when young, gaining soft, earthy, mocha-like characters as it ages. It is matured in old, 1,460 litre vats that allow the wine to develop, imparting minimal, if any oak character. Although a small proportion of Cabernet is sometimes used to improve structure, the focal point for St Henri remains Shiraz.
Deeply fragrant with an alluring, floral and ethereal scent of blackberry liqueur, plums, dark cherries and musky spices with minty undertones of restrained oak and sweet leather, this is an elegant, fine-grained and richly flavoured example of the Australian 'burgundy' style, even though its label once contained the word 'claret'. It's long and brooding, with its restrained expression of pure, pristine fruit overlying a chalky backbone of kernelly tannin. Certain to flesh out magnificently. (Barossa, Langhorne Creek, Upper Adelaide, McLaren Vale, Padthaway. Date: Sept 1996; Drink: 2024-2034; Rating: 96 Point; Jeremy Oliver
Image for illustrative purposes only.
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