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.
The 2012 Shiraz St Henri is very impressive with its elegant, sophisticated and well-crafted expression of this superb vintage. As always, there is no new oak employed here, simply 50+ year old large oak vats. This vintage has a dollop (3%) Cabernet Sauvignon, contributing a lovely cassis lift to the heady perfume. Deep garnet-purple colored, it displays a gorgeous nose of commendable purity and intensity with notes of red and blackcurrants, freshly crushed blackberries, menthol, cinnamon stick, bacon fat and cloves. Rich and already expressive on the palate, it is nonetheless built for the long haul with firm, ripe and grainy tannins carrying the fruit to a long and layered finish. This should be a long-lived St Henri that should cellar gracefully for at least 2 decades. Rating: 96+ Points; Drink: 2016-2035; Date Tasted: Sept 2015; Lisa Perrotti-Brown; Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate
Has a whisk of 3% cabernet to accompany the shiraz, the grapes from the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Robe and the Clare Valley. In the manner of all St Henris, matured for 13 months in 50yo oak vats (1460l). This is an exercise on a chequer board of savoury/smoky black fruits with firm, but polished, tannins. A great St Henri that will come into its own in a bare minimum of 10 years, and live long thereafter. Rating: 96 Points; Drink by: 2047; Date Tasted: Sept 2015; Alcohol: 14.5%; James Halliday Wine Companion
St Henri was the same price as Grange when the two were first released in the 1950s. 2010 St Henri declared that this label is still deserving of greater respect than it is afforded, and 2012 confirms that this was no one-off. The mild summer, dry autumn and even development of small berries and bunches produced beautifully pure and distinguished fruit that plays perfectly to the St Henri style. The graceful, supple blue fruits of classic St Henri are on parade in a wine of effortless, refined persistence. Nuances of liquorice and dark chocolate are supported by definitive St Henri fruit tannins, seamlessly presented, with a silky, supple mouth feel and yet somehow still firm and enduring. A great St Henri of effortless longevity, following in the legacy of 2010 and promising a thrilling future. A blend of 97% shiraz and 3% cabernet from the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Robe and Clare Valley, matured for 13 months in 50+ year old large oak vats. Rating: 97 Points; Price: $100; Drink: 2027-2047; Tyson Stelzer - Wine Taste Weekly
97.5 Points - Winsor Dobbin
96 Points – Andrew Caillard MW
96 Points – Huon Hooke
Image for illustrative purposes only.
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