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.
Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Port Lincoln, Robe, Padthaway, Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills fruit. Matured 12 months in 50+yo vats. The effortless, unassuming self-assuredness of St Henri holds a unique and beloved place in the assemblage of Penfolds heroes, and 2018 marks a particularly special release. Accomplished, spicy, glossy black fruits of grand integrity unfold to magnificent effect in the glass, contrasting a fine-boned frame of rigid yet graceful, powder-fine tannins that carry a finish of long-lingering line and alluring appeal. I look forward to spectating from the sidelines as its fruit slowly unfurls over the decades to come. An adorable St Henri that exemplifies all that this label stands for. Drink to: 2024; Price: $75.00; Date Tasted: Jan 2021; Alcohol: 13%; Rating: 96 Points & Special Value Star; James Halliday Wine Companion
Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2018. Grown in the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Port Lincoln, Robe, Padthaway, Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills regions. It’s a fruit-filled St Henri. It’s immediately impressive, which isn’t exactly the St Henri way, but no one’s complaining. Cocoa, coffee grounds, rich sweet plums, soy and sweet, aged meat. Licorice straps too, black, fresh and laid on. This is the kind of St Henri that you can drink young, it doesn’t need it’s normal ten-year rule, and yet it’s future will be brilliant. This is a St Henri to buy. Tasted: July 2021; Alcohol: 14.5%; Price: $135; Closure: Screwcap; Drink: 2024-2040+; Rated: 95+ Points; Campbell Mattinson; The Wine Front
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