While Grange is now seen as the quintessential Australian wine, John Davoren’s work with St. Henri is of equal importance. Indeed both these wines set new standards for their day with St. Henri establishing an elegant, perfumed style based on fruit definition and maturation in old oak.
Originally the wines were called ’Penfolds St. Henri Claret’, but since 1991, with the release of the 1989 vintage, St. Henri has been labelled varietally. Like Grange, the wines have always been Shiraz driven, with small varying percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Nowadays St. Henri is a multi-district blend drawing Shiraz from the Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, the foothills of the Adelaide Hills, and Langhorne Creek. Cabernet Sauvignon, which provides firmness and structure to the St. Henri style, is sourced from the Barossa Valley, Coonawarra and Bordertown.
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Blended of 89% Shiraz and 11%Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2006 St Henri Shiraz is a blend of 5 different South Australia sub-regions spanning from Robe to Clare Valley. Never seeing new oak, this vintage was aged 15 months in seasoned 1460 liter vats. Very deep garnet-purple colored, it has a purely fruited nose giving notes of intense cassis, crushed blackberries, some kirsch, black pepper, baking spices and cloves. Full, rich and concentrated, itís still a bit taut with very crisp acid and firm finely textured tannins, giving a long berry laced finish. Consider drinking it from 2013 to 2025+.
With a lot of changes happening around the Fosterís Group, it is business as usual at Penfolds...which seems to operate within its own world. But this is no small world. The vineyard holdings here are vast and the connections with growers go back generations. Chief winemaker Peter Gago is the very well spoken front-man for the production team backed-up Kym Schroeter in charge of the whites and Steve Lienert crafting some very fine, consistent and sometimes inspired reds. If Champagne is all about the art of blending, then Penfolds is the Champagne of Australian wine. Those that think large companies producing wines that emphasize blending canít make great wines need to think about the Champagne model or simply try some of Penfolds top wines to become believers. That said Ė check out their recent single vineyard release: the very special 2004 Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon, the first release of a wine made purely from this 100+ year old single block (perhaps the oldest block of Cabernet in the world?) since 1996.
|Pork, cauliflower cream, confit turnip, morcilla, fennel seed and spiced quince puree
Hickory smoked beef fillet
Pork & duck rillette