Following our release of Penfold’s flagship wine ‘Grange’ and the stunning ‘Baby Grange’, we are delighted to release St Henri 2013. St Henri is the most sought after Penfolds wine and it is easy to understand why. St Henri vies with Grange for pole position on the points scale, which a 1/7 of the price is remarkable. The 2013 is yet to be scored by any leading critic, however it was an extremely hot vintage, which has translated to low yields and very focused, concentrated wines. Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz was awarded 96 points by the Wine advocate in 2013, so we should expect this or more from the stellar 2013 St Henri. Our release price today of £275 per case of six offers an incredible opportunity to secure a wine that sells out perennially on pre-orders alone.
The history of Penfolds Grange and St. Henri presents two competing styles, designed to complement each other. In the 1950s the Australian wine industry was largely trying to make dry red wine out of very raw materials, using grapes cultivated for port style wine production. Penfolds embarked on a project to create world class wines, engaging their winemakers to do something different; two winemakers broke the mould, Max Schubert and John Davoren. In 1951 Schubert created an experimental wine by bottling Shiraz after fermenting in American oak, he called it Grange Hermitage. However, at the same time Davoren was tasked with fashioning St Henri, created deliberately to challenge Penfolds Grange (Then Hermitage Grange) by juxtaposing it: where Grange was viewed as polemical, St.Henri was designed to use conventional winemaking techniques. Davoren worked painstakingly throughout the 1950s and in 1957 ordained the first vintage.
Stylistically, since the 1990s Penfolds St Henri has once again cemented itself as the highly efficacious counterpoint to Grange, a completely alternative expression of Shiraz. Unusually for Aussie Shiraz, St Henri does not depend on new oak, being matured in old 1,460 litre vats, which encourage the wine to display the fantastic fruit concentration that is derived from the vineyard’s old vines. Shiraz makes up the lion share of St Henri, although some Cabernet Sauvignon is added to improve the structure. The wine has the potential to improve for 30 years in bottle and in 2013 it is extremely complex, with high notes of eucalyptus, lavender and mint. Its layers unfold to express dried fig, mocha, coffee and delightful notes soya sauce and sweet spice. All this is wrapped up in toast, cedar, leather, smoke and finishes with an incredible praline note.
St.Henri is incredible age-worthy, last night we tasted the 1986 and it still boasts fruit, displaying vibrancy and intense power, combined with stunning tertiary flavours; porcini mushroom, truffle, horse saddle and prune. Our strong advice is to buy St Henri every year, it will reward you in terms of investment and stunning future drinking, at a fraction of the price of Grange.
Penfolds St Henri 2013, 6×75, £275 IB
This 2013 Shiraz St Henri follows in the blockbuster footsteps of the 2010 and 2012. The blend is 96% Shiraz with 4% Cabernet Sauvignon and the fruit sources are far and wide, including a real mix of terroirs: McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Padthaway and Port Lincoln. It spent 12 months in 50+-year-old casks. Deep garnet-purple colored, the youthfully reticent nose is complex, offering loam, aged meat, licorice, tar, scorched earth, fenugreek and cloves over a cherry cordial, blueberry pie and dried mulberries core. The medium to full-bodied palate reveals lovely, understated elegance and depth with a firm backbone of ripe, grainy tannins and many fruit and spice layers emerging on the finish. This is one for the long-long haul and, at a fraction of the price of Grange, should be where the smart money goes for stocking the cellar. 97 points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate
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