Penfolds St.Henri is a veritable stunner, hugely undervalued compared to its mirror image, Penfold’s Grange. The 2010 Penfolds St.Henri is their finest ever, critically acclaimed across the board. It has been awarded the highest score ever from the Wine Advocate, 97+ points from Lisa Perrotti-Brown, who prizes the nose with a description of ’warm blackcurrants, blueberries and licorice with a complex undercurrent of mocha, cedar, menthol and grilled meat.’ James Suckling awarded it 98 points and says it will ‘go down as one of the greatest eve r St. Henri releases.’ Such an encomium is certainly warranted and the value for money here is incredible; at this price point there is no finer Shiraz heralding from the new world, or France for that matter! The 2010’s score places it above most Granges, which are priced at £300+ a bottle. We originally released 2010 St Henri for £245 per case of six bottles and the market has already risen to £300. Today we are delighted to be able to offer 6x75cl cases for £280, a discount to market!
The progeny of St Henri is instructive, formed as a ying to Grange’s yang and this explains what makes it so special. 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. At this time 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 and today it is considered as one of the greatest wines in the world. However, at the same time Davoren was tasked with fashioning St Henri, created deliberately to challenge Penfold’s Grange (then Hermitage Grange) by juxtaposing it: where Grange was viewed as polemical, St.Henri was designed to use conventional winemaking techniques. Davoren’s worked painstakingly throughout the 50s and in 1957 ordained the first vintage. Nevertheless, when charged with coming up with the name, Davoren came across old labels while digging around in the loft of the Auldana winery. The label pertained to the estate’s St Henri Claret, first made in the 1890s by a Frenchman, Edmond Mazure.
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. St Henri predominates with Shiraz, although some Cabernet Sauvignon is added to improve the structure. The wine has the potential to improve for 30 years in bottle and displays incredibly rich fruit with wonderful purity, expressing elegant blueberries, its tell-tale flavours of mocha, menthol and meat, with a touch of cedar, liquorice and wonderful sweet spice and leather.
St Henri is a must own wine in leading vintages, it will reward collectors by giving back wonderful quality over decades, a wine that can be consumed delightfully when young, or with age. The 2010 now has several years in bottle and has entered its drinking window, as such it is a superb time to secure a case to enjoy now, or over the next 30 years.
98 Points, James Suckling
A rare vintage of only shiraz in this wine, the sourcing is Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Coonawarra, Adelaide Hills, Wrattonbully and Clare Valley. A very handy vintage of this classically styled Penfolds red, bright hearty fruit dominates amid earth, tar and dark nutty elements, boot polish too, really deep. The palate has seamless flow and build, immense concentration is at play, dark liquorice, blackberry and plum, this is swathed in deeply ripe, smooth but strong tannin. Dark plum flavours build, the finish holds and holds – terrific length and depth here, this will go down as one of the greatest ever St. Henri releases.
97+ Points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown
Very deep purple-black in color and showing an attractive nose of warm blackcurrants, blueberries and licorice with a complex undercurrent of mocha, cedar, menthol and grilled meat, the full-bodied 2010 St Henri Shiraz is relatively rich in the mouth, offering tons of fruit structured by firm, fine tannins and refreshing acid. It finishes with great persistence. Drink it 2015 to 2030+.
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