1970 Penfolds Bin 128 Coonawarra Claret … and a T-Bone!

7 May

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1970 Penfolds Bin 128

I always feel a certain sense of history heading to the cellar to dust off a genuinely old bottle of Filthy Good Vino.

The entertainment starts, before you’ve even opened the bottle. Enter the 1970’s wine label. No flowery, food matching mumbo jumbo on this one!

You know a wine’s old when the label uses Imperial measurements, there’s no mention of the Alcohol % and it is described as a Claret.  I love the details of the District:  “Coonawarra, South Australia (The most southerly vineyards in Australia.”  Apparently Tasmania didn’t even have a legit wine industry when this baby was bottled.

This label certainly beats some of the dribble that’s was pushed out for the 2nd release of Penfolds Bin 620 in 2011.  Whoever wrote it was on the money! Classic old school description: “The dry finish and Tannins make this wine a real Claret of high quality, with the distinctive Coonawarra character prominent. Will improve with bottle age.” With 42 years under its belt they got that one right!

Penfolds have smashed out a lot of wine over the years. The wines of the 1960’s and 1970’s have been some of my favourites. I’ve got a real soft spot for the St Henri’s, aged in big old wood they show more elegance than their big brother, Grange.  I will be forever grateful to my old man, Cudos Eddie Son, for collecting an array of Penfolds Bin wines: 28, 128, 389, 620 (the original), St Henri’s and Grange.  More important than collecting them, he’s shared them! A 1972 St Henri won me the approval of the now officially sanctioned outlaws.

There’s been a massive evolution for Penfolds over the years. The wines of the 1960’s and 1970’s were perhaps more elegant, refined and balanced. There’s a level of sophistication to them that seemed to have been lost in some of their modern siblings.   I’ll leave my ramblings on the evolution and revolution(s) of Australian wine to another day.

Back to the subject at hand: the 1970 Bin 128 Claret made from Coonawarra Shiraz.  Some times when you open bottles this old they actually “sigh”. Bare with me for a moment before writing me off as a lunatic, there is a scientific explanation.  Over time liquid makes its way out through the cork and the gas in the bottle is placed under negative pressure. When the seal is finally broken you can actually hear the bottle suck in a breath of fresh air. One day I’ll capture it on film, stay tuned!

After four bites at the cherry I finally got the cork out of this little baby and with a quick decanting, the beast was unleashed. The 1970 is a classic gobsmacking, spicey, rich bottle of yumminess. There’s no doubt that it’s more of a masculine style and has the fruit weight to hold it. A slight bricky hue suggested a little oxidation, confirmed by a quick wiff, revealing an Amontillado Sherry twist. The passing of time has mellowed an explosive wine that still packs a punch. Incredibly complex: truffle, leather, earthiness and spicey fruit aromas meld together enticing you to wack your honker in the glass and smell it again and again. It starts slow on the tip of your tongue and explodes with ripe, bordering on jammy fruit that fills out in the middle palate. A line of acid refreshes your taste buds as it slides down your throat.  The flavours lingers long after being swallowed.  As a stand alone drink it finishes hard, dusty and slightly sappy, kinda screaming out like a Hawaiian Shirt at a Black Tie event. This is definitely a food wine, a 1kg T-Bone helps to silence the screams.

Yumminess = Yes.  Lamb Chop Wine = Nope, not far from it though.

Food = Perfect with a 1kg T-Bone!  Where to Buy = Check out the Auctions!

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