Mark Hoddy in Oz – a visit to Penfolds


A rather overcast start to a Monday morning but I was certainly looking forward to the visit at Penfolds iconic Magill Estate, now situated on the east side of the city of Adelaide. The historic estate has now been engulfed into the eastern suburbs and sits alone like a stronghold of times passed.

Pefolds Tower

It was here that the now-infamous Grange was born and some of the parcels that go to the blend are still made here today.

The estate is old and charming and the 170-year-old winery still does around a 200-ton crush. The estate is undergoing a number of refurbishments and wasn’t looking its best for my visit.

Although Penfolds is now owned by the giant Treasury Wine Estates I still love the blends that Penfolds continue to make. It has been a while since I have tasted a Penfolds line up in one go and was not disappointed this time either, here are a few of the standouts:

  • Pinot Gris 2014 Adelaide Hills: fragrant yellow melon hint of fresh green herbs, zesty palate and long lime finish, good weight. 
  • Chardonnay Adelaide Hills 2012 Reserve Bin 12A: reductive hints, lots of peach, full palate, creamy oak, vanilla, nutty, lovely acidity, long, long finish! A really good wine, top of their game here.
  • Pinot Noir Adelaide Hills 2013: lots of Pinot character, fresh cherries, light green herbs, nice weight and ripeness, blackberry and forest fruit on palate. It’s nice to see a weightiefuller style of Pinot Noir. 
  •  Kalima Bin 28 Shiraz 2008: great herbal and blackcurrant nose, full bodied, lovely fruit. So fresh with a long blackcurrant finish. Very together and more to go. Great value for money and has aged beautifully. This blend has been used since 1959 and I can see why it continues to delight. 
  • Magill Estate 2011 Shiraz: very peppery, herbal green tea, peppermint, lavender, good acidity, blue berry and cherry, followed by dark plum and some raisin. Lovely wine from the 2.4ha city vineyard! 
  • Cellar Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010: only available at the Magill cellar door at $200, made from the Penfolds Block 42 in the Barossa Valley. An explosive nose of sweet Creme de Casis, super charged herbs and tight searing green pepper undertones. Beautiful structure and velvet tannins, long and luscious finish.

It is always nice to taste Grange I have been fortunate to enjoy a number of vintages but it is always better in Australia and of course at its spiritual home Magill Estate a first for me.

A bottle of the 2009 Grange – a blend of four regions comprising McLaren Vale, Barossa, Clare Valley and Magill Estate – was opened in front of me and cork I might add (first time I have seen an Australian use a corkscrew since I have been here!) was popped. A quick swirl and intense blackberry, ripe plum, rum and raisin, dark chocolate, green herbs, garrigue and peppermint aromas opened up. On the palate more liquorice, fennel, dense blackcurrant, violets, barrel spice, big but lovely tannins, black fig, white pepper with a lovely freshness. A very nice wine but $785 🙁

Penfold Grange

I finished the tasting with some fortified, the Father Grand Tawny 10yr showed almonds, coffee, caramel, dried apricots and a lemon lift. The Grandfather 20yr had wafts of iodine, caramel and a nice alcohol heat, coffee with a rum and raisin finish.

I had a great time at Penfolds. I enjoyed the wines and I hope that the blends and winemaking continue to be so good for the future.


About Mark Hoddy

Mark Hoddy, Winemaker and Buyer for Alsace at Laithwaite's.

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