Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Penfolds Kalimna

Photo by Tommy Low
Since I've been contributing to Vinspire I have only really done spirits posts, however I am (believe it or not) a huge wine fan - I love big bold reds, beautiful aromatic whites and everything in-between. I felt that this would be a great point to introduce you to one of my all time fave producers, as they are just starting to release their new vintages, some of which can be bought now for a big saving en-primeur.

Penfolds are an Australian company that were founded by a british doctor and his wife who emigrated to the country in the 1840s. As part of Christopher Penfolds' medical practice they began to grow grapes to make port (for the obvious medicinal purposes) and over time these wines began to get a reputation in their own right. As time passed of course they expanded their operation and diversified and eventually Penfolds was bought by Fosters (the company that makes that fizzy, yellow-brown, hopless, tasteless "amber-nectar).

Penfolds is a huge company now and is the producer of possibly the best and most famous wine in Australia, Penfolds Grange. Grange is made mainly with shiraz, but with some cabernet generally chucked into the mix, and has shot to fame, but it has a price tag to match, retailing at around £400 per bottle for new vintages. However, Penfolds cover the gamete from affordable to luxury wines with a wine for pretty much every budget, so long as you like red.

Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz 2010

Photo by James brooks
One of the cheaper wines produced by Penfolds is the Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz, (oh yeah, Penfolds have this weird bin system that is apparently pretty random and means very little, there's Bins 28, 389, 407, 707 and then have various named wines such as Grange and RWT). Kalimna for me is a truly fantastic med-high priced wine and comes in at about £20 - I understand that this is a lot to some people but I really do feel that it's worth it, even if it's your 'something special' wine rather than an everyday choice.

On the nose there is dark berry fruit, sour cherry, blackberry, tobacco and dark chocolate, the scents are full bodied, intoxicating, sweet and heavy. There is also an almost menthol/eucalyptus note, much like a cabernet, but that can occasionally be found in warmer climate shiraz. There is a ton of depth to the nose of this wine, it jumps out of the glass and slaps you round the face, but there is so much to explore and discover.

On the palate the Kalimna is full bodied, not overly tannic, being very drinkable now with or without food and is far away from jammy over-ripe shiraz from Australia most people are used to. The palate largely follows the nose with the black fruits and tobacco, but without the sweetness. This is so drinkable, but after a couple more years will slip down a dream whilst still retaining the primary fruit flavours, but developing more tobacco and savoury notes.

Last year I got the opportunity do a vertical tasting of various Penfolds wines (Kalimna Bin 28, St Henri, Bin 707 and Grange) with one vintage 2008-10, one from the mid-late 90s and then from the early 80s. I say this not to show off, but to say that the 1996 Bin 28 was truly wondrous and the 1983 was still drinking really well and still had some of the primary fruit left. The 2010, which is largely available, should be okay until at least 2025 - something you just shouldn't expect from a £20 Aussie shiraz.

I realise I'm coming off as a huge Penfolds fanboy (which I pretty much am now), however I really want to get across the quality of the wine. There are some aspects of the company that I'm not a huge fan of - they seem to push PR too much, and seem to want to get into the papers for most expensive this or biggest that, and run their new vintage unveilings like a red carpet affair. Over all the pomp bollocks, I care most about the wine, and you cannot argue with the quality here.

Penfolds Kalimna Bin 28 can be bought from Berry Bros from £22.50 a bottle.

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