Region: Barossa Valley
RRP: $160 plus
Penfolds. One of the most iconic names in the Australian Wine Industry. Borossa Valley; one of the most famous regions for Shiraz in Australia. Put the two together and ultimately you should get a match made in heaven.
Tonight it is all about exclusivity the introduction into “Flagship Wines”. It has been a while since I have addressed a wine that is considered part of a winery’s elite. Before I get on to reviewing this wine, I want to give you a bit of RWT history. Thus, the next time you’re out wine tasting you can drop a bit of wine knowledge on your friends.
R.W.T, stands for Red Wine-Making Trial. Penfolds Winery started this back in 1995. It was not until 1997 that this wine made its way into the bottle for consumption and was first introduced to the public in 2000. Unlike the most Iconic Australian wine “Grange”, RWT is sourced purely from Barossa Valley fruit. Is 100% Shiraz, and is only aged in French Oak barrels (not American Oak). According to Penfolds, RWT wine is fruit sourced for its aroma rather than its power, defining what is so iconic about Barossa Valley Shiraz. Something that will be discussed in the body of my review.
The 2010 vintage was quite a good year in terms of Shiraz for the Barossa Valley. Quite not to the standard of 2008, or 2012, or the most fabulous 2004 year (which is going to be very hard to top), but still a strong vintage.
On the nose, and true to the RWT description, it is a very pleasant aroma of blueberry, and then the ever so distinguishable aroma of boysenberry. Then thanks to new French Oak aging, we find the associated scent of ceder wood. The nose is very appealing to the nose; however, it is quite a different story when it comes to the palate.
The palate is quite a curious little case. It was not what I was expecting at all. When I got this wine into the mouth it was unmistakably the taste of that infamous Italian soft drink, Chinotto. For those of you who have not had Chinotto before, it is the bitter sweet version of orange juice often red in colour and can be a swing and miss to most of the Western world. This was such an uncharacteristic taste from what I smelt. The wine finished into a lingering ceder wood thanks to the new oak, and worked in with hints of coca-powder and coffee bean.
However, when it comes to elite wines, there are ways to bring the fruit back. I wanted to taste what I smelt in my glass. This is where a little bit of science comes into play. The wine has a bitter taste, yet a sweet nasal aroma… Is there a way to get that fruit sensation back on the palate? Well, yes there most certainly is. The answer is hidden within salt.
Oh yes, you want to highlight sweetness and acid in a wine that is young and still bitter from tannin? Introduce salt. When it comes to tasting wine, the top wine critics will be found sitting there between glasses downing black and green olives. The saltiness of the olives drives all the acid and sweetness out in red wines. Thus, I introduced some olives in-between consumption and this bought out a complexity of fruit intertwined with oak. Yes the chinotto bitter taste was still present, but this time I could distinguish blackberry and blueberry fruit working in with the bitter chinotto taste that hits you in the face. This changed the flavour of the wine from the get go. What I now got, was a taste of Sarsaparilla. (Root-beer for you American’s out there.) The sweetness of the fruit was carried over on to the palate; and this in-turn brought a new element to the distinctive chinotto taste.
When it comes to wine, and in particular, big bold wines that ask many questions of the drinker, then a little bit of intelligence can go a long way in enhancing your drinking experience.
To summarise my thoughts on this wine, it is still very young, and although you can consume it now, I would suggest giving it another five years before you consider opening. The wine is a definition of complex meets subtle. When it comes to aroma, this wine smells far more appealing than any other Shiraz out there, but when it comes to taste, it takes you on a completely different journey. To be knit-picky, and I can since I am critiquing this wine, and it is not cheep, I think that this wine had too much time spent in new French oak and it kind of took away what we should all love about Barossa Valley Shiraz, which is that sweet stewed heat and fruit flavour in the wine representing what we love about summer time. I wanted more fruit and less oak tannin. This wine could have been better if it was not made to be drunk in 10 plus years, but when it comes to Penfolds wines, they make them to last.
Drink: 2020 to 2040
The SA Wine Guy