Tasted 17/12/2014 for our wedding anniversary dinner; well, you need an excuse, and we found one. We had it with a simple Weber-cooked whole piece of mesquite smoked rump steak, asparagus, corn and roasted tomatoes; in truth what we had in fridge at the time. It actually worked quite well with the simple meal.
In the style of St Henri, this sees no new oak and spends 12 months in very old vats.
First let’s get my meagre notes out of the way before handing over to the experts.
COLOUR – inky black red with purple tinge, yep that’s it; if the glass was bigger, I’d dive right in, so appealing it even looks rich.
NOSE – sweet rich fruit, chocolate, stewed plums, spice, voluptuous and enticing.
PALATE – well … mind blowing, voluptuous, luscious are my first sensations; waves of dark plums, earth, savoury spice, dark chocolate, all silky smooth and in an envelope of mouth coating tannins.
The finish goes on for ever in a wave of spice, dark fruit and tannins.
Even at this early stage, it has remarkable balance and harmony, full bodied, chewable and rich, but with gorgeous elegance, way on top as the best St Henri I have ever tasted. We can be left to imagine what greatness this wine will show in another ten years; it is already one Australia’s finest red wines. Only three left in my cellar, they are in no risk of having to wait 10 years for future assessment.
And yes, it is finished in screwcap. Don’t get me started, but any wine producer that cares for their paying customers, and intends for their wine to last many years, should be closing them in screwcap, full stop!
The wine was always going to be hard to get after MW Andrew Caillard gave it 100 pts; the rest, as they say, is history.
Below are some of the accolades this wine has received from major wine writers around the world. Of course it may be of little matter as available stock has flown. But if you do see some, you know what to do.
The finest vintage under this label since it was first released during the 1950s. With a history interlinked with the story of Grange, 2010 St Henri stands as the triumph of this year’s Penfolds luxury release. The wine is amazingly expressive with deep colour, superb fruit complexity, voluminous richness and supple textures. Dark chocolate, dark cherry, blackberry, mocha, roasted chestnut aromas are followed by a richly concentrated palate full of dark chocolate, paneforte flavours, generous sweet fruit notes and ripe loose-knit chocolaty tannins. It finishes graphite firm, long, and minerally. A gorgeous wine with all the hallmarks of long term ageing potential.
Rating: 100 Points.
Andrew Caillard, Master of Wine
A multi-regional, 100% knockout SA shiraz that excites at every step, the aromas saturating the nose high and low with ripe, vibrant black fruits then carrying forward with wilder, redder fruits hitting top notes as well, the texture engaging and timelessly contemporary. Stunning wine that will delight for decades.
Rating: 99 Points
Tony Love, Taste
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.
Rating: 98 Points
The hero of this year’s release is a majestic 2010 St. Henri Shiraz. A stalwart of a more traditional style and matured in large format (1460 litre) oak, it is a wine that showcases the inherent quality of the 2010 harvest. It’s a sure-footed wine that will age gracefully and, with so many of the other wines creeping northwards in price, it is also one of the great value wines at US$90.
Rating: 98 Points
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+
Rating: 97+ Points
Lisa Perotti-Brown MW, Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate
If you buy no other Penfolds this release, don’t miss St Henri. It’s as if the 2010 season was perfectly orchestrated for this large format, old oak style. A celebration of this great vintage, this is one of the finest under this label of the modern era, perhaps ever. The epitome of the St Henri style, effortless and elegant, with epic purity and definition…It has space and grace, nothing short of breathtaking. Wow! Drink: 2020-2040
Rating: 97 Points
Tyson Stelzer, Wine Taste
St Henri is the one Penfolds super premium we all should be following. This 2010 release is the best since the 2004. In short, it’s gorgeous. I’m tempted to use the words Beg, Borrow or Steal. Nose, palate, tannin, finish; all are in full, healthy voice. Licorice, leather, plum, clove. Fine-grained tannin. Juicy orange-peel notes. Well stored, under screwcap, it will live for just about ever.
Rating: 96+ Points
I felt palpably nervous before tasting this wine. To my mind, it was the most important wine of the whole event. I have been waiting for this taste for four years. Harvest conditions meant that this had to be a great vintage for St. Henri. But how great? That was the only question. I never will wines to win 20s in my notes. They just happen without me questioning it. Perfect wines don’t have to try too hard. For me, this is the finest young St. Henri I have ever tasted. It is phenomenal in every way. I cannot imagine how it could be bettered. I like it more than the fêted 1990 and 1971.
Perfect 20/20 ++ March 2014
Matthew Jukes (UK)