Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet 2001/02 Review

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Pihuan's review of Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet 2001/02


“Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet 2001. ”

Written on: 12/05/2004 by Pihuan (1 review written)

Good Points
Good wine now, will be even better in a couple of years.

Bad Points
Still a bit young in my opinion. 13.5% alcohol is pretty high.

General Comments
Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet 2001.

Penfolds wines are easily recognisable: plain white labels, the name Penfolds in red italics, and the rest of the script in black. Clear and unpretentious; stylish in a conservative sort of way. This wine usually costs about £6.99 in the supermarkets; I got this at a 20% discount in Tesco's Aussie wine promotion. It seems to be on offer quite regularly. This is a price range where one is entitled to expect something good, although not necessarily memorable.

Penfolds history goes back to the 1840's when an English doctor planted some vines at his home near Adelaide. He had brought French vine cuttings all the way from England with the intention of making wine for medicinal purposes. The colonists at that time often suffered from anaemia, and Dr. Christopher Rawson Penfold wanted to make port-type wines to alleviate this. Penfolds gradually grew and were a major producer by the 1920s, making mostly fortified wines and brandy. At the end of WW2 only 3% of Penfolds output was table wine, and the company's growth into what it has become today stared with experimental plantings in the 1950s and continued through the 60s. This wine was first made in 1976.

This wine weighs in at 13.5% alcohol, which makes it a pretty hefty bruiser. I feel that the high alcohol content of a lot of New World wines is a retrograde step as every extra percent of alcohol takes away a much larger percentage of flavour and subtlety. Having said that, I feel that the Cabernet Shiraz blends stand up to this much better than some varietals. Some high strength Shiraz wines are really blowsy old tarts. The Cabernet Sauvignon gives a rather sterner structure, and much more decorum!

This is a wine I have had many times before, but not just recently; and this is probably my first taste of the 2001 vintage. First impressions were not what I had expected. I had thought of this wine as hefty, but fairly easy drinking. This one is hefty but seems a little closed to me, perhaps rather young. The colour is deep; there are strong berry tastes and plenty of Oak. It is good wine and went well with the pork we had for dinner. It would go well with any red meat, and with a cheese board.

What does it say on the bottle? "richly flavoured full bodied blend of classic red grape varieties - warm spices, richly expressive fruit and generous structure will also reward medium-term cellaring" This is all true, but wonder if the last is code for not ready yet? "This full-bodied red wine is enhanced by oak maturation providing a framework within which its ripe varietal flavours and well rounded tannins can fully integrate." Again this is all true.

I don't have a 99 or 2000 to compare, but suspect that this is a more complex wine than they were. It is perfectly drinkable now, but I think that it will be much better in a few years time. So if you can get some at a good price (£5 - £6) it's well worth laying down, and will seem a bargain when you come to drink it. Unfortunately I'm skint and my partner thinks it's funny to open any bottles I'm trying to keep!

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