(2019) Named in homage to Max Schubert, the Cabernet is sourced from three regions of South Australia: Wrattonbully, McLaren Vale and Coonawarra, and the wine aged in French and American oak, only around 7% new. It's a bold, luxurious style of Cabernet, fully ripe, licked with tobacco and smokiness, bursting with black fruit and yet with a hint of cedar and blueberry cool precision. In the mouth it has substantial presence with its 14.5% alcohol, no shortage of ripeness and plummy weight, but the smooth tannins and balanced cherry-skin acidity is very well handled. A fitting partner to the Max's Chardonnay. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) Quite a different vintage from the 2015 this, with more pronounced herbal, peppery and raspberry notes joining the black fruit, a little balsamic and lifted character, all very attractive in a firmer way. In the mouth the wine has the same sense of opulence and plushness, a dark, glossy pool of black fruits inviting you to dive right in, but there's a little more of an edge too, firm, liquoricy, mocha-deep, but giving a certain tangy presence. This is a slightly more savoury, structured interpretation, and again, a very successful one. This will improve further with mid-term cellaring, whilst the 2015 is irresistible now.
(2018) What a wonderfully full and delicious wine. That could be the end of the tasting note, but perhaps I'd better expand: this is the glorious face of hedonistic Barossa Shiraz, glossy, deep and overflowing with dark, chocolaty fruit, blackberry, plum and blueberry, but there's also a brighter, red fruit lift. In the mouth the 14.5% alcohol is unobtrusive, because the sheer concentration of the old vine fruit easily matches it, and the slick, vanilla and spice underpins with creamy tannins and an agile acidity. You have the full force of Barossa, but freshness - even elegance - too.
(2017) The recently launched 'Max's' range from Penfolds is of course an homage to Max Schubert, the first Chief Winemaker for Penfolds, and the man who created Grange. As is usual with so many of Penfold's premium wines, fruit is sourced widely across South Australia, and the wine is aged 24 months in older American and French oak barrels, with about 10% in new French oak. It's made to be accessible early, but it is still a wine with a bit of grip and structure, the plush blackcurrant and blueberry aromas framed by sandalwood and vanilla, before a mouth-filling palate of sweet fruit but with a bittersweet twist of liquorice acidity and tight, grippy tannins as well as a touch of alcoholic heat. A few years in the cellar will do this no harm.
(2017) 40% Grenache, 33% Shiraz and 27% Mourvedre. A dry, lightly leathery and gravelly character with small redcurrant and black fruit dryness. The palate has a fine, racy profile, spices and crunchy acid against quite sweet, but agile and savoury fruit. Drinks easily but well.
(2017) Much bigger, creamier and more chocolaty than the GSM, with coffee and spice richness and forward character. Deliciously creamy, certainly adding texture and creamy oak richness. Lovely, straightforward but delicious.
(2017) Made in open fermenters and aged in French oak. A nice spiciness and Morello cherry, with a lovely smoky and pencil shaving quality, taut black fruit coming through. Lovely ripeness and creamy, juicy black fruit into an elegant and quite lifted perfume on the finish.
(2017) Subtle graphite and pencil shaving fragrance to taut, glossy and ripe black fruit, a touch of cocoa but really the cherry freshness defines this, the savoury aspect is delicious and again a natural freshness.
(2017) Much darker, sweeter, plummier than the Battle of Bosworth, with a richness and sweetness, but still has the more perfumed, more elegant character. There's a medium bodied elegance on the palate too - fresh again, more gloss, but a similar brightness.
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