Penfolds Bin 389 2001- Danger, Danger!
Penfolds Bin 389 2001 $18.99USD
Given that Parker has refused to score wines like the Bin 389 "because their acid levels were beyond acceptable ranges" it was with trembling, and fully gloved hand, that I poured this wine into an acid proof glass. Peering through safety glasses I could just make out a dense cherry red with red edge. Initially a promising earthy, gamey nose underscored by a less than medium weight mouthfeel. Mouth drying tannins with refreshing acidity at the finish. Good retronasal. Needed time but opened nicely with plum, pepper and dark berry fruits overlaying a pleasant toasted character. Vigorous agitation revealed sweet vanilla oak. This is a wine that definitely needs some air to soften it. This adds some weight to the mouthfeel and creates a better balance between the structural components. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.8 = 17.6. 14.3% alcohol. 60% Cabernet sauvignon, 40% Shiraz. Tasted December 1-2, 2004.
This is the second bottle of the 2001 I have tried; the first being corked. If you drink the wine as soon as the cork is pulled (as I always do) you will not be impressed at all, at least I was not. The Penfolds description is "a firm base of ripe tannins" - that is putting it mildly! But with time (hours) the wine does loose that harshness and gains complexity and turns into a very nice wine. It tasted much better the next day. I got much more from the wine using an ISO than a Vinum-style of glass.
Whatever excessive acidity Parker is detecting in this wine never materialized in the particular bottle I tried. Am I about to race out and buy more? No, I'm over the poor man's Grange mystique; no I can't afford Grange. The only 389 I have in the cellar is the 1997. Don't ask me why because I don't know. One thing I do know, at less than $20USD, Bin 389 has fallen in price than a few years ago when it was in the mid-20's. It is reasonable value.