So I was sitting down tasting two different vintages of St Henri's which got me thinking. How did it all begin.....In the Rewards of Patience Penfolds has been making St Henri since 1953 which was the first experimental bottling but they then discuss how the label was first conceived. It turns out that a bottle of 1896 Auldana Cellars St Henri was found in Tasmania buried deep in a cellar. Auldana Cellars was located where the Magill estate winery is now located so logically I would expect the fruit for the first St Henri to come from that location which may mean that the 1896 wine have more similarity to the Penfolds Magill Estate fruit profile than the St Henri profile of today. It wasn't until John Davoren, in 1953, revived the label and the unique maturation methods when he had his wine-making duel with Max Schubert. While Grange may take all the headlines I think St Henri is more for the wine drinkers that possess patience. The first wine that I tasted is a testament to this idiom.
Penfolds St Henri 1969
Now this is not the first time that I have tasted this so I went in with an open mind. There is no ullage whatsoever which is always a good thing for a wine of this age. What was surprising was the fact that there was a core of redness at the centre of this wine. Everything is looking good so far. Now for the taste. Flavours of dried clay, wet potting mixed with a smoked hickory and orange rind meander over my tongue in a lively manner which is scaring me. The tannins are still active which adds texture whilst the mid palate has a core of sweetness to an otherwise savoury style Shiraz. Divine!!!! This goes to show that there are only great old bottles of wine and not great wines of age.
Penfolds St Henri 1996
Oh to be young again. What a contrast in the flavours but you could still tell that they came from the same family. Once I opened this the room filled with an earthy cherry lipstick smell that was all consuming. These flavour got me thinking that the wine was ready for action but over the two days that I drank this it just kept on getting fresher and fresher. While the list of flavours for this wine go on and on it was the structure and mouth watering acidity that really took it up a notch. My mouth is literally dripping with saliva after I take a sip. Luckily I have a towel next to me so I can clean up after myself. Insane complexity and insane palate length make Josh a happy man.
Price: Not sure
Drink: 2016 - 2030