This is a follow-up to a post from last year on the incomprehensible tasting notes produced by the marketing team at Penfold’s. I am pleased to say that they are still at it.
Here’s one for their 2012 Bin 2 Shiraz Mourvedre:
“A ‘trifled’ vinous chromatogram – jelly/ custard/ coconut!”
And then a longer one for 2011 Bin 389:
“A sensory stratification of layers of taste – separate via time-of-detection and unravelling of flavours. At first, Christmas pudding with roasted nuts, then rare lamb and olives, then sarsaparilla spice. Tannins awashed, oak absorbed, fruit awakened.”
Now I’m not going to pick apart this gibberish as I did in the last post – though the last line does sound like an attempt at a corporate Haiku – but it does seem odd that someone high up at one of the world’s most respected wine companies would sign off on this. When I read this nonsense, I want to know who is to blame.
It does sometimes feel that a mad interior designer has been let loose on this proud old company. Witness that orgy of vulgarity masquerading as an ‘icon’ wine the Ampoule - a wine encased in crystal. Yours for £100,000 and you’ll need the Penfolds team to fly in should you want it opened.
One might expect such blatant attention-seeking from a recently founded Californian ’boutique’ estate but from Penfolds? And this is what makes it so odd, they already have an internationally-celebrated wine in Grange. Putting a gaudy trinket above it only tarnishes the aura. They make really good wines. I recently tried a selection of their lesser Bins and really enjoyed them (though not everyone will as the reds are made in a super slick style.)
The clue to all this is in the pricing. Grange was £90 a bottle 12 years ago, it’s now released at around £500. I tried the recent vintage of Bin 28 Shiraz recently and it’s now well over £20 a bottle. The 08 cost £12 a bottle in 2011. Exchange rates may be partly to blame but it looks like Penfolds are now firmly targeting the luxury goods market rather than the wine lover. Now this is fine and not unusual for a global drink brand but why do they have to do it so badly?
You can pre-order my book Empire of Booze here.