Penfolds Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz

Penfolds has been home to some of the world’s most revered cabernet shiraz blends for more than half a century, yet never in any of my tastings with the house have they opened a bottle of Bin 8. They generously obliged my request for a sample, and it’s unfortunate that the lesser 2011 vintage was my first experience with this label. Nonetheless, this blend of cabernet (62%) and shiraz (38%) from McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley and Upper Adelaide was true to the season in its restrained, fragrant and early-drinking way. It displays greater density of satsuma plums and liquorice than one might expect, and allusions of cracked pepper, soy, sarsaparilla and spice of all kinds keep things entertaining, while gentle, soft tannins keep everything friendly.