Penfolds St Henri 2002

Out of the bottle, this wine shows as a dark, heavy Australian shiraz with distinct aromas of hazelnuts and burnt sugar. However, it doesn’t come across as overly complex; it’s a bit dumb, strangely enough; with some more time and air, it didn’t seem to progress much beyond an agreeable but slightly generic “warm climate Syrah” note.Drinking the wine is an exercise in the texture of luxury; this is as plush as Beverly Hills plastic surgery, round and full at the edges, but (surprisingly) not overdone: this is not a humongous Barossa Valley fruit bomb in the mold of a Parker 95, but something far more difficult and rare: a balanced, well proportioned wine that is absolutely lovely on its own terms – and thankfully without a face-numbing hit of alcohol to back it up.The finish turns out to be the most amazing thing here: if it weren’t for the finish, you wouldn’t think this wine’s as expensive as it is. It lasts. Minutes later, you still have the impression of savoriness; it’s umami beyond belief and reminds me of ketjap manis and dark chocolate ganache. Long after you’ve swallowed, it’s still there… and there seems to be just a hint of minty eucalyptus that sneaks up after a minute or two. Delicious.PenfoldsPrice: US $40Closure: CorkDate tasted: June 2008

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