Penfolds St Henri 2002

I wish I knew why, but lately I seem to be over-sensitive to the difference between immaculately filtered wines and wines that are still soupy with debris left over from the winemaking process. Last week, I enjoyed a couple of bottles of Chinon with friends, and both of those bottles left you with a mouthful of residue. I wonder – is that the vinuous equivalent of bongwater? But I digress.Brilliant, sparkling, deep red, this wine is beautifully perfumed. It smells remarkably of damson jam or even German Zwetschgenkuchen, but it’s not the usual South Australian raspberry fruit bomb. Instead, there’s a strong note of freshly shined shoes and saddle leather backing it up, which gives it a much fresher, brighter dimension. There’s even a twinge of eucalypts and violets there somehow; it’s wonderfully complex and a real delight to smell this wine.Medium-full bodied in the mouth, the texture has been buffed to a glossy sheen; tannins, if any, appear to be fully resolved or so satiny that they’re not perceptibly there until the finish, which leaves just enough of a tannic impact to read as “serious.” Taste-wise there’s something like a Christmas cake effect, but again: it’s mostly dark red berries with a hint of blackstrap molasses and just the faintest hit on the onset of bottle age. My only complaint is that the’res incongrous acidity that peeks its head out on the finish, interrupting what’s otherwise a very smooth, elegant line with a rush of “ow, I hope I remembered to restock the antacids.” Even so, this thing is a wonderfully streamlined wine that seems to me a lot like a Chris Ringland Barossa monster Shiraz minus the pruney notes and overachieving alcohol. I like.That being said, my partner just chimed and said “uh, this sure seems corporate and bland.” He does have a point; there is something awfully same-y about this wine. Where is it from? Australia? California? There really isn’t anything especially distinctive about it, and that too is a drawback. Plus, what I’m reading as high acidity could just be high alcohol; it’s still just under 15%, and that does seem to throw the finish out of whack.Penfolds
Price: $40
Closure: Cork

5 thoughts on “Penfolds St Henri 2002

  1. It’s got a more interesting toasty note on the finish now that it’s been open an hour, but that lingering acidity/hotness bothers me. The wine is pleasant, even enjoyable, until that sharp whack of a finish.

    So yes, though I love Penfolds, this one seems just too corporate for my taste. You could serve it in some sports arena luxury box to clients and no one would remember what it was in the morning.

  2. I enjoy this wine, but honestly I think the 389 is vastly superior. I do agree that this is somewhat ‘corporate’ – although it tastes good anyway.

  3. Not surprised to see the 2002 in trouble in the moment- this will be a
    really great St.Henri but in 15 years time.Would not bother to open a single bottle before 2020.

    • Good to know! I’ve still got a couple of bottles – time to move them to the very back of the cellar and leave them alone for another ten years. 🙂

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