penfolds, st. henri shiraz, south australia 2016
Shows plenty of oomph and verve to the core of blackberry and blueberry flavors, with pops of minerally loam, licorice, black pepper and oolong tea. The tannins are fine-grained and dense, but this remains fresh overall, delivering vibrant juiciness that lends focus and energy to the long, expressive finish. Drink now through 2035.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2016 St Henri Shiraz is one of the finest St Henris I've ever tasted, rivaling the likes of the 1986 or 1976. It's concentrated and rich, the essence of South Australia Shiraz (although it's been lightened by the addition of 5% Cabernet Sauvignon), unleavened by any new oak. Dark and tarry, it delivers notes of espresso and black olive, plummy fruit and roasted meat. Full-bodied and dense on the palate, it ends long, dark and savory.
The latest St. Henri has all the polished, chocolaty plushness Penfolds is so known for, but this bottling is particularly comfortable in its own skin, and seems set for a longer time in cellar than Penfolds Grange. It’s denser, with more earthy, olivey, charred oak notes than the brand’s most famous wine—and also wildly more affordable— with fleshy plum and brambly berry fruit woven into those more barrel-derived secondary notes. Despite its velvety opulence, it’s not bombastic. Tannins are muscular and spicy and also precise and refined, knitting together the plump fruit. Drink 2023–2040 and likely longer.
The St. Henri cuvée is always brought up all in neutral oak casks, and the 2016 is a blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, with just 690 cases produced. This was a great vintage for South Australia, and this blockbuster sports a deep purple color as well as a dense, powerful, meaty bouquet of smoked black fruits, chocolate, bouquet garni, bay leaf, mint, and plenty of earthy minerality. Reminding me of an Hermitage from the likes of Delas Frères, it’s full-bodied and incredibly concentrated, with a stacked mid-palate and loads of ripe tannins. Backward and mostly potential at this point, it’s nevertheless a thrilling Shiraz readers should give 4-5 years of bottle age and it will knock your socks off over the coming two decades.