St Henri is a time-honoured and alternative expression of shiraz, and an intriguing counterpoint to Grange. It is unusual among high quality Australian red wines as it does not rely on any new oak. Released for the first time by Penfolds in the early 1950s (first commercial vintage 1957), it gained a new lease of life in the 1990s as its quality and distinctive style became better understood. Proudly, a wine style that hasn’t succumbed to the dictates of fashion or commerce. St Henri is rich and plush when young, gaining soft, earthy, mocha-like characters as it ages. It is matured in old, 1,460 litre vats that allow the wine to develop, imparting minimal, if any oak character. Although a small proportion of cabernet is sometimes used to improve structure, the focal point for St Henri remains shiraz.
Above-average winter and early spring rainfall offered the vines in South Australia healthy soil moisture profiles for the growing season. Late spring and summer were dry and warm with significant heat records being set. Warm weather prevailed during summer and throughout veraison, allowing grapes to develop evenly and with good intensity. The warm conditions came to an abrupt halt in mid-February with significant that rainfall allowed for a long and slow ripening of the fruit in very good conditions. This ensured balanced flavour development, fruit exhibiting a brightness endowed with crisp acid retention and impressive fruit quality.
“Thick deep purple. Refined, really complex nose. Super-ripe purple fruit and lovely polish. So clean and fresh on the end. Suave and velvety. Complete. Lightly salty and beautifully smooth yet with masses of tannins underneath.” Jancis Robinson
2014 vintage 18 points Jancis Robinson
2014 vintage 19+ points Matthew Jukes