Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Penfold's Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, 1998

This is another Penfold's Australian classic--a blend of Cabernet and Shiraz that has a personality distinct from either varietal. When I tried this last (in 2007), it was hard and disjointed. Today, it has opened up beautifully and is showing signs of even better days to come.

The color is deep, dark and bluish. Bin 389 is aged in American oak, but the wood has integrated nicely by now. Smells and flavors of blueberries, licorice and black raspberries. Dark tones that are typical of this blend, without the herbal qualities of either Cabernet or Syrah and very little of the vanilla and dill that you can expect from American oak. Goes down very smoothly from front to back with a thick, lush mouthfeel and a long finish.

Bin 389 is sometimes known as the "poor man's Grange," even though this wine is clearly a blend while the Grange was for many years billed as Shiraz. But they are clearly very similar in personality. Bin 389 generally sells for about $25 in the United States, often a little more in Australia. It's an excellent value, although it's still generally outside my buying range except when I can find it at discount. In a good vintage, though, keep in mind that it will probably not show its best until about 12 plus years in the bottle.


  1. Agree, this is a cracking wine. 1998 was generally regarded as being an outstanding year in South Australia with the Penfolds 389 from that year being no exception. FYI, the last auction sale price for this wine in Australia was A$76, roughly the same now in US$.


  2. Thanks, Sean. That auction price reflects a good appreciation over the decade--and with good reason.

  3. agree with you..
    and thank you for your comment..I like your blog and I am your new follower:)))