Saturday, 8 September 2012

Bin 144 Yatarnna - Penfolds White Grange

With the great success of Grange over many years, Penfolds has always been interested in the concept of the creating a 'White' Grange.  The Penfolds Bin 144 Yatarnna is as close as they have come and it is commonly referred to as White Grange.  It is made from reserved Chardonnay grapes and usually cost around $130 per bottle.  I was very fortunate to pick up several dozen of the 2006 Yatarnna for a good price when some were found and treated as excess stock by the dealer.

During the 1990's, Penfolds tried a number of 'trial bins' in an attempt to create a White Grange before settling on Yatarnna.  And to be honest, Penfolds was looking for an iconic white wine to match Grange, but never really had to the intent of marketing any wine as White Grange.  This was a moniker of wine writers around Australia.

In 1992, Penfolds started creating a number of trial bins to create an iconic white wine.  I actually have four bottles of the 1995 Penfolds Adelaide Hills Trial Bin Semillon, which I bought in 1997 in a Melbourne bottle shop.  I have not tried one yet, but am now excited to find out if this wine was a mistake or not!  I was only spending between $12 - $18 per bottle then for wines I did not know anything about, but wanted to try.  (In 1997, I did pay $200 per bottle for several bottles of the 1992 Penfolds Grange which were released that year.)  Therefore, I am certain I did not pay more than $18 for the Trial Bin Semillon I picked up.

One of the characteristics of Grange is that is was built to last a very long time, and I expect they wanted to have the same characteristic for an iconic white.  Therefore, Semillon certainly would have been a good choice of grape to experiment with.  In selling off wine recently and thinning my stock, I had the four bottles of the 1995 Penfolds Adelaide Hills Trial Bin Semillon on sale for $10 per bottle!  Fortunately, nobody bought any.  I will be trying a bottle soon to decide if I have an unknown gem here or not.  If so, then I will gladly share the remaining bottles with some great friends, and if not, we will use the remaining bottles for cooking wine!

But back to the Penfolds Bin 144 Yatarnna.  This is one of the finest Chardonnays you will find in Australia.  I still like my Montrachets a bit better, but the Yatarnna is a great Chardonnay.  I am currently sipping a 2006 Yatarnna which is stunning and one of the better vintages.  (The first vintage of Yatarnna was in 1995.)  It has powerful lemon flavors and some peach and grass flavor.  It is mellow but with a slight edge and crispness.  This wine should drink well for another five years or so.

I selected this wine to go with my wife's homemade chicken pot pie which is in the oven now!  I am looking forward to that combination and am sure she will have an upcoming recipe in her blog "DAZ in the Kitchen."  This mellow, yet robust wine will match beautifully win the chicken pot pie.

I have been upset at some of the commercial finanglings of TWE with the Penfolds brand, and have sold off most of my Penfolds inventory, but I have a dozen of this great wine left.  My wife has an easy way to tell if a wine is outstanding or not, and that is to 'not notice' that the bottle has been emptied so quickly when it it just the two of us drinking it, and that always happens with the 2006 Penfolds Bin 144 Yatarnna!  In fact, my wife just took a sip and stated, "You see, this wine does all the right things.  You sip it, it hits my palate perfectly and goes right down without thinking about it."

While I find fault in some of TWE's commerical approaches (TWE owns Penfolds), I cannot fault Penfolds for the passion they have always exhibited in making great wines and the 2006 Bin 144 Yatarnna is one of them!

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