St Henri is a time-honoured and alternative expression of shiraz, and an intriguing counterpoint to Grange. It is unusual amongst 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 with age. It is matured in an assortment of old large vats that allow the wine to develop, imparting minimal, if any oak character. Although a small proportion of cabernet may sneak into the blend, the focal point for St Henri remains shiraz.
The first vintage of St Henri – then Auldana Cellars St Henri Claret – was produced in 1888, beginning one of the most famous and enduring names in Australian wine. It was likely named after Auldana’s winemaker Léon Edmond Mazure’s son Henri or his wife, Philomine Henriette. The wine immediately enjoyed success, winning the Championship Cup for Best Claret in Australia at the Adelaide Wine Show in 1890 and then again as a joint winner in 1891. The St Henri label disappeared somewhere around the beginning of World War 1. It was revived by Senior Red Winemaker John Davoren at Penfolds in 1953 to celebrate the centenary of Auldana Cellars. The 1957 vintage is officially recognised as the first St Henri commercial release under the Penfolds name. It gained a new lease of life in the 1990s as its quality and distinctive style became better understood.Discover Collection
Relatively dry conditions coupled with near long-term winter and spring temperatures indicated an early start to the growing season. However, a spell of cold weather in November slowed vine phenology. Warm and sunny weather prevailed throughout most of spring, providing optimal conditions for flowering and fruit-set. The Barossa Valley experienced 22 days of temperature greater than 35°C in summer, while McLaren Vale experienced 17 days greater than 35°C. This warm and dry pattern continued in Clare Valley throughout the growing season with only one significant rain event (30mm) in early December. Robe and Padthaway also had warm, dry growing seasons by regional standards. Late flowering and the delayed onset of veraison throughout the South-East slowed harvest by a few weeks. Our grower vineyard in Port Lincoln enjoyed a near perfect season, with the cool maritime breezes providing optimal conditions for ripening. The warm, dry weather carried into autumn, setting up an Indian summer with favourable conditions for ripening grapes. A fine vintage for all Penfolds South Australian growing regions.
Peter joined the winemaking team in 1989, initially in the craftsmanship of sparkling wines, before moving on to reds as Penfolds Red Wine Maker. In 2002 Peter became the fourth ever Chief Winemaker for Penfolds. Together with his fellow winemakers, Peter’s careful custodianship has ensured that Grange and the other ‘older’ members of the Penfolds family, have continued to set the benchmark for their style and quality, while new additions to the range push the boundaries ever wider.
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