2019 Penfolds II 1840 Dourthe Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz
An immediate recognition – all is complete and balanced; in proportion, dimensionally full and generous.
When approached sideways/laterally – “You get the whole, before the parts.” Shiraz coats the cabernet yet still supporting a classic cabernet graphite core. Flavours, aromatically itemised above, merge to the palate – retronasally with this wine what you smell is certainly what you taste! A lovely weave/texture (not a film) – whilst velvety, granularity of tannins is still apparent. These tannins (and acidity) act as a conveyance for fruit. Yes, an engaging acid liveliness and vivacity – akin to the mouth-watering acidity inherent in many Japanese dishes.
Length and persistence – manifested ever-so-softly, with a mineral stamp on the finish.
Dourthe II stands for two hemispheres, two wineries, two cultures, two worlds (new and old). The 2019 Dourthe II is a blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Shiraz (from South Australia) and 12% Merlot and was bottled in Australia due to the Australian fruit component. Penfolds has a disruptive streak that is clear—bottling wine in other countries, taking the iconic and idiosyncratic Australian blend (Cabernet/Shiraz) to foreign shores and back again... Here, the American oak emerges through the finish and provides a familiarity in the context of Penfolds—it grounds it. The tannic structure is fine and tightly knit; the fruit speaks of cassis, blueberries, graphite, black olive, licorice and star anise, and there's an injection of tobacco leaf and cigar box too... a melding of two worlds. It seems to me that this wine still has a way to go; combining Australian Shiraz and Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon (and Merlot) creates something of a stylistic clash in the wine, but the construction—the winemaking—knits it all back together. We know nothing about how this wine will age, but all the components—regional and winemaking—suggest a comfortable couple of decades.