There aren't many large wine labels that taste through virtually every vintage of their back catalogue on a regular basis, not only with wine critics, but also going on to publish the results in a book. However, Penfolds has been doing this every five years for almost three decades, with the latest edition of its Rewards of Patience book edited by Andrew Caillard MW just published.
I was privileged to be the international wine writer invited to sit on the panel for the Seventh Rewards of Patience tasting at Penfolds' historic Magill winery in Adelaide, where the first tasting was held back in 1986. For the first time selections from its ever expanding portfolio spanning wines from 1952 to 2010 - were also assigned to key critics in New York, Beijing and Berlin, before finishing up on home turf.
If you've got some Penfolds in your cellar, even some of the lowlier Bins that we found to be in fine fettle, Rewards of Patience makes for an interesting read. As well as providing the history of the winery and the individual wines, every vintage included is given a current tasting notes with comments from the critics and an assessment of its drinking window or whether it's past its prime.
My pick of the current releases that are drinking well now is the Penfolds Bin 138 Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2010: Voluptuously fruited and velvet textured wine with notes of plums, cherries, marzipan, exotic spice and florals.
* The Rewards of Patience (Seventh Edition), published by Hardie Grant Books.