St Henri is a time-honoured and alternative expression of Shiraz, and an intriguing counterpoint to Grange. It is unusual among high quality Australian red wines as it does not rely on any new oak. 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 as it ages. It is matured in old, 1,460 litre vats that allow the wine to develop, imparting minimal, if any oak character.
Deep magenta, foreboding core. The nose is instantly recognizable. First impression, Penfolds. Second, St Henri. Wafts ascend akin to roasted meats ‚ seared crust of venison, game meats. Then a sprinkling of crushed kola nut, star anise, black licorice, quince paste. A further swirl or two unleashes more familial St Henri markers of dark chocolate ganache and a biscotti nuttiness. Palate is complete, no gaps, spills across the palate avec a coating of fine (emery paper) polished tannins.
98 Points - James Suckling This is a much anticipated vintage for St. Henri, and it does not disappoint. The complexity of fruit here is stunning, together with a very complex and playfully fragrant, spicy edge with graphite, roasted coffee and woody spices, framing a core of very fresh blackberries, red and dark cherries and blueberries. So fresh and brimming with fruit aromas. The palate has a stunning array of deeply fleshy fruit flavors with a superb sense of length and powerful, ripe tannin, underpinning vibrant, fleshy fruit that is beautifully assembled in a refined, elegant and impressively pure mode. So long and pure. Silky and elegant. A real masterpiece, taking its place among the finest vintages like 2010, 1990 and 1971. 95% shiraz and 5% cabernet sauvignon. Drink over the next three decades.
97+ Points - Jeb Dunnuck The St. Henri cuvée is always brought up all in neutral oak casks, and the 2016 is a blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, with just 690 cases produced. This was a great vintage for South Australia, and this blockbuster sports a deep purple color as well as a dense, powerful, meaty bouquet of smoked black fruits, chocolate, bouquet garni, bay leaf, mint, and plenty of earthy minerality. Reminding me of an Hermitage from the likes of Delas Frères, it’s full-bodied and incredibly concentrated, with a stacked mid-palate and loads of ripe tannins. Backward and mostly potential at this point, it’s nevertheless a thrilling Shiraz readers should give 4-5 years of bottle age and it will knock your socks off over the coming two decades.
96 Points - Robert Parker's Wine Advocate The 2016 St Henri Shiraz is one of the finest St Henris I've ever tasted, rivaling the likes of the 1986 or 1976. It's concentrated and rich, the essence of South Australia Shiraz (although it's been lightened by the addition of 5% Cabernet Sauvignon), unleavened by any new oak. Dark and tarry, it delivers notes of espresso and black olive, plummy fruit and roasted meat. Full-bodied and dense on the palate, it ends long, dark and savory.
95 Points - Wine Spectator Shows plenty of oomph and verve to the core of blackberry and blueberry flavors, with pops of minerally loam, licorice, black pepper and oolong tea. The tannins are fine-grained and dense, but this remains fresh overall, delivering vibrant juiciness that lends focus and energy to the long, expressive finish. Drink now through 2035.
95 Points - Wine Enthusiast The latest St. Henri has all the polished, chocolaty plushness Penfolds is so known for, but this bottling is particularly comfortable in its own skin, and seems set for a longer time in cellar than Penfolds Grange. It’s denser, with more earthy, olivey, charred oak notes than the brand’s most famous wine—and also wildly more affordable— with fleshy plum and brambly berry fruit woven into those more barrel-derived secondary notes. Despite its velvety opulence, it’s not bombastic. Tannins are muscular and spicy and also precise and refined, knitting together the plump fruit. Drink 2023–2040 and likely longer.
95 Points - Wine & Spirits There’s no new wood to get in the way of St. Henri’s blackberry freshness—the wine, developed by John Davoren in the 1950s, presented Penfolds’ top-level shiraz matured in large, neutral oak vats rather than the hogsheads Max Schubert was using for Grange. The 2016 is fragrant with dark fruit that seems to slow time—associate editor Corey Warren compared it to bullet time in The Matrix. Meanwhile, the gentle texture has a silken touch, even as the wine is super-concentrated. A remarkable vintage of St. Henri that will age for decades.