Penfolds: Men (And Women) At Work

I was recently asked to take part in a paid promotion in conjunction with Penfolds. This promotion is to highlight Penfolds on tour. This summer, they’re taking a travelling, pop up bar to a variety of British food and music festivals. Lucky gig-goers will get to sample the Max’s Chardonnay and Shiraz/Cabernet and in doing so, have the chance to win a limited edition Penfolds record player that includes rare records and limited edition wines.

I jumped at the chance. Australia is after all where and how my wine career started. Over the years I’ve drunk across the Penfolds range; back in the day I regularly drank Bin 389 – the baby Grange. I’ve been lucky enough also to taste (rather than buy bottles to drink) of their top kit including aforementioned Grange and the Yattarna Chardonnay.

Anyway, the combination of Aussie wine and music festivals led to an obvious piece…I had to cover the quasi-national anthem, A Land Down Under, the 1981 hit for Men At Work

Men At Work – Spotify

Here Come The Tasting Notes

These tasting notes are very much stream of consciousness. They’re transcribed verbatim from my tasting book and come from my first tasting of the wine. There’s lots of flowery, nonsense language here, but that’s ultimately what tasting notes are. I believe that all wines can ultimately be reduced to being described with 3 words (some people do it with 3 digits). So, after each note, you’ll find a Three Worder. Enjoy.

Penfolds Max’s Chardonnay 2019

100% Chardonnay – Adelaide Hills – 30% new oak.

A broad, open, and appealing nose. Fruit leads with an exhibition of white peach, apricot, orange, nectarine, and a lovely undernote of fresh limes. This is poised and precise growing and making with a subtle vanilla pod and crème underpinning, yet not dominating, the well defined fruit. Further notes of acacia blossom, almond flowers, and gently toasted nuts round off alongside a final hint of green apples.

Where the nose has subtlety, the palate is more explosive. Surrounding a core of driving wet-stone and fresh limes can be found tangerines, oranges, and nectarine. Some green apple keeps things fresh and lively alongside a hint of pink grapefruit. There’s a soft and delicate creamy vanilla note with just a touch of smoke. This is all about freshness and poise though. On second taste the wonderful stone fruit from the nose reappears and makes itself known. Ripe peach and apricot, with just a hint of cinnamon and jasmine. The finish goes on to next week.


Penfolds Max’s Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

69% Shiraz / 31% Cabernet Sauvignon – McLaren Vale/Wrattonbully/Padthaway/Coonwarra – US Oak (7% new, 60% second fill)

Immediately forward, intense, and deep. Purity of fruit is what is most striking here: blackcurrant, bramble, blackberry, black cherry…but there’s more to this luscious and defined darkness. At the heart of this melée is something bright and red: cherry perhaps, but most obviously redcurrant and cranberry…and the subtle leafiness that they bring, counterpointing the intense, focused fruits perfectly. But wait…there’s more. A hit of black pepper, smoked vanilla, and herb-encrusted meats resting after slowly barbecuing on hot coals. It’s all going on here. It reminds me of how and why I first really got into Australian wine.

This dominates the palate, it’s not shy in coming forward, but it’s not bloated and entitled either. Balance is the watchword. Big, rich, well defined dark fruit fills every last part of the mouth. Weaving around all this fruit can be found smokiness, minerals, fresh herbs, heather, and jasmine. It’s bold and spicy, but the pepperiness has a lovely refrain, and is tempered by the sprightly core of refreshing acidity. The tannins are so soft and round they’re hardly noticeable, but they’re there…they melt away gently into that ever-so-clean acidity. Almost like caramel. This has bags of energy and life.


I’m no expert, but I think both of these will pair wonderfully with a vegemite sandwich. If you can’t make any of the festivals, look these wines up in Waitrose, Ocado, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, or Booths. The RRP is £20. Bargain…especially when some of those multiples run their regular 25% off 6 or more.

Many thanks to Penfold and R & R for the free samples and invitation to take part in this paid promotion.


2 thoughts on “Penfolds: Men (And Women) At Work

  1. Hey Sophia, that’s really kind, thank you. I just combine fruit flavours in a word salad and hope it makes sense. Hope all is grand for you and would love to catch up some time. Salud!


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