Review: Penfolds 2014 Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet

Have you ever purchased a bottle of wine based solely on the fact you liked the label? Years ago I was shopping for wine for a dinner party I was attending. At that time Australian wine was the big thing, so I happened to be browsing through that country section of the wine store.

My eye was immediately drawn to this bottle of wine. It had a crisp white label against a black bottle and a striking red capsule. It instantly stood out against the many other bottles on the shelf. The very first time I was exposed to Penfolds wine as purely accidental, based solely on the fact that I liked the label.

Now that I’ve had many years to obtain more experience and knowledge, I have a much better idea of what to look for when purchasing a bottle of wine. That being said as an admirer of Penfolds wine, I do still keep an eye out for the white label and iconic red lettering.

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet
The iconic Penfolds label!

After arriving in Australia, Christopher and Mary Penfold began producing fortified wines such as Sherry and Port as a medicinal aid for Christopher’s patients. Soon the demand grew for their wines, the winery expanded and “Penfolds” was officially established in 1844.

Over time Penfolds started to introduce new grape varieties into their vineyards and expanded their production to include sweet and dry red wines, along with white table wines. As the winery grew they began to expand their production by purchasing additional vineyards in the McLaren Vale and New South Wales.

Beginning in the 1940’s Penfolds began to change its focus and started to produce more and more “table wines” to accommodate consumers changing tastes. This change in focus was responsible for the creation Penfolds most famous wine, “Grange”, as well as the the “Bin” series of red wines: Bin 389, Bin 707, Bin 28, and Bin 128.

Penfolds 2014 Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet

I try to keep my eye out for sales on Penfolds and pick up some bottles whenever I get the chance. Last Christmas, I found Bin 28 on sale at a local wine shop so I picked up a couple of bottles and put them away for a rainy day. A couple of weeks when I was stocking up on some white wine for my wife, I noticed the Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cab on sale, so of course took advantage and picked up a bottle.

First impressions of the wine was that it is was young, very young. The aroma of fruit was intensely strong and overpowered any other aromas. Once the wine had breathed for several hours I was able to note some herbal aromas along with some earthiness.

It’s definitely a complex wine, the Shiraz grape really brings a strong fruit profile, notes of blackberry and cherry. The Cabernet component brings in flavours of oak and green pepper, as well as some big tannic properties. One thing I noted about the body of the wine was a seemingly oily texture. The wine left a coating in the mouth after each sip, which was something else I attributed to the wine being young.

Out of curiosity I went on to Penfolds website and looked up the tasting notes for this wine. To my surprise they only had notes listed up to the 2011 vintage, and for that one they were recommending cellaring until 2015. Looking at the fact that I had opened up a 2014 told me that I should have been more patient and put this away for a couple of years. I’ll know better next time.




  • Winery: Penfolds
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Grape: Shiraz & Cabernet
  • Region: Northern Barossa
  • Country: Australia (South)
  • Nose: Cherry, Herbs,
  • Taste: Blackberry, Black currant, Oak, Green Pepper
  • Purchased: Aspen Wine & Spirits
  • Price: $17.99






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