Wine of the Week

Penfolds' Koonunga Hill line includes six reds and three whites, including a cuvée of its famous Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes

Inexpensive Wines From Sunny South Australia

Penfolds is one of Australia's largest and most highly respected wineries. It makes everything from the $1,000-a-bottle cult wine Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet to the $10 line of Koonunga Hill wines. It holds the Old World belief that the more a person pays for a wine, the longer it should age, so the big fruitiness and intense grip of its most expensive wines last more than 50 years.

On the other hand, most Americans buy inexpensive wines, go home, and drink them that night. That's where the Penfolds Koonunga Hill wines come in. These are easy drinkers with plenty of fruit to balance the wines' acidity, and just enough of both to make Koonunga wines a good choice for pairing with food.

Penfolds' Koonunga Hill line includes six reds and three whites, all made from South Aus­tral­ian grapes grown near Adelaide. The company's fame rests on its stunning Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, and the winery offers wines made from each grape and a cuvée of the two together.

My favorite of the lineup is the Koonunga Hill Shiraz. In an era in which many of the Aus­tral­ians are loading huge oak aromas onto gargantuan versions of their signature grapes, Penfolds resists and still offers a wine with some restraint. Don't get me wrong: The Shiraz is still a massive wine, but it never creates the impression you're drinking jelly. Instead, it makes you want to fire up the barbie and grill up a rib eye.

Historically, the Koonunga Hill Shiraz Caber­net blend has been the most acclaimed wine of the line. It's a 70%-30% blend, and that little bit of cabernet adds red berry aromas and makes it an ideal match with tomato-based Italian dishes.

Penfolds' Koonunga Hill wines are widely available and very easy to order.

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Penfolds, Australian wines, Block 42 Kalimna cabernet, Koonunga Hill, Shiraz, Shiraz-cabernet blend

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