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This was truly a phenomenal experience of tasting such vintage wines. Our guide was fabulous, you obtained a great understanding and overview of the vineyard and its history. The lunch was also delicious. This is by far one of the greatest wine tours I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. Expensive but well worth it.
This is a difficult review to write, because it really is a combination of several reviews. The Penfolds Iconic Experience is a tour, tasting, and lunch. If you break it down into three parts, I would rate the tour five stars, the tasting four stars, and the lunch negative three stars.
Starting with the tour: Ryan was fantastic! We toured the grounds, the cottage, the actual winemaking facility, the underground vaults, etc etc. Ryan was approachable, knowledgeable, and down to earth. He really went into the history of Penfolds, it was frankly one of the best wine tours I've ever experienced on five continents.
The tasting was no slouch either. Unfortunately, I had already tasted most of the wines at a Master Class recently in France. The tasting featured the Penfolds signature Chardonnay, as well as the St. Henri, McGill and Grange. There was only one Grange, the 2012, and while a spectacular tasting, I dropped it down to four stars because there was no opportunity to taste an aged Grange in comparison unlike the Master Class where we did a 2012 vs a 2002. Still, Ryan again was great, and he gave some useful insights into the local winemakers.
If the review ended here, it would probably get five stars. But then lunch happened.
Two of the group had just paid for the tour and tasting the Ultimate Penfolds experience which did not include the lunch. Several of us had the Iconic which included the lunch for an additional 125 AUS. Oh how I wish I had not chosen this option.
Lunch was by all means an epic disaster. The three of us were ushered into a tasting room which consisted of a bunch of empty bottles on the wall and a tv monitor which had place settings for three. Our lunch orders were taken and we were promptly forgotten about for the next 90 minutes. The service was abysmal. There were supposedly three courses, but the first course was basically a bunch of charcuterie which was delivered about 20 minutes after the first wine which we had already finished by that point. Over the course of the 90 minutes, we had someone attend to us perhaps four times in total. The only reason we knew the bottles on the wall were empty was because we were checking them out to see if there was some wine that we could have to pass the time. After going through the rows of bottles and straightening them out no joke, they were all crooked, we took turns leaving the room to see if someone would actually come in while we were out. As a sommelier, I have organized plenty of wine lunches, this was an embarrassment of titanic proportions.
What they should have done is taken their 10 tasting and supplemented our time with some interesting wines from their entire line. Instead we were left to figure out whether they were purposefully ignoring us or had simply forgotten us. We did watch the video displayed on the monitor in the room without sound as it replayed over and over again.
As for the food, the charcuterie was okay, the main dish steak in my case was okay, the dessert was excellent. The wine pairings were meager at best, and they did not time them with the dishes so that we actually had no wine pairings with the dishes. When we got the dessert at about the 90 minute mark, the server told us we could go after we were done dessert oh thank you! but asked if we wanted coffee or tea. All of us refused as we thought we would have to stay another hour waiting for that. Oh, and unlike the other review, we didn't get any type of souvenir notebook or something of the sort. Or perhaps I bolted too early after four and a half hours.
In short, this was a terrible experience. I would not recommend it to anyone. Get the ultimate experience and skip the iconic. Penfolds should be embarrassed.
Couldn't have been better. After reading the reviews we decided to book the iconic experience. It exceeded our expectations. Ryan and Paul were fabulous and their knowledge was amazing. The tasting in the private room was not rushed and there was no pressure to follow up with a purchase afterwards. The food was exceptional, plus more wines to compliment our meal. We loved our souvenir note book to bring home. We have done various wine tours over the years when visiting Adelaide but this is definitely our queen of the cellar!
We were lucky on the day, as we were the only ones on the tour and had specialised service from our Wine Educator, Russell. We loved the history of the estate and got a taste and feel for what it was like in the early days. Loved the wine tasting, and the 3 course lunch and matching wines were a treat. Would highly recommend this tour for anyone, not only experienced wine drinkers!!