Renowned the world over as Australia’s true master of the viticultural arts, Penfolds has long looked to broaden its horizons in an effort to be constantly learning, growing and honing the craft of winemaking. Now that search has led the iconic Aussie winemaker to Bordeaux, France, a region whose residents also know a thing or two about ensuring grapes reach their full potential.
Excitingly, Penfolds’ work in Bordeaux has resulted in the creation of two wines that will make up the inaugural French release within the annual Penfolds Collection. When the 2022 Collection is released in August, it will – for the first time in Penfolds history – feature three country-of-origin portfolios as the French wines join those from California and, of course, Australia.
North and South
The first of these French wines has been made in collaboration with Dourthe Bordeaux, one of France’s most prestigious winemaking houses. Dourthe was established in 1840 – four years before Penfolds itself came into being – giving the two winemakers a total of 360 years’ worth of experience between them. The culmination of all this skill and knowledge accrued across generations is the Penfolds II Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2019.
A blend of grapes from Bordeaux and South Australia, this landmark wine brings the northern and southern hemispheres together in perfect harmony, as guided by Penfolds Chief Winemaker Peter Gago and Dourthe Chief Winemaker Frédéric Bonnaffous. Named “Penfolds II” in recognition of the coming together of two great winemaking forces, it was created by combining traditional French and time-tested Aussie winemaking techniques, before finally being bottled by Penfolds’ skilled team in South Australia.
You might think that two of the wine world’s heavyweights joining forces in such a way might result in a wine that’s big, bold, and looking to assert itself, but according to Gago this couldn’t be further from the truth: “It’s blended to convey an ethereal lightness, subtlety on the palate – sensitively binding two hemispheres, Old World and New.”
So Frenchy, So Chic, So Penfolds
Naturally, it won’t be alone – we are talking about a collection after all – so on the French side of things the Penfolds II will be joined by the 2019 Penfolds FWT 585: A trial Bin wine made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. The result of much trial and experimentation, this is a wine that manages to be both very French and very Penfolds. As Gago explains, “The wines made in France pay respect to French terroir, yet one thing remains overly consistent…the Penfolds stamp. Just like our California wines…. we have the French sun above and soil beneath, but everything in between is Penfolds!”
Elsewhere in the Collection, the Australian release will be led by the 68th consecutive release of Penfolds 2018 Grange – a drop Penfolds that has already received four perfect 100 point scores – and if Gago’s description is anything to go by, there’s good reason to get excited: “’78, ’98 and ’08 Granges … three favourites. The 2018 Grange? Just graduated, add to the list! This 2018 release purportedly answers to two IDs: ‘A well-dressed Grange … classy rock star!’ OR ‘a modern, classic Grange … sleek and finessed, with a punch!’”
As for Penfolds’ endeavours in sunny California, the brand has now been making wine there for over 20 years. Rounding out this year’s release will be three options: the 2019 Bin 149 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bin 704 Cabernet Sauvignon and Bin 600 Cabernet Shiraz.
If you’re excited to get your hands on any of the more than 20 wines that make up this year’s Collection – we have our sights set on those enticing French drops – you won’t have to wait long. They’re available from Thursday 4th August at Penfolds Cellar Doors (Magill Estate Winery and Barossa Valley Cellar Door) in Australia, penfolds.com and select fine wine stores around the world.