Penfolds team a winemaking inspiration


Penfolds winemaking team.
Penfolds winemaking team.

THE Australian wine industry contains only one truly inspiring company of world-leading international stature: Penfolds.

The Penfolds Peter Gago-led front line – the winemaking team and the public face of the company – presumably with the input of back-room flair, has taken just 15 years to build the most creative, adventurous and successful wine company on the planet.

The winemaking team, who, as an aside, are on first-name terms with many great rock bands, have released a number of new Bin Numbers such as the Bin 170, which sold hundreds of dozens at nearly $2000 a bottle.

They have sold about a dozen futuristically packaged ampoules of Grange at $160,000 a bottle and have collaborated with St Louis, the famed European Crystal producers, in releasing a $185,000 Imperial Decanter Kit of the 2012 Grange.

The company has the first worldwide ‘Wine Clinic’ or recorking program, where they travel and recork their clients’ most expensive and aged Penfolds bottles – at no charge.

There is no cultural cringe here.

While there are slight ups and downs, the clear Penfolds quality trend is ever upwards in every style and price range, where the fruit quality, oak selection and handling is now reaching the sublime level.

All wine people acknowledge the greatness of Penfolds’ reds, but it is quite possible that the brilliantly crafted chardonnays could be superior.

And the value pick of this year’s releases?

The 2017 Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling is the finest ever, just shading the wonderful 2015 vintage which is soft, full, ripe, balanced and with deceptively high enveloped acidity.

It has a lovely lingering finish and aftertaste, is full, placid, perfectly balanced, round, crisp and mouth-wateringly wonderful at 18.6 points and $33.

This year’s Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz is the most refined and best crafted ever: soft, light and elegant, with a degree of restrained and welcome plumpness.

The oak selection and integration reaches a new high for both Penfolds and Bin 389, 18.8 points and $95.