The following article was sponsored by Penfolds
In just 200 years, Australian winemaking has grown from a few small plantings to an industry acclaimed around the globe. Today Australian wine is renowned for its innovation, depth and uncompromising quality, and no winery is more integral to that story than Penfolds.
Since 1844, Penfolds has played a pivotal role in the evolution of Australian wine. A strong spirit of innovation and constant pursuit of quality fuel the winery’s collection of benchmark bottles, which have been honoured extensively with awards and critical accolades.
Viticultural victory doesn’t come easily. Penfolds works tirelessly to stay at the top of its game and the global winemaking industry. Behind the brand are three pivotal P’s that form the building blocks of the winery’s world domination: people, place and philosophy. Master those three, and you’ll have an insider’s understanding of what makes Penfolds wine so special.
The People Of Penfolds
The greatest grapes in the world are worthless without the right team to tend to them. It is the innovation of the people at Penfolds that has allowed the winery to ascend to its current hallowed heights.
The present Penfolds winemaking team has more than 150 years of experience between them. They continuously refine and improve their work, while honouring the winemaking techniques of their predecessors. At the helm is Chief Winemaker Peter Gago – only the fourth person to hold the title in the company’s history. It’s an unusual approach, but one that has allowed for unique cross-generational craftsmanship.
Beyond its core team, Penfolds partners with a network of grape growers to augment the supply of high-grade grapes sourced from the company’s own vineyards. These Penfolds growers span the most celebrated regions in South Australia, as well as Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania for premium chardonnay grapes.
With everyone working together like a proverbial well-oiled machine, Penfolds has earned numerous titles like ‘2013 New World Winery of the Year’ from Wine Enthusiast Magazine and ‘2014 Winery of the Year’ in the 2014 James Halliday Australian Wine Companion.
The Places Of Penfolds
South Australia is Penfolds’ playground. Most of the company’s vineyards are located on prime land throughout the state’s most esteemed viticultural regions. Penfolds has both owned and leased vineyards over the course of its history, in addition to sourcing grapes from independent growers. This multi-vineyard and multi-regional approach allows for a consistency of style and quality across vintages.
The winery’s key viticultural regions include Adelaide, the Barossa Valley, the Clare Valley, Coonawarra, the Limestone Coast and McLaren Vale. Cool climate regions such as Tasmania, Tumbarumba in New South Wales and Henty in southern Victoria are significant sources for Penfolds white wines. In all, grapes are sourced from more than 220 vineyards and growers across Australia.
The most celebrated location in the Penfolds family is Magill Estate, the ‘spiritual home’ of Penfolds established in 1844 by Dr Christopher Rawson and Mary Penfold. Visitors can tour the premises, further their wine education at the Magill Estate Cellar Door, or dine at the renowned Magill Estate Restaurant or its sister offering, the Kitchen. The site’s rich heritage, together with its views across to the Adelaide CBD provide a rare opportunity to explore one of the few urban vineyards in the world.
The Penfolds Philosophy
For over 170 years, the Penfolds winemaking philosophy has been defined by three distinct styles: single vineyard, single region, and multi-region or multi-varietal blending.
Penfolds single vineyard and single block wines are celebrated for their unique terroir and sense of place. These include the Magill Estate Shiraz, Kalimna Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cellar Reserve Kalimna Block 25 Mataro, and 2010 Bin 170 Kalimna Shiraz.
Penfolds wines sourced from a single region or sub-region highlight the best that particular land has to offer. These wines are regarded for their optimised regional character and microclimate variants such as soil, drainage and aspect. Examples include RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz, Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz, and Bin 23 Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir.
For the ultimate expression of the Penfolds philosophy, try one of the multi-region or multi-varietal blends. These exemplify what Penfolds is best known for from a winemaking perspective: crafting wines to a house style. Examples include St Henri Shiraz, Yattarna, Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz and Grandfather Rare Tawny, but the holy grail of the style is Penfolds Grange. Not only is Grange the original and most powerful expression of this blending philosophy, it’s also widely considered to be Australia’s most collectable wine.
The magic happens at the intersection point. Historic blends, heritage vineyards and gifted craftsmen ensure Penfolds holds true to its original values while remaining relevant for the current generation and many more to come. It’s impossible to imagine Australian wine without Penfolds.