About this WINE
Penfolds enjoys an iconic status that few New World producers have achieved. Established in 1844 at the Magill Estate near Adelaide, it laid the foundation for fine wine production in Australia.
The winemaking team is led by the masterful Peter Gago; it has the herculean task of blending the best wines from a multitude of different plots, vineyards and regions to create a consistent and outstanding range of wines. Its flagship wine, Grange, is firmly established as one of the finest red wines in the world.
Under Gago’s stewardship, the Penfolds range has evolved over time. Winemaking has moved away from New World heat and the sort of larger-than-life style that can mask individuality; the contemporary wines instead favour fine balance and typicity for the region or grape.
Coonawarra is a famous wine region located on South Australia's Limestone Coast, an hour's drive (37 miles) east from the ocean. Populated by Scottish and Irish immigrants during the mid-19th century, it was John Riddoch's love of horticulture that led him to set up a fruit farm on the terra rossa soils of Katnook, later renamed as Coonawarra in 1897.Although Riddoch managed to plant vines and make wine before his death in 1901, it wasn't until the 1950s that the Wynn family relaunched the Coonawarra name with the purchase of his winery. A trickle of corporate investment then followed (ie Mildara), before turning into a flood during the 1960s and 1970s. Now approximately 4,000 hectares, the controversial Coonawarra Geographical Indication zone encompasses prized terra rossa soils (free-draining red loam over limestone over an aquifer), as well as not-so-noble turf consisting of red, sandy, brown loam and poorly-drained black loam.
A low-lying cool area with a Mediterranean climate, it has moderate, relative humidity (49 percent); at 59 metres, it has a similar altitude to the Médoc (47m), is drier and 10 percent cooler – probably due to the notable cloud-cover during the key months. Non-detail/hedge pruning shapes the vineyards, resulting in large canopies and relatively high-pH juice. Cabernet Sauvignon is king, blended with Merlot matured in American oak with the capacity to age for up to 10 years.
Recommended Producers: Wynns, Coonawarra, Bowen Estate
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.
Joe Czerwinski, robertparker.com (July 2020)
James Suckling, jamessuckling.com (July 2020)
Richard Hemming MW, jancisrobinson.com (September 2020)
Matthew Jukes (July 2020)