Joe Czerwinski, robertparker.com (July 2020)
Jancis Robinson, jancisrobinson.com (June 2020)
James Suckling, jamessuckling.com (July 2020)
Matthew Jukes (July 2020)
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.
Adelaide Hills, this up-and-coming South Australian region, may only be half an hour's drive from the city of Adelaide, spanning a 75km by 20km zone, but the change in topography is dramatic, the hot, dusty streets giving way to an elevated maze of verdant, twisting valleys of the Mount Lofty Ranges, offering varying aspects at between 350 and 700 metres.
Naturally, such a cool environment favours early ripening varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Soils are predominantly low, fertile grey loam. The total area is approximately 500 hectares, with a disproportionate number of single wineries. However high land prices deter all but the die-hards.
Chardonnay is the "Big Daddy" of white wine grapes and one of the most widely planted in the world. It is suited to a wide variety of soils, though it excels in soils with a high limestone content as found in Champagne, Chablis, and the Côte D`Or.
Burgundy is Chardonnay's spiritual home and the best White Burgundies are dry, rich, honeyed wines with marvellous poise, elegance and balance. They are unquestionably the finest dry white wines in the world. Chardonnay plays a crucial role in the Champagne blend, providing structure and finesse, and is the sole grape in Blanc de Blancs.
It is quantitatively important in California and Australia, is widely planted in Chile and South Africa, and is the second most widely planted grape in New Zealand. In warm climates Chardonnay has a tendency to develop very high sugar levels during the final stages of ripening and this can occur at the expense of acidity. Late picking is a common problem and can result in blowsy and flabby wines that lack structure and definition.
Recently in the New World, we have seen a move towards more elegant, better- balanced and less oak-driven Chardonnays, and this is to be welcomed.