Penfolds’ New French Affair

A duo of tantalising releases announce an exciting new Franco-Australian alliance – one that furthers Penfolds’ global playbook and its anticipated 2022 collection release.

By Richard Clune 21/07/2022

Pass the bulots – Penfolds has dusted off its beret for an exciting new foray into the French vineyards.

Officially announced today as part of the acclaimed Australian winemaker’s 2022 Collection (“one hemisphere, two hemispheres” spruiks the PR tagline), it proves another bold move and one that will further elevate the label, its reach and collectability.

The news illuminates two inaugural French releases from Bordeaux – the striking and incredibly well-balanced Penfolds II Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2019 (produced in partnership with the esteemed French house Dourthe) and the 2019 Penfolds FWT 585, a trial bin made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot and which was produced at Chateaux Cambon La Pelouse.

“This is the start of our French winemaking journey,” chimes Penfolds’ ever-engaging chief winemaker, Peter Gago. “Our main objective? To remain true to the winemaking ethos of both wineries, to deliver the best blend possible, to ideally make Bordeaux and South Australia proud. This wine is not about bigness or boldness or assertion. It is blended to convey an ethereal lightness, subtlety on the palate – sensitively binding two hemispheres, Old World and New.”
What that means is a blend bringing together grapes (cabernet sauvignon) from Bordeaux (71%) and those (shiraz) from South Australia (29%) – components then blended and bottled in South Australia.

Penfolds II Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2019 (produced in partnership with the esteemed French house Dourthe).

“For us, this was ground-breaking, resulting in a totally original, innovative wine – Penfolds II – which far surpassed all our expectations while remaining true to the culture and style of our respective countries and houses,” offers Patrick Jestin, Dourthe CEO.

With Penfolds senior winemaker Emma Wood on the ground in France, the FWT (French Winemaking Trial) 585 sees vineyards across the Medoc sourced to deliver a drop produced via Penfolds techniques and blended to a house style.

“It’s about curiosity and experimentation,” says Wood. “We’re not about competing with French wines – it’s about making a ‘Penfolds wine’ from France.”

2019 Penfolds FWT 585.

Adds Gago:Many great Penfolds wines were born from experimentation and trial; RWT 798 (Red Winemaking Trial) Barossa Valley Shiraz, Yattarna Bin 144 (144 winemaking trials) 1951 (experimental) Grange – and now FWT 585. 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.”

The new dance with France follows the success Penfolds has achieved in America and an inaugural 2021 Californian release and which, alongside the aforementioned international reds, rides again in 2022 with the 2019 Bin 149 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bin 704 Cabernet Sauvignon and Bin 600 Cabernet Shiraz.

The newfound French connection means, for the first time in Penfolds history, an annual collection comprising three country of origin portfolios – Australian, Californian and the inaugural French release.

Despite the rightful noise the new duo will prompt, the leader of this year’s pack will prove the Penfolds 2018 Grange.

“’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’. You choose,” says Gago.

In a unique move, Penfolds will enable the public to celebrate the 2022 Collection through an innovative three-day event platform – ‘Venture Beyond By Penfolds’ – to be held at Sydney’s Carriageworks.

The nightly live ‘show’ will include wines from the new collection, a space-themed menu by chef Nelly Robinson, live entertainment and music from Client Liaison and DJ Dan Lywood as well as an immersive experience by BabeKuhl and masterclasses led by a Penfolds winemaker.

The Penfolds Collection 2022 release is available August 4; ‘Venture Beyond By Penfolds’ runs August 4 – 6 at Sydney’s Carriageworks; penfolds.com.au

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