Tag: Peter Gago

Oct 10 2014

What’s Making Wine News: Penfolds’ Peter Gago is named GTW Winemaker of the Year

Posted on October 10, 2014 | By merrill@cellarit.com

2014 is shaping up as a big year for Penfolds. Not only does 2014 mark the winery’s 170th anniversary, but for the first time the company released two vintages of Penfolds Grange – the 2009 and the 2010 – in the same year.

The 2010 Penfolds Grange is winning wide acclaim as one of the best vintages ever, and it comes hot on the heels of the 2008, which was given a rare 100 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

No wonder Peter Gago, Penfolds’ chief winemaker for the past 12 years, has just won Australian Gourmet Traveller’s Wine prestigious Winemaker of the Year award. He also picked up the Len Evans Award for Leadership – marking the first time both awards have been given to the same person in one year!

While the media spotlight inevitably falls on the release of the Grange, wine critic Huon Hooke observes that in 2014 Penfolds also released two of the greatest wines it has ever produced: The 2010 Bin 170 Kalimna Block 3C Limited Edition Shiraz and the 50-Year-Old Rare Tawny.  (Peter Gago named GWT Winemaker of the Year 2014 by Huon Hooke, Hooked on Wine, 18 October 2014)

The recommended retail prices for these two wines, $1,800 and $3,550 a bottle respectively, is audacious, but no-one disputes their calibre. They represent winemaking at its pinnacle and are truly a sign that Penfolds, under Gago’s inspiring leadership, has definitely come of age!

Merrill Witt New Yorkby Merrill Witt, Editor

 

Photo Credit: Drinkster

The 2010 Penfolds Grange and the 2008 Penfolds Grange are available on the Cellarit Wine Market

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Apr 04 2012

Cork versus Screwcap: Penfolds re-ignites the debate!

Posted on April 04, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

On the Cellarit Facebook page, I noted that Huon Hooke reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that Penfolds will now give people a choice of cork or screwcap. According to Penfolds’ chief winemaker, Peter Gago, “cork is a barometer of care.” It’s a better indicator of bad handling, heat damage or poor storage conditions, because the cork will leak or, if affected by heat, slightly push up into the seal. (Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 2012)

David Hawkins of One Aussie Wines responded to my Facebook post with the following comment: “Peter Gago may be correct, but I’ve had plenty of wines with corks that were up or down and the wine was fine…unfortunately TCA doesn’t offer any clues and that’s a more relevant fault for most people. I’ve also had heat affected bottles where there was no leakage or cork movement.”

Penfolds’ move is certainly sparking a fair bit of controversy. Hooke followed up on his article in the Herald with a post on his website. He noted that for Penfolds one of the key factors behind the move back to cork is increasing exports to markets like China where expertise on how to store, transport and properly care for wine is still developing.

But whether reverting back to cork is the best answer to gauge whether a wine has been heat damaged is debatable. Ian Riggs, chief winemaker at Brokenwood, was just as skeptical as David about whether cork was a better barometer of care than screwcap. He told Hooke:

Why don’t they just admit that they have buckled to the demands of their export markets and gone back to cork? To state that it is a way of showing up badly stored wine reeks of April Fool’s Day. So now, wine from all over Read the rest

Apr 04 2012

Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz: A Wine that Rewards Cellaring!

Posted on April 04, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

After tasting 19 vintages of Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz with Chief Winemaker Peter Gago, the Wine Spectator’s Harvey Steiman remarked, “The sneaky little secret that so many savvy Australian wine collectors know is that, yes, St. Henri can age as long as Grange does.” (Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz: Old School by Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 12 May 2008)

Well, I certainly hope that you are one of the savvy ones. At around $75 on release St. Henri is a real bargain compared to its fabled sibling Grange! But as Steiman also notes, “while Grange tastes amazingly good upon release and continues to develop extra nuances in the bottle, St. Henri takes a few years to show what it has.” So properly cellaring a newly released St. Henri is essential if you want to enjoy the wine in its prime.

Determining the optimal drinking window for the St. Henri can in fact prove quite a challenge. Steiman called the phenomonal 1976, which he gave 95 points, “almost under-developed for a 32-year-old wine.” Here’s his glowing review:

Rich and meaty in flavor, with a gamy grace note to the vibrant blackcurrant and plum flavors, riding on a supple frame. Fine tannins, round and generous, with power and elegance. Just now developing an old-wine character…Spectacular.

That is not to say that younger vintages aren’t drinking well. The Wine Advocate has a drinking window of 2013 to 2025+ for the spectacular 2006 vintage. And as Steiman comments, “It’s not that the unready wines are harsh or difficult to drink. On the contrary, they are really pleasant. But they get so much better with longer cellaring.”

So what makes the St Henri such a great wine for ageing?

St Henri was originally made in the 19th century by the Auldana Winery, which was next … Read the rest

Feb 02 2011

Penfolds Bin 389: Perfecting the Art of Blending

Posted on February 02, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

At Wine Australia’s Landmark Tutorial last September, the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown scored the 1975 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz a very impressive 92 points. Here’s her review:

The 1975 Penfolds Bin 389 has a perfumed nose of dried cherries and pot pourri with some cigar boxes, stewed Ceylon tea and dried mint. Structured with medium-high acid and a low to medium level of grainy tannins, it still gives a lot of dried fruit and savory flavors with a long finish of dried figs and baking spices. The wine has peaked but appears to be at nice plateau. (Shiraz and The Great Australian Blend – Landmark Tutorial Day 2 by Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, eRobertParker.com, January 2011)

I had a look at The Wine Advocate’s scores for vintages of Bin 389 dating back to 1993 and up to the 2007 (1993 is the earliest listed review and a few vintages were omitted). 91 points is the highest score, so a score of 92 for a bottle that was 35 years old is a real testament to the wine’s ageability.

Of course, Penfolds Bin 389, first released in 1960, does have a great reputation for ageing well. Its ‘baby Grange’ moniker, in part a testament to the fact that some components of the wine spend part of their time maturing in the oak hogsheads used in the previous vintage of Grange, is also well-earned recognition for the wine’s consistency of style and longevity.

Perrotti-Brown has referred to Penfolds as the ‘Champagne of Australian wine’: “If Champagne is all about the the art of blending, then Penfolds is the Champagne of Australian wine. Those that think large companies producing wines that emphasize blending can’t make great wines need to think about the Champagne model or simply try some of Penfolds top wines … Read the rest