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Penfolds releases California wine collection

Having been in the pipeline for years, Australian wine brand Penfolds has launched a quartet of California wines primarily based on fruit grown in Paso Robles, Napa and Sonoma.

Penfolds’ new California wine collection is primarily based on fruit grown in Paso Robles, Napa and Sonoma

As reported in Wine Spectator, the iconic wine estate began exploring the potential of Californian terroir in the 1980s – Penfolds acquired a stake in Geyser Peak winery in 1988.

Its owners subsequently sold the share, although the company purchased a large estate in Paso Robles in 1997. Penfolds transplanted vine cuttings from South Australia to Paso Robles, expanding its California holdings.

Today the company also enjoys access to prime vineyard sites in Sonoma and Napa, as part of the Treasury Wine Estates group.

Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago. Photo c/o Penfolds

“Our access to California’s best vineyards wasn’t part of a master plan to conquer California”, Penfold’s chief winemaker, Peter Gago, told db.

“It simply happened through a series of mergers and acquisitions. After 177 years of history, making wine in a new continent was a natural progression for Penfolds.”

The new labels include the Bin 600 Cabernet-Shiraz, priced at US$50. Climbing up the hierarchy, the Bin 704 Cabernet Sauvignon comes in at US$70, while the super-premium Bin 149 Cabernet Sauvignon will set you back US$149.

The firm’s latest icon wine is the Quantum Bin 98 Cabernet Sauvignon. It commands a price tag of US$700 a bottle. All the wines are based on the 2018 vintage.

According to Gago, the Quantum and Bin 149 volumes are “around 9,000 cases.” Yet in one sense, both the Bin 149 and Quantum labels aren’t Californian wines. According to Gago, his team decided to blend in a small amount (14% and 13% respectively) of Australian wines to improve the overall structure and complexity.

Bin 149 benefits from a dollop of Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, while the Quantum Bin 98 contains some Australian Shiraz.

“We use a Burgundian approach in California – we went in quietly and started making wines from small blocks in premium sites, whether it be Rutherford or Oakville. Our goal is to communicate Penfold’s signature style from premium raw materials.

“For decades, we’ve been known for multi-regional Australian wine styles. So producing a wine that spanned two continents was the logical next step in our brand’s history,” Gago said.

Penfolds has heightened its international investment in recent times, having collaborated with Champagne house Thienot to market a small range of prestige bottlings. According to Gago, the firm will release a non-vintage rosé in the second half of 2021.

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