BRUNELLO’S NOSE KNOWS….
Before we delve in to the long and amazing history that is the Penfolds winery, we must first discuss the death and rebirth of Australian wine. The world’s 5th largest exporter of wine, Australia is one of few countries that does not boast of a wild or native grape varietal. Cuttings were brought over from Europe over 200 years ago. Through time, testing, tenacity, and luck, Australia’s terroir has arguably produced some of the world’s greatest wine ever produced. That would include the red blend, Penfolds Grange.
In Adelaide in 1844 Dr. Christopher Rawson Penfold and his wife Mary and their young daughter emigrated to Australia, bringing with them vine cuttings from France. They purchased over 200 acres that had been planted to grain. While the Dr. was busy practicing medicine and delving into local politics, Mary and a servant, Ellen Kimbrell began experimenting with winemaking. Penfolds winery was producing mostly sherries and ports, but soon Riesling and red claret. The Dr. died in 1870 after a long illness. His wife Mary, assisted by Ellen, continued to grow grapes and make wines. By the late 1880’s Penfolds was making a third of all wine produced in Australia. Their daughter married Thomas Hyland, and the family increased their interests to the regions of New South Wales and Victoria. By the time Mary passed away in 1896, the winery became known as Penfolds Hyland Estate. Historically speaking, Mary Penfold and her trusted assistant Ellen Kimbrell truly were pioneer women in winemaking and unsung heroines.
By the early 1900’s Penfolds had become Australia’s top producing winery, and by 1948 Max Schubert was brought on as chief winemaker. Max brought Penfolds to the world stage, and through his experience created one of the world’s most sought after wines, Penfolds Grange, in the 1950’s.
Penfolds became one of the first wineries to name its wines after Bin numbers of where the wine was stored. Penfolds has only ever had four chief winemakers, and the quality of production has been maintained for nearly two centuries.
This iconic winery still produces some of the best wines in the market today, ranging in value from everyday affordable to the $3,000.00 bottle Grange, that is still produced and occasionally earning 100 points from wine critics. Stop by Ed’s and ask for a quick tour of our Australian section and we will point you in the direction of well made, quality wines from the land down under.
Penfolds Maxs Cabernet Sauvignon A recent homage to winemaker Max Schubert, the Max Cab boasts red, blue and black fruits melded with sweet spiced cinnamon. The tannins are silky and the finish lingers. I give it two bones!
Penfolds St Henri Shiraz
93 Points, The Wine Spectator
“Offers a mouthful of bright and juicy black cherry and raspberry flavors that are generous and supple, articulated by touches of clove, match a green tea and bergamot. Velvety tannins gain traction on the finish. Drink now through 2030.” Wine Spectator says it best- a special occasion wine, I give it three bones!
Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz is often referred to as “Baby Grange”, in part because the wine ages in the same barrels that held previous vintages of Grange. A multi-regional blend from South Australia, intense fruit flavors, exotic fig and quince and cedar spice. I give it two bones!
97 Points The Wine Advocate
The RWT is a Barossa Valley Shiraz matured in French oak barrels. RWT stands for Red Winemaking Trial- the initial name given to the wine program in 1995; of course the wines are no longer a trial. Launched in 2000 with the 1997 vintage, this wine will cellar for decades. Intense fruit, blackberry and wild blueberry notes with underlying Indian spices and forest floor. Full bodied with soft round layers of flavors. I give it three bones!
Penfolds Great Grandfather Port This rare Tawny is aged with a blend of grapes that are a minimum of 30 years on average. Raisined fruit, toffee and malt aromas, with a nutty vanilla finish. The Great Grandfather Port was created in 1994 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Penfolds. The core varietals in the blend are Mourvedre, Shiraz, Cabernet and Grenache. I give it three bones!
We are proud to offer many Penfolds wines here at Ed’s. Be on the lookout for our upcoming tastings and special events featuring these great wines- See you soon!
By Brunello Giancola as told to CRBrown