Recalling the past and looking to the future with Penfolds

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This week we’re on location in Bordeaux, the heart of French wine country, with one of the great names in Australia wine. Australian wine, you say? In Bordeaux? Well yes. I had better explain, though full details will follow in several weeks once a news embargo is lifted.

There was a welcome international flavour to the guest list at the Penfolds event in France this week, with Chief Winemaker Peter Gago (above right and below) a magnificently engaging host at the 7 Restaurant overlooking the Garonne River

I’m here in the centre of Bordeaux, staying at one of the great hotels in south-west France, Le Grand Hotel Intercontinental Bordeaux, as a guest of Penfolds, the most famous label in Australian winemaking.

The Treasury Wine Estate brand, led by Chief Winemaker Peter Gago, has come here to reveal to guests – including retailers, distributors, other business partners and media – its 2022 Collection, which will hit the global market in August.

We can’t – yet – report anything about the collection other than to say it’s multi-faceted and features a number of surprises that will spark the interest of wine, and particularly Penfolds, enthusiasts.

French flair: Le Grand Hotel Bordeaux, where the big 2022 Collection reveal took place this week; details to follow

In a mirror of previous Penfolds events we have attended, the agenda is led by a focus on cultural experience, led of course by wine itself. On Wednesday night around 45 guests had the pleasure of attending the famed Cité du Vin, which houses a range of spaces that take you on an interactive journey through wine. It is also home to a Picasso art exhibition, which visitors toured before dinner at 7 Restaurant with its wonderful views of the Garonne river.

Peter Gago introduces guests to the 1962 Coonawarra Cabernet Kalimna Shiraz (Bin 60A), 1990 Grange and other superb wines on the gala night on Thursday. Below, Penfolds Managing Director Tom King, a well-known figure in travel retail circles, introduces the evening

On Thursday, Bordeaux’s historic Palais de la Bourse played host to the Penfolds Gala Dinner. The evening didn’t just salute the new collection, it paid homage to one of the greatest Australian wines ever produced, the legendary Penfolds 1962 Bin 60A, on its 60th anniversary. The wine was originally developed by winemaker Max Schubert, who also created the famed Grange expression.

As one fellow writer noted, this was a “hit parade of Penfolds” rolled out to a select audience. Alongside the aforementioned and unforgettable 1962 Coonawarra Cabernet Kalimna Shiraz (Bin 60A), we tasted a great 2008 Yattarna Chardonnay, a 1990 Grange, a 2008 Bin 630 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz, a 2004 Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon, a 50 Year Old Rare Tawny and a 1962 Bin 414 Show Sauternes.

Guests arrive to the old Bordeaux Bourse, dressed beautifully in Penfolds red, for the gala evening

Of the magnificent 1990 Grange, Peter Gago said memorably, “The colour and character of the ’90 are surely on the ascent. Symbolically this was an important wine for Penfolds and it opened many doors for Australian wine.”

Every glass on this magnificent evening hosted by Penfolds was worth flying in for. As for the 2022 Collection, well that will take just a few weeks longer…watch this space for more details, images, video and an interview with Peter Gago.

A once in a lifetime taste of 1962 Coonawarra Cabernet Kalimna Shiraz, which fetched around A$28,000 a bottle at auction recently

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