The Australian chardonnay the world’s wine judges love

Penfolds normally turns heads for its reds, but an Australian chardonnay it produces blew the judges away at the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2022.

Penfolds Reserve Bin 20A Chardonnay 2020 was awarded 96 points, the highest ranking awarded to Chardonnay in this year’s competition and only narrowly beaten to the Chardonnay Trophy by Trinity Hill 125 Chardonnay 2020 from Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.

Reserve Bin A Chardonnay has evolved into a wine that is now a distinctive, single-region style, with a contemporary and expressive Adelaide Hills chardonnay persona. Fruit is hand-picked into small bins and then whole-bunch pressed.

The IWSC judges tasting note described the Australian chardonnay as: “Richness of ripe apples, peaches and pears. Full, ripe, rounded palate with crafted freshness holding the fruits together in gelled harmony. Elegant and restrained yet weighty and present. A well-made wine – reassuringly correct in every possible way.”

Only four Australian wines received Gold medals at the IWSC: Penfolds Reserve Bin 20A Chardonnay 2020, All Saints Museum Muscat, Peccavi Wines Chardonnay 2019, De Bortoli Old Boys 21 Year OId Barrel Aged Tawny NV.

The luscious Australian chardonnay also won Gold and was awarded 95 points at the 2021 National Wine Show in May.

The judges at the Global Fine Wine Challenge gave it Gold too. Andrea Pritzker MW awarded it 98 points and noted: “Very overt struck-match reductive bouquet, flint, gun-smoke. Lively acidity, excellent tension, lots of peach concentration underpinned by citrus acidity. Superb length.”

As for the wine sites …

Langton’s verdict: “Very expressive, pure and driven, the Reserve Bin A Chardonnay tends to spend more time on the palate than it does in the glass. The pale sunshine gold of Bin 20A beams warm and bright. A charmer from the hand of winemaker Kym Schroeter, this is a Chardonnay that makes its presence felt. It is ethereal, yet powerful. Rich in complexity, yet gloriously refreshing thanks to that fresh-struck match and mineral line. It has levity, it has length, it will keep us interested for many years to come.”

It’s priced at around $124.99 a bottle.

Penfolds previews inaugural French reds

Last month, Penfolds previewed its latest annual collection in Bordeaux, which features three country of origin portfolios – Australian, Californian and an inaugural French release.

The 2022 Collection will be available from 4 August at Penfolds Cellar Doors (Magill Estate Winery and Barossa Valley Cellar Door) and selected fine wine stores globally, including in travel retail.

The French release is led by a wine made in partnership with one of Bordeaux’s most respected winemaking houses, Dourthe Bordeaux. Led by Penfolds Chief Winemaker Peter Gago and Dourthe Chief Winemaker Frédéric Bonnaffous, the two houses collaborated to craft a wine that spans Northern and Southern hemispheres, blending grapes from Bordeaux (71%) and South Australia (29%).

The result is Penfolds II Cabernet Shiraz Merlot 2019. The name Penfolds II represents two winemakers coming together, to express quality through a blend of traditional French winemaking techniques and Australian winemaking methods. Made from the 2019 vintage, the final wine was blended and bottled in South Australia by Penfolds winemakers.

Peter Gago said: “This is the start of our French winemaking journey. 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.”

Dourthe CEO Patrick Jestin said: “To push the boundaries and craft such a blend was an unexpected and utterly fascinating concept. Collaborating and cultivating firm friendships with the Penfolds winemaking team in blending such an exceptional wine was a dream come true. For us, this was ground-breaking, resulting in a totally original, innovative wine which far surpassed all our expectations, while remaining true to the culture and style of our respective countries and houses.”

The second wine to be released in August is the 2019 Penfolds FWT 585a trial Bin wine made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

Since 2018, many trials and blends were tasted throughout the classification process as part of a new chapter for Penfolds in France. The Trial wine was made at Cambon la Pelouse Winery with Penfolds Senior Winemaker Emma Wood playing a key role.

“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,” said Gago.

Australian chardonnay wins top US award

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