Penfolds has always been a pioneering winemaker. Established in 1844, they are one of the oldest winemakers in Australia and since inception have pushed the boundaries of viniculture. As part of Penfolds’ search for innovative new ways to discover wine, they have just released the first California Collection – the result of their explorations in the wine growing regions of California that, unusually and boldly, incorporate some of the winemaker’s Australian grapes too.
In the late 1990s, Penfolds made the decision to explore vineyards in California and in 1998-99 the winemakers planted some of their most treasured Australian vines in the Napa Valley. Now, more than 20 years later, Penfolds is ready to release its inaugural California Collection of four wines.
These four bottles combine the finest in Californian viniculture with Penfolds expertise. The two flagship wines in the collection, the 2018 Quantum Bin 98 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2018 Bin 149 Cabernet Sauvignon are what the winemakers call “Wine of the World”. They carefully blend the finest cabernet from the Napa Valley with select grapes from South Australia. The Quantum includes 13 per cent of the finest shiraz from Penfolds’ Australian vineyards and the Bin 149 contains 14.9 per cent Australian cabernet sauvignon (hence the name). The two other wines in the collection, the Bin 704 Cabernet Sauvignon and Bin 600 Cabernet Shiraz use grapes solely from California.
Creating a “Wine of the World” that blends grapes from two different countries is an innovative and brave move in an industry that tends towards tradition. The idea came about when the Penfolds winemaking team took some of their landmark Australian wines to taste and benchmark alongside the Californian blends. The team noticed that adding some of the Australian wine elevated the blend and so they pursued the idea that resulted in the Wines of the World.
Penfolds admits some nervousness in releasing such a novel cross-border winemaking project to the world but the reception has been deservedly warm. The proof is in the drinking and all four wines combine exceptional quality and drinkability. The Quantum and Bin 149 especially show the extraordinary results of open-minded cooperation between two of the world’s finest winemaking regions.
2018 Quantum Bin 98 Cabernet Sauvignon, £545; 2018 Bin 149 Cabernet Sauvignon, £125; 2018 704 Cabernet Sauvignon, £60; and 2018 Bin 600 Cabernet Shiraz, £45. Penfolds.com