Behind the Scenes of the Penfolds 2017 Release

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Vintage Cellars
October 19, 2017
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The wait for the Penfolds Collection 2017 is over, and according to Chief Winemaker, Peter Gago, it doesn’t disappoint. But why do wine-lovers anticipate Penfolds’ annual release witch such enthusiasm? Here’s a look behind the label.

The Story of Penfolds

The history of Penfolds is very much woven into the history of Australia – although, Penfolds even pre-dates Australia’s federation! Founders Dr Christopher and Mary Penfold, planted their fledgling vineyard with cuttings they had carried on their voyage over to Australia. In 1844, it was officially established as the Penfolds wine company at Magill Estate.

By 1907, Penfolds had become South Australia’s largest winery and by 1920, they were producing one third of the state’s wine. The spirit of scientific innovation was solidified in the 1940s and ‘50s, when Chief Winemaker Max Schubert experimented with long-lasting wines – hence the birth of the iconic Grange.

Grange is an important character in the Penfolds story. Throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, Penfolds’ Grange won a host of medals and became one of the most revered wines in the world. On the 50th anniversary of its birth, Penfolds Grange was given a heritage listing in South Australia. Perhaps the reason why wine-lovers are so dedicated to Penfolds is their dogged refusal to rest on their laurels.

A New Dynasty

Penfolds’ annual release always causes a stir in the wine community – and not just because the label consistently wins accolades for their wines. The hype is a product of the distinct character of every vintage; making each release delicious and uniquely collectable. One thing each release has in common is that with careful cellaring, these wines will gradually develop and reward patience.

The team of winemakers, sometimes forgotten in the excitement of a new release, shouldn’t be discounted. The current Penfolds winemaking team – lead by Peter Gago – has more than 100 years between them as winemakers. It’s a brand that rewards innovative thinking, which their 2017 Range is a testament to.

This range is inspired by the fine art – and at times, science – of matching food and wine. As the inspiration for the 2017 release, Food and Wine is Art is a celebration of fine culture. Staying true to philosophy, The Collection can be enjoyed now or be cellared – for instance, the iconic 1953 Grange is now 64 years old.

Wine-lovers look forward to the release of a new collection each year because of the subtleties unique to each vintage. Who knows from where the next shining star will come? Each wine bears the mark of the Penfolds’ ‘house style’, breaking new ground in the realm of character and provenance while staying faithful to the values of quality and conviction they’ve upheld since 1844.

You can read about the extensive collection online – a fascinating read for lovers of the intricacies of vintage – but here are some brief highlights:


Peak Drinking:

2020 – 2060

64 years after the release of Penfolds’ favourite Grange – 1953 Grange – the 2013 vintage is slated to be universally acclaimed as a classic Penfolds vintage; not to mention a certified classic Grange vintage.

As the most powerful, original expression of Penfolds and its blending philosophy, this shiraz delivers surging aromatics of dark sauces and fresh raspberries for a formidable, densely packed palate.


Peak Drinking:

Now – 2037

Known as ‘Baby Grange’ for maturing partly in previous Grange barrels, this wine combines the structure of cabernet sauvignon with the richness of shiraz, to deliver a judicious balance of fruit and oak. “A great example of a vintage release that isn’t cabernet, that isn’t shiraz… that probably can’t be second-guessed as a cabernet/shiraz blend,” says Peter Gago.


Peak Drinking:

Now – 2032

Vibrant, fresh and lively, this powerful shiraz presents dark black-cherry fruit flavours with an unobtrusive acidity that ensures full cellarability and long-term enjoyment. “No rough edges, nothing pokes out. But surely this is what Penfolds Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz is meant to be?” says Peter. “The stylistic template of 1959 remains intact.”


Peak Drinking:

Now – 2023

Sourced from old Barossa Valley vines (some over 100 years old), this drop delivers a ferric palate of rusty earthiness, coupled with an assortment of dates, fresh figs and salty prosciutto. “When something works, why change it?” says Peter. We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.