Australia’s most famous winemaker, Penfolds, is looking to America for inspiration as Treasury Wine Estates’ (TWE) leading brand looks to extend its influence.
Penfolds will begin making wines using grapes from California’s Napa Valley from the 2018 harvest.
Penfolds chief winemaker, Peter Gago, said they plan to introduce Californian-sourced wines to the range by 2022.
He points to the fact that vine cuttings brought to Adelaide by Dr Christopher and Mary Penfold in 1844 came from California and in the 1990s, Kalimna cuttings went to the Camatta Hills vineyards in California, as examples of the links the company has with the region.
“The Penfolds winemaking team is delighted to engage in a profound expansion of our core range, while preserving Penfolds DNA and at the same time, building upon the creativity, ingenuity and boldness of our winemaking ancestry,” he said.
TWE today released a 28-year-old Penfolds brandy – at the very Penfolds price of $425 – as part of plans to refocus on its heritage in fortified wines.
A fortified $150 Barossa Shiraz with 6% Baijiu, the Chinese grain spirit, will be released in September as the company continues to focus on Asia for increased sales.
A Penfolds Champagne will also hit the market in 2019 as the company celebrates its 175th anniversary.
At this stage there’s no indication of the pricing around the Californian wines, but Gago says they will be “outstanding”.
He says the brandy “delivers vibrancy and freshness to the palate”.
“With this brandy we hope to have blown away the cobwebs of preconception and create a brandy like no other,” Gago said.
After 28 years maturing in barrels, the 1990 vintage single batch brandy has been finished with a splash of Grandfather Tawny, is only available at Penfolds cellar doors and several airports globally, including Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
While famous for Grange, currently priced at $850, the business has released several ultra-premium wines worth more than $1000 in recent years, including the Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz, the Bin 170 Kalimna Shiraz and Bin 60A Cabernet Shiraz.
But while Penfolds has been an outstanding performer for Treasury Wine Estates in recent years, the company faced claims in May that warehouses in China are awash with its cheaper wines, a suggestion vehemently denied by TWE’s chief executive officer, Michael Clarke.
Clarke said today that the expansion of the Penfolds portfolio into brandy, spirited wine and multi-country sourcing was central to TWE’s strategy.
“Innovation of this nature plays a critical role in driving long term, sustainable growth for the company as we broaden brand appeal and offerings to consumers around the world,” he said.
“What we have announced for Penfolds is just the start of a much larger agenda we have to deliver continued growth.”
The company will announce its F18 results on 16 August, 2018.
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