Penfolds on merging French and Australian qualities in two vintages – Robb Report
Hot off the heels of the sold-out success of Bin 149, a global blend of Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa and South Australia, Penfolds has finally unveiled details of its Bordeaux project nearly a decade after its launch.
The company is made up of two vintages: Penfolds II 2019 ($350), created with Dourthe, the prestigious centuries-old Médoc winery; and 2019 FWT 585 ($80), an all-French wine (“FWT” stands for “French Wine Trial”) made in Bordeaux but imbued with Australian sensibility.
Penfolds II combines the polished structure of Cabernet and Bordeaux Merlot grapes from Dourthe, vinified in France and shipped, via bespoke stainless steel vats, to Australia, with Penfolds’ sumptuous Barossa Valley Shiraz. The final wine, of which only 50 cases have been awarded to the US market, is a striking composition of dark red fruit and silky tannins that is suitable for decades of ageing.
Meanwhile, the FWT 585 “looks like Penfolds, but you don’t know where it came from,” says senior winemaker Emma Wood. Working with Cabernet du Haut-Médoc, Merlot and Petit-Verdot, Wood nevertheless managed to evoke the house style of the Australian label, building a soft and round mouthfeel around the structure and more linear tannins of the fruit. French.
Chief winemaker Peter Gago notes that the brand has no intention of competing with French viticulture. “We wanted to make a Penfolds de France wine, bringing the philosophy of the house to the terroir,” he says. “We have the French sun above and the ground below, but everything in between is Penfolds.”