Penfolds identifies 'mystery' wine at clinic

Penfolds News Wine News
  • Monday 20 December 2004

Penfolds has just identified an ‘unknown’ wine that was brought to its recent re-corking clinic in London.

The wine, a 1985 Bin 222, had chief winemaker Peter Gago checking through his vintage notes, only to find he had no record of such a label.

After extensive searches through records back in Australia, the wine was confirmed to be a Penfolds 1985 Bin 222 Eden Valley Shiraz. It was produced as a specially-commissioned, regional one-off trial for the UK market only.

Penfolds describes its re-corking clinics as ‘the ultimate in after-sales service.’ Penfolds wines aged 15 years and older are eligible to be assessed and, if necessary, opened, tasted, topped up with the current vintage and re-capsuled. A special back label is applied to approved bottles, signed and dated by the winemaker.

The back labels are particularly useful when trading Penfolds wines on the auction market, as well as for collectors wishing to maintain records of the condition of their wine. A bottle of rare 1952 Grange sold for a record price of AUS $20,600 at auction recently.

It was only the second time the event has taken place in the UK. As well as a wine ‘healthcheck’, the clinic provides an opportunity for Penfolds wine enthusiasts to get a market appraisal of their wines. However, it can prove a deflating experience – bottles which have not stood up to the test of time, or are corked, will not be given the seal of approval, and in some cases, Gago advises owners to drink up soon, or even that the wine is a write-off.

‘The tension is palpable at these events,’ Gago said. ‘Sommeliers of leading restaurants and private clients who have nurtured their Penfolds wines are equally anxious to have them checked and evaluated.

In total, 29 members of the public came to the clinic, bringing 102 bottles. Of these, 65 were opened, and only nine were not given the seal of approval.

The wines were mostly Grange, ranging from 1964 to 1989. There were other Penfolds wines: St Henri 1981, Bin 28 1987 and the mysterious Bin 222 1983. The oldest wine not to meet approval was a 1976.

A similar clinic was held in Zurich, at which the oldest wine produced was a 1955 Grange.

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