Penfolds has just launched its icon wines in Europe – including the first-ever bottling of the new £165 Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, and the Grange 2007.
Bin 169: first ever bottling
Penfolds had been ‘wanting to make Bin 169 for 25 or 30 years,’ chief winemaker Peter Gago told a masterclass at the London International Wine Fair.
The reason they had never got round to it, he said, was that it would have ‘compromised’ the Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, a blend of vineyards in Coonawarra, Barossa, Wrattonbully and Padthaway.
‘There’s now more fruit at A grade level in Coonawarra,’ Gago told Decanter.com, ‘which is why we’re able to make the Bin 169 without taking away from Bin 707.’
Around 1000 cases are made of the Bin 169, compared to 7000-9000 of Grange.
The wines released today – which were launched in Australia at the beginning of the month – were Grange 2007, Yattarna Chardonnay 2009, Reserve Bin 10A Chardonnay 2010, Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Bin 169 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Magill Estate Shiraz 2009, RWT Barossa Valley Shiraz 2009, and St Henri Shiraz 2008.
Referring to the complexities of the bin numbering system, which dates back to Grange founder Max Schubert’s system of numbering trial lots of wine, Gago said, ‘The term “bin” has real meaning in a Penfolds context.’
Per bottle prices in the UK range are; £350 for the Grange, £85 for the Yattarna, £60 for the Bin 10A Chardonnay, £165 for the Bin 707 and the Bin 169, £89 for the RWT and £78 for the Magill.
Penfolds is also releasing a 100% Mataro (or Mourvedre) from Block 25 Kalimna fruit, which normally goes into the Bin 138 Grenache Syrah Mourvedre.
Earlier this year Penfolds had been heavily criticised by wine merchants for the prices on another of its ranges, the Penfolds Bin range.
Prices released in March included jumps of 20-50% on wines such as Bin 138 Grenache Syrah Mourvedre, Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 and Bin 389 – dubbed ‘the poor man’s Grange’.
Today Gago defended the increases saying it was simply a matter of trying to bring prices into line around the world and prevent constant movement of the wines.
With global price parity, he said, ‘there is less inclination to ship wines around the world. If we equalise prices we cut out the grey market.’
He also stressed that this was ‘not Bordeaux’ and Penfolds prices were not going to fluctuate wildly to try to keep in line with the vagaries of the marketplace.
‘We will increase prices incrementally.’
Written by Adam Lechmere