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First taste: Thiénot X Penfolds Champagne collaboration

Yohan Castaing tastes three new Champagnes produced from a collaboration between Thiénot and Penfolds...

Thiénot and Penfolds have partnered to produce a special portfolio of three Champagnes that will be released as part of the celebration for the 175th anniversary of Penfolds.

This project arose from the friendship of Peter Gago, chief winemaker for Penfolds, and Stanislas Thiénot, CEO of Champagne Thiénot, as a way of together expressing their shared passion for wine.


Scroll down to see Yohan’s tasting notes & scores


These two important figures in the wine world have already been collaborating for some time, as Maison Thiénot has been the French importer for Penfolds wines for the past four years.

As for his credentials in Champagne production, Gago is happy to point out that he once wrote a thesis on the theme of how acidity affects the character of Champagne. He also emphasises the fact that Penfolds has been producing its own sparkling wines for quite some time, and so crafting a Champagne with a partner based in that region seemed to be a natural evolution.

The wines

The first three bottlings released under the special Thiénot x Penfolds label are made with wines produced from the outstanding 2012 vintage. The range includes a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as two single-vineyard wines from grand cru villages: a Blanc de Blancs from Avize, and a Blanc de Noirs from Aÿ

Nicolas Uriel, Thiénot’s chef de cave, collaborated closely with Gago to create Champagnes expressing, in the words of Gago, ‘their differences while sharing the collective interpretation by Thiénot and Penfolds.’

The trio has slightly lower levels of dosage than those usually chosen by Maison Thiénot and, to strengthen the cross-hemisphere tie, they use a liqueur d’expédition elaborated in barriques initially used for Penfolds’ flagship Yattarna Chardonnay.

Malolactic fermentation is deliberately avoided to retain freshness, and Uriel explains that they ‘chose to lower the amount of dosage and not use barrel-ageing so as to enhance the terroir transparency of these Champagnes, while benefitting from Peter Gago’s blending expertise for fine-tuning the style we wanted.’

These Champagnes will be distributed by Penfolds around the world except for France, where it will be in the hands of the Thiénot group.

Thiénot X Penfolds Champagne: