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Penfolds breaks into en primeur market

Penfolds is further staking its claim to be Australia’s most iconic winery by offering two of its rarest wines as ‘en primeur’ futures.

At a dinner last night at London’s Le Gavroche restaurant, Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago announced the offer to journalists and members of the European wine trade.

The two wines – both from the 2004 vintage – are the Bin 60A Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon-Barossa Valley Shiraz and the Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon.

The offer started on Monday and lasts until July 15. There are 1000 cases of the Bin 60A, and 500 cases of the Block 42.

Penfolds intends to pitch the price ‘around that of the 2000 Grange’, spokesman James Craig-Wood said – which would make it ‘plus or minus £100’.

With such minute quantities being offered, allocation will be ‘tight’, Craig-Wood said.

Oliver East of London merchants Berry Bros said, ‘we have discussed quantities informally with Penfolds and I would expect 10 or 20 cases in total. We’d think we were doing well with that amount.’

East said they would release the Penfolds later in the year so as not to ‘take the focus away’ from their Bordeaux en primeur offer.

Other merchants are similarly positive, although few consider it a moneyspinner. ‘No one will make any money out of it,’ one London retailer said.

The general opinion is that the Australian producer is keen to consolidate its position as the country’s ‘First Growth’ by stressing the rarity and desirability of its top wines.

However East said the wines – which he considers ‘extremely fine’ – could be a good investment. ‘You can judge wines on their previous performance. Looking at how well the 1962 is drinking, these 2004s could last 40 years.’

Peter Gago said, ‘2004 is proving to be a very strong vintage for Penfolds. Many of our low-yielding Barossa and Coonawarra vineyards produced superb parcels of quality fruit – some possibly reminiscent of the great 1962 South Australia vintage.’

Allocations will be confirmed by the middle of August. Depending on the success of the project, more wines may be offered in future, Craig-Wood said.

Contact www.penfoldsfutures.com for more information and to register or place an order.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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