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Penfolds releases first Bin 620 for half a century

Penfolds has chosen Shanghai to launch its ultra-rare Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz 2008.

The choice of the Chinese city for the launch of a wine that was last produced nearly 50 years ago was a calculated decision, Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago said.

‘For the first time in our winery’s 167-year history we are launching a Penfolds Special Bin wine outside of our homeland Australia,’ he said at the launch at Shanghai’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. ‘This signifies the importance of China to Penfolds.’

Penfolds only releases its Special Bin wines – first released in the early 1950s during a time of research and experimentation – from exceptional vintages.

The last time Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz was produced was the 1966 vintage, under the auspices of Max Schubert, the originator of Grange. It was partially foot-crushed and fermented at Magill Estate, outside Adelaide.

Of the 2008 vintage, Gago said, ‘Coonawarra was blessed with a great vintage when the earlier-ripening Shiraz could be blended with the later-ripening Cabernet to highlight the best of both varieties, and their synergistic union.

John Bird, former Penfolds senior winemaker and now consultant, who worked with Schubert during the 1960s, said he was particularly excited about the making of the wine.

‘In 2008, we tasted several rows of our Coonawarra blocks 5, 10 and 20 and realised that this had something extra, something unique. It transported me back to 1966 and the experimental Bin 620. The fruit profile is classic Penfolds. Having tasted many parcels of Coonawarra fruit it became apparent that we simply had to make this wine.’

Penfolds Bin 620 2008 is 51% Cabernet Sauvignon and 49% Shiraz. It was matured 12 months in new oak hogshead, 57% French and 43% American, and bottled in July 2009.

It will be available from Penfolds Cellar Doors, in restaurants and duty free outlets at AUD$1,000 (US$1,016) a bottle. In the UK it will retail at £750. The wine has also been bottled in magnum and imperial.

Written by Ch’ng Poh Tiong in Shanghai, and Adam Lechmere

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