Terms like Koonunga Hill, Coonawarra and Pokolbin most-likely don’t roll off the tongues of wine aficionados like Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino, but someday they will. Our import selection, if you haven’t already guessed, comes from “down under”. . . Australia. With all the hoopla over the Australian tourist ads here it was time to find a pod wine from there.
This should come as no surprise to those of you who have experienced Australian wines in the past. Many of their wineries are much older than our California wineries. Penfolds was established in 1844 in South Australia by Dr. Christopher Penfold, who emigrated from England, with his wife, Mary and their daughter, Regina. Dr. Penfold settled in So. Australia, wishing to make wine as a treatment for anemia. By 1864 he was well-known as both a doctor and vintner. He died in 1870 and Mary managed the estate until her passing in 1895. Their daughter, Regina, and husband, Thomas Hyland, expanded the business. Their sons, Frank and Leslie took the surname Penfold-Hyland in tribute to their grandparent’s pioneering efforts.
Today Penfolds is owned by Tooth & Co., a subsidiary of the Adelaide Steamship Group, with interests in the food, beverage and hospitality industries in Australia. One thing which separates Australian wines from the U.S. or Europe is the vintage. Because they are in the Southern hemisphere their summers and winters are the opposite of ours. They harvest from January through May. It’s not uncommon to drink a young white wine from Australia in June of the same year when our grapes have just barely flowered! Therefore, their wines are always roughly six months “older” than ours.
Australian nomenclature differs from European and American in that wines can be named for either grapes or regions. Uniform regulations in each of the six wine-producing states require that any wine which is labeled with a single variety contain a minimum of 80%, and the grapes must be 100% from the vintage year if that is stated.
Our selection would probably be labeled a red table wine if it were from California. The Australians value their shiraz more than their cabernet! This native grape of the northern Rhone area of France seems to do extremely well in Australia. It is often blended to add character and body.
Our selection is a big, rich wine in the Australian tradition. Deep garnet color and expansive nose with a touch of spiciness from the shiraz. The taste has a lot of the flavor components of both grapes. Slightly herbal, green olive flavors with meaty extracts from the cabernet coupled with that marvelous spicy, peppery quality of the shiraz.
Serve at room temperature with game, or red meats like pork tenderloin braised in stock with new potatoes. (Might even try putting a shrimp on the barbie!)
Cellaring Notes: Will age and develop complexity for five years or more.