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Australia's Penfolds wine heritage highlighted during Wands event 12/11/2004

Penfolds, Australia's most famous wine, featured in the first autumn wine-tasting session organised by Wands Limited at the SAS Radisson Baypoint Hotel. This event served as an opportunity to appreciate the different characteristics of four red wines: Penfolds Bin 407 (2000), Penfolds Bin 707 (1997), Penfolds Bin 28 (2001), and Penfolds St Henri (1998), all elaborately and professionally described by Wands Wine Consultant, Mr Howard Price, who conducted the Tasting. The evening included a special surprise tasting of Penfolds Grange 1996, an iconic wine recognised as one of the world’s finest red wines. Guest of Honour at this Event was Australian High Commissioner, H.E. Richard John Palk.

In his short address, Wands Managing Director, Mr Anthony J Tabone, said: "This is another opportunity offered by Wands Limited to the ever growing number of wine lovers in Malta to get to know more about particular wines and their respective origins. We, at Wands, were the pioneers in introducing new world wines, and particularly, Australian wines to Malta."

He then introduced Mr David Micallef St John and Mr Donald Caligari, who together with Mr Price form the new Wands Wine Management Team under the direction of Wands General Manager, Mr Gabriel Wirth.

The highlight of the evening was the tasting of Penfolds Grange 1996. Although according to Mr Price, the peak drinking time for Penfolds Grange is between 2006 and 2040, most guests did not mind at all tasting the result of the fruit for this great wine which comes from low yielding Shiraz wines grown at selected vineyards throughout South Australia. This is a much sought after wine which is also very difficult to get hold. It was indeed a treat for all participants attending this special event.

Penfolds have been responsible for defining the Australian style, where great wine from the New World is concerned. One wine critic recently stated that the chief winemaker at Penfolds rates third in list of most responsible jobs in Australia after the Prime Minister and the captain of the Australian cricket team.

The story of Penfolds started in 1844, when a young English doctor, Dr Christopher Rawson Penfold,  before leaving England had obtained some vine cuttings from south of France. Like many doctors, he had a firm belief in the medicinal qualities of wine. Dr Penfold built his medical practice and made fortified wines – port and sherry – for his patients. As the demand for his wine grew, the Penfolds expanded the vineyards and increased production.

The four wines from Penfolds Wine Collection consisted of two Cabernet Sauvignons and two of the Shiraz type. Penfolds Bin 407 (2000), selling at about Lm10 a bottle, is a  full-bodied but elegant wine style, showing benchmark Cabernet Sauvignon mint and blackcurrant flavours with superb oak integration from 12 months maturation in America and French oak barrels. It has great depth, complexity and length.

Penfolds Bin 707 is widely regarded as benchmark Australian Cabernet Sauvignon. The 1997 vintage tasted during the evening, and selling at about Lm24 a bottle, is a full-bodied wine with outstanding depth, complexity and structure, the palate offers great intensity and concentration of varietal flavour balanced by finely integrated American oak.

Penfolds Bin 28 (2001) is a blend of Shiraz from selected South Australian vineyards, including the renowned Penfolds Kalimna vineyard. Selling at Lm9 a bottle, this full-flavoured, classic Shiraz spends at least a year maturing in older American oak to achieve a balance of ripe, spicy fruit, toasty oak and velvety soft tannins.

St Henri is unique amongst ultra-premium Australian Shiraz, maturing in large old casks and deriving its character entirely from the manifold varietal flavours of its fruit.  The 1998 vintage, at Lm20 a bottle, is a classically elegant wine, offering impressive depth and structure ideal for long-term cellaring.