Venture beyond the famously revered iconic reds and discover the wondrous world of Penfolds white wines.
While there’s never a wrong time of year to enjoy the wonderful red wines within Penfolds highly acclaimed portfolio, this time of year in the UK (summer, apparently!) does tend to see us opting more for lighter, chilled wines, meaning it’s more likely you’ll find yourself delving into your white wine collection.
It may be that when you think of Penfolds, the acclaimed reds - most notably the collectors’ favourite, Penfolds Grange – spring to mind, but the white wines in the Penfolds range have in fact been steadily establishing a reputation for greatness to rival their famous red counterparts over the years.
Most recently, Penfolds 2021 Reserve Bin A Chardonnay has been awarded Best in Show in this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards, judged by some of the greatest palates in the industry. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find there are plenty more accolades for Penfolds white wines, dating back to the 1800s when Mary Penfold, wife of Dr Christopher Rawson Penfold, won awards for her achievements. Records show that in 1890, Penfolds won an award at the Royal Agricultural & Horticultural Show in Adelaide for a “White Wine of Light Character” – the engraving on the trophy reading “Mary Penfold & Co.” Today, this award-winning legacy continues, under the stewardship of Penfolds Chief Winemaker, Peter Gago and Senior White Winemaker, Kym Schroeter.
Want to know more about the wondrous whites of the Penfolds range? Here’s a selection of some of the most celebrated white wines for you to discover:
Sitting alongside wines such as Grange and St Henri in Penfolds luxury and icon range is Penfolds Bin 144 Yattarna Chardonnay. A wine of meticulous refinement, generations of Penfolds winemakers inspired the creation of this white wine that has gone on to earn a reputation as one of Australia’s finest. First launched in 1998 with the 1995 vintage, the aspiration and independence of mind across generations of Penfolds winemakers inspired the ambition to create a white wine that would set the standard for ultra-fine Australian chardonnay.
Like Grange, Yattarna embraces a multi-regional, merit-based sourcing philosophy, selectively sourcing only the very best chardonnay fruit from cool-climate regions, combined with sophisticated winemaking. It took 144 trials before Yattarna was first released, such was the level of perfection sought. Yattarna reflects Penfolds patience and continued commitment to its original goal, its very name being drawn from local indigenous language, meaning ‘little by little, gradually’. The style continues to evolve, with each vintage providing the opportunity to further raise the quality bar.
Reserve Bin A has enjoyed great success at wine shows both in Australia and in the international arena. The 2009 vintage won ‘Best White Wine in the World’ at the International Wine Challenge in London in 2011, while the 2017 vintage won the top award for the best wine in the Royal Sydney Show.
Reserve Bin A Chardonnay has evolved into a wine with a distinctive, single-region style in its own right, with a contemporary and expressive Adelaide Hills chardonnay persona. Fruit is hand-picked into small bins and then whole bunch pressed. A portion of the juice is incrementally filled to barrel directly from the press and allowed to undergo a natural fermentation, without inoculation. Enhanced mouthfeel and complexity is achieved by fermenting and maturing on solids with regular yeast lees stirring.
Fondly referred to by the winemaking team as ‘Baby Yattarna’, Bin 311 Chardonnay truly reflects the winemakers’ mantra ‘we always go where the fruit grows best and where it best suits style’. In 2018, fruit sourcing moved to multi-regional cool-climate regions; Adelaide Hills, Tumbarumba, and Tasmania. In true Bin 311 style, it exhibits lemon/lime aromas and a mineral acid backbone, complemented by barrel fermentation and maturation in seasoned oak. Minimal filtration is employed, preserving elegant fruit flavours.
Whilst Chardonnay is the most prolific varietal amongst the Penfolds white wines, the Riesling wines in the Penfolds family are also highly regarded. South Australia has gained worldwide recognition for producing definitive world-class Riesling over the years, with the region’s high altitude and cool-climate resulting in Riesling wines of great finesse and elegance with a capacity for long-term cellaring. Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling, created in the 1990’s from grapes sourced from the High Eden sub-region, is a classic example, capturing many attributes of the Eden Valley locale. A highly versatile wine, Bin 51 is characteristically dry, light and highly aromatic. It can be enjoyed as a vibrant young wine on release or in a decade or two with careful cellaring.