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Thiénot x Penfolds
A Franco-Australian Champagne Venture

Peter Gago, chief winemaker at Penfolds, began his career in wine with a study at Roseworthy on how acidity impacts the development of “Champagne Character.” The project helped him land a job at Penfolds in 1989, making sparkling wine, including the Minchinbury Champagne, a historic label named for a winery Penfolds purchased in 1912.

Stanislas Thiénot(left) and Peter Gago Stanislas Thiénot(left) and Peter Gago
Gago brought a photo of that 1912 Minchinbury Champagne to Paris this May, to rib his new partners as they release the first wines from Champagne Thiénot x Penfolds, a collection of cuvées grown, vinified and blended in the French region that now guards the trademark on its name.

The collaboration began to take shape soon after Stanislas Thiénot, whose father established a Champagne house in 1985, began importing Penfolds wines to France four years ago. Given Gago’s fascination with Champagne, it was only a matter of time before the two began planning a project. Gago, in fact, has long used the process of blending Champagne as a reference when describing the Penfolds “house style”—a term adopted from Champagne in which the chef du cave blends varied elements to achieve a consistent profile for the label.

Gago and the team from Thiénot, including Stanislas, chef du cave Nicolas Uriel and Laurent Fédou, chef du cave of Canard-Duchêne (another Champagne house owned by Thiénot), decided to focus on the 2012 vintage, creating a 2012 Chardonnay Pinot Noir Cuvée and two single-vineyard wines: a 2012 Blanc de Blancs from a half-hectare parcel of 50- to 70-year-old vines in Avize and a 2012 Blanc de Noirs from a one-hectare parcel of pinot noir in Aÿ. The 2012 Cuvée will be released on the US market by Treasury Wine Estates in June 2019, at a retail price of $200; the single-parcel wines will follow in 2020.


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