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.
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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