In this year’s Best of the Best, we continue to honour the brands and people who have continued to create covetable products, even in the midst of a global pandemic. Here, we have Penfolds score the ‘best hat-trick’ in the wine and spirits category
In a year of many lows, Australia’s Penfolds managed a remarkable high: a trio of fine wines. To begin, in August 2020, the producer issued g4, the second edition in its planned triumvirate of cuvees of its most collected Shiraz: Grange. Then it followed up with the 2016 Grange, which fast became a critical darling. Finally, in early spring, it launched four groundbreaking new bottles of its California Collection.
Each of the 2,500 bottles of g4 is numbered and has an elegantly simple label that’s a departure from a typical example of Grange. But this bottle is far from typical. Its tagline, ‘Greater than the sum of its parts’, is something that could be said of nearly any Penfolds wine, but it resonates as especially true of this mix of vintage years: 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2016. Chief winemaker Peter Gago says: “These four Grange vintages are among our favourites of the last two decades.” And we’d say their sum, in the shape of this g4, is among our favourite wines of the last two decades.
The California Collection debuted in early 2021, introducing two special bottles, designated as wines of the world for their inclusion of fermented juice made on two continents. The premium Quantum Bin 98 is made with Shiraz from Australia and Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, and the delicious all-Cabernet Bin 149 is named for the 14.9 per cent of Australian Cabernet in its blend. The two other bottles include fruit from multiple American Viticultural Areas in California – a rare practice stateside – and Penfolds’ Shiraz cuttings planted in the US more than 20 years ago. Few producers could pull off such a hat-trick in sequential years, let alone in a matter of eight months.