Penfolds launches g3: A Grange ‘blend of blends’
Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago has launched a wine that combines three Grange vintages and is expected to sell for A$3,000 per bottle. Anthony Rose spoke to him ahead of the unveiling and got a first taste of the ‘super-blend’…
Fresh from the typically snazzy launch of this year’s Collection, Penfolds’ chief winemaker Peter Gago was in London preparing the world for the launch of his new baby. The grand unveiling took place in Hong Kong this week.
Penfolds g3 is a super-blend of Grange from casks of the 2014 and 2012 vintages and the 2008 from the bottle, matured together for over a year in current use Grange barrels. It carries a price tag of 3,000 Australian dollars per bottle (£1,784 at exchange rates on 20 October).
‘People will not want to like the wine for their own reasons, but that’s Grange, bring it on.’
Before g3 was even a twinkle in Gago’s eye, he had been thinking of ‘getting back into the sparkling Burgundy thing’.
But then he asked himself ‘why sparkle it up?’ and so the idea came to him of creating a blend of blends, ‘a distillation of the essence of Grange’ as he put it.
‘2008 is the solid anchor, 2012 brings a lovely elegance, a sheen, poise, a foil, and the 2014 brings a freshening up’ said Gago.
‘G3 doesn’t look like the 2008, 2012 or 2014. There’s an otherness to it.’
As Gago put it, the solera model represents the knowledge and wisdom of Penfolds past handed down and distilled, while the blend is based on the idea of the Champagne multi-vintage cuvée. ‘It’s a blend made to a Grange template, with Grange DNA.’
Article continues below tasting note
First taste: Anthony Rose on Penfolds g3
Tasting Note, London, October 2017: Densely saturated colour, sweet, rich liquorice spice aromas, a hint of toffee. Very primary in its scented sweetness, with an incipient undertone of leathery maturity, immensely rich and concentrated palate-coating density and richness of blueberry and blackberry fruit in primary flush of youth yet a hint of development on palate. The expansive flavours are enveloped in a lovely sheen and voluptuous texture, the sweet tannins dangerously resolved and almost drinkable. Yet even at this stage, it has the backbone and flesh for long ageing; very Grange, very Penfolds, very Australian.
Drink: Now to 2060
Score: 98 / 100
Where to buy it: Express interest through Penfolds website
‘Not a gimmick’
Gago claimed that g3 is not a gimmick or the result of a mandate handed down from head office but completely winemaking driven.
‘I don’t look on it as innovation but taking a step back and something you might do if you didn’t know there were things you were supposed to conform to.’
Launched on 18 October at Liang Yi Museum Hong Kong, g3 comes in a limited edition of 1,200 individually numbered bottles.
With g3 writ large on a smart, modern label and a tall, dark green heavy-duty, broad-shouldered bottle, the wax-sealed package has luxury written all over it.
As it should at its $3,000 price tag.
Gago concedes that g3 will be a wine to be collected, invested in and inherited, but laughs off the idea that it will be solely an investor’s plaything.
He hopes, and believes, that that there will be wine lovers and wine clubs who will buy it to drink and share.
While aware of the controversy it will undoubtedly provoke, he seems to relish the challenge.
‘I don’t feel too guilty about this wine. People will not want to like the wine for their own reasons, but that’s Grange, bring it on.’
Teasingly, he adds that it’s only the first and there’ll be a follow-on, but declines to specify further.