Penfolds launches ‘California Collection’

Australian winery Penfolds has launched four new Californian wines under its signature name and label. Although based on fruit grown and sourced in California, the two top wines include small portions of wine from Penfolds’ vineyards in South Australia too.

The four initial wines in the new series are all from the 2018 vintage. The top two wines in the collection, ‘Quantum Bin 98 Cabernet Sauvignon’ and ‘Bin 149 Cabernet Sauvignon’ are both blends of Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, with the Quantum Bin 98 mixed with 13% South Australian Shiraz and the Bin 149 blended with 14% South Australian Cabernet Sauvignon.

This follows in the Australian producer’s long-held practice of cross-regional blending that it does for its other top-flight wines. As such, Bin 98 and Bin 149 are listed as ‘Wines of the World’ by the producer. 

The other two wines in the collection are purely Californian, however. The ‘Bin 600 Cabernet Shiraz’ is a blend of fruit from Napa Valley, Sonoma and Paso Robles, while the ‘Bin 704 Cabernet Sauvignon’ is from Napa Valley. 

The wines are set for global release this March and are priced at £545 a bottle for the Quantum Bin 98; £125 a bottle for the Bin 149; £60 for the Bin 704 and £45 for the Bin 600. 


‘A first for Penfolds’

The new collection is part of a longstanding initiative to bottle Californian wines under the Penfolds label. 

In the 1980s the winery embarked on what it termed its ‘Heritage Selections’ programme, taking cuttings from its most prized single vineyard blocks in Australia. 

In 1998-1999, a selection of these cuttings from its Magill Estate and Kalimna vineyards were planted in Paso Robles, at an 11.5 acre site called ‘Block 30’, that Penfolds owns and today forms part of its Camatta Hills Estate. 

Experimental vintages from the site were made in 2006 and 2007 but never commercially released. Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago and his team picked up the project again in 2018. As well as using fruit from Block 30, grapes were sourced from Sonoma and Napa AVAs such as Oakville, Diamond Mountain, Howell Mountain and Rutherford. 

Gago called the new collection, ‘a first for Penfolds,’ but the company has also made it clear it is, “investigating winemaking opportunities” in Bordeaux and Champagne. 

Despite both the Quantum and Bin 149 lacking a regional appellation or even specific country tag, they and any future ‘Wines of the World’ from Penfolds or other producer are still able to receive a unique LWIN universal code to make them instantly identifiable.

The LWINs for the new Penfolds California wines are: 

1997291 Penfolds, Bin 600 Cabernet Shiraz, California 

1997305 Penfolds, Bin 704 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 

1997318 Penfolds, Bin 149 Cabernet Sauvignon 

1997321 Penfolds, Quantum Bin 98 Cabernet Sauvignon