Australian winemaker Penfolds has joined family-owned Champagne house Thiénot to create three Champagnes from the 2012 vintage. The wines are a cross-country collaboration, created to celebrate Penfolds' 175th anniversary.
The liqueur d'expédition came from barriques of Penfolds’ Yattarna (Chardonnay), while everything else came from Champagne, according to Peter Gago, Penfolds’ Chief Winemaker.
“This is a first for us," said Stanislas Thiénot, Thiénot’s managing director. "I am proud to say this has also been a truly collaborative experience from the very beginning. We have created blends reflective of both Thiénot and Penfolds wine styles and philosophies.”
“There is a shared Australian and French vision and philosophy,” added Mr Gago.
Mr Gago said creating a prestige sparkling wine was not an unexpected move for Penfolds. “Penfolds has long dabbled with sparkling wine,” he said. Although it stopped in the 1990s, the company had been thinking about re-starting sparkling production for the last two decades. “And when looking to re-start, why not start at the top – Champagne!”
The first wine, the 2012 Champagne Thiénot x Penfolds Chardonnay Pinot Noir Cuvée, was launched in Paris on Friday, 10th May and will be available in June.
Nick Ryan, wine writer for The Australian newspaper, who was present at the launch, said he’d been expecting a fuller style of Champagne, given the Australian input, but the wine was “fine and precise”.
The wines were created by Thienot chef de cave Nicolas Uriel, in consultation with Peter Gago. The grapes for the wines were sourced from vineyards in Champagne.
Alain Thiénot founded the Champagne house bearing his name in 1985, drawing on his experience as a merchant and his relationships with Champagne producers. Today, the firm is an independent, family-run business.
Penfolds is one of Australia’s oldest fine wine producers, founded in South Australia in 1844. It is the producer of Australia’s most collectible wine, Penfolds Grange. This year, it celebrates its 175th anniversary.
The 2012 Champagne Thiénot x Penfolds Blanc de Blancs (Avize Grand Cru) and 2012 Champagne Thiénot x Penfolds Blanc de Noirs (Aÿ Grand Cru) will be released in 2020.
Peter Gago did not rule out a further collaboration.