Australian winemaking company, Penfolds, prides itself on being a winemaker’s wine, beloved by makers and consumers alike. Mention new world wines and Penfolds is bound to come up, thanks to a rock-solid brand identity that incites recollection at the word “BIN” and a penchant for excelling with traditional wine varietals instead of experimenting with trendy new varieties. While sticklers to tradition may get a bad rep, Penfolds is anything but. Couple that with 172 years of winemaking experience, they’ve arguably become hallmarks of Australian wine at its finest.

We consult Patrick Dowling, Wine Making Ambassador SEAMEA for Penfolds, about what to look out for when it comes to wine, and what you should pick up the next time you’re eyeing a Penfolds bottle.

Lifestyle Asia (LSA): What are some of the biggest wine trends this year?

Patrick Dowling (PD): There is a move towards more traditional varietals and winemaking areas. In the past five or 10 years, we’ve noticed a lot of interest in new varietals and regions, but there’s been a rise in interest towards Cabernet blends, Rieslings and Chardonnay. Our customers tend to lean towards these traditional varieties which we’ve excelled at for the past 172 years

Patrick Dowling of Penfolds

LSA: How would you get someone who doesn’t drink wine to enjoy the more traditional varietals?

PD: It’s not hard to get exposure to more traditional wines if you’re shopping online, in stores or dinning at your favourite restaurant. There are a multitude of wine events and tastings you could go to as well. However, I’d suggest you begin your journey with wines that are easy to drink and enjoy with or without food. From the Penfolds Range, I’d recommend the Koonunga Hill Autumn Riesling. It’s a great entry point into wine — it’s citrusy, crisp, fresh and pairs well with an array of dishes, especially Asian dishes. For reds, try the Bin 2. It’s 90 per cent Shiraz and 10 per cent Mouverde. It’s less tannic, has notes of more new fruit, and is a supple and sweet option that’s really easy to drink.

LSA: What would you say is Penfolds’ greatest hit with the South East Asian market?

PD: Bin 28. We’ve been in Southeast Asia now for decades, and we’ve garnered great brand visibility. There’s good trust in the wine and our name because it’s Australian, it’s Shiraz, and it’s Barossa Valley. Those are the three things that check the boxes for wine drinkers here. It’s also one of our signature wines, first being released in 1959 from our famed Kalimna Vineyard, and it has become the litmus test of quality across the Penfolds Bin range of wines.

Bin 28 is a ripe, robust warm-climate Shiraz.
Bin 28 is a ripe, robust warm-climate Shiraz.

LSA: Has there been any kind of wine technology that’s becoming more prevalent when it comes to making Penfolds wine?

PD: The predilection for using stainless steel fermenters provides new world wines with very pristine and primary fruit characters. The introduction of oxygen throughout the winemaking process can change the flavour and texture of a wine, which can be wonderful in the right context. Penfolds, like many new world producers, practice more protective winemaking methods for the most part, which preserves the primary flavours of the variety. There is also the complete winemaking transformation of Chardonnay across Australia that has put this variety back on the map.  In the past, too many wines were made with too much new oak, alcohol content and malolactic fermentation.  Today, many Australian Chardonnays from right across the country are more compact, lean and tightly wound, without losing the traditional sunshine in a glass feel that we’re famous for.

LSA: With the surge in popularity of Australian Chardonnay, what from Penfolds in particular has become more sought after by consumers?

PD: Yattarna Chardonnay has been dubbed the white Grange of our brand. It’s an icon for our brand that is incredibly desirable. Personally, the Reserve Bin A Chardonnay is my favourite from the whole Penfolds portfolio. It’s a stunning wine from Adelaide Hills. We don’t chase trends when it comes to white varietals, we stick to the classics, and that’s why it’s wonderful that people are drinking traditional wines again.

Beatrice Bowers
Features Editor
Beatrice Bowers writes about beauty, drinks, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she moonlights as a Niffler for novels and can be found en route to bankruptcy at your nearest bookstore. Don't tell her boss.