I tried a $20K bottle of Penfolds for the iconic Aussie wine brand’s 175th birthday – here’s why it’s worth the price tag


Some birthdays are bigger than others. And if you make it to the grand old age of 175, you’re entitled to pull out all the stops, so why not open a $20,000+ 750ml bottle of red? 
The story of the birth of Penfolds is well known in wine circles.

In 1844, at the property we now know as Magill Estate, Dr Christopher Penfold and his wife Mary planted some vine cuttings they had carried with them on their long voyage to Australia. Talk about from small acorns: those initial plantings, just 8km from the current Adelaide CBD, were the genesis of one of the biggest success stories in Australian wine history.
Yet despite this rich legacy, the brand is in no danger of living in the past.

Recently, Penfolds was voted The World’s Most Admired Wine Brand of 2019, the result of a poll of more than 200 of the world’s top Masters of Wine, sommeliers, commercial wine buyers, educators and journalists.
Clearly, the 175th anniversary called for a major celebration, so Penfolds Chief Winemaker Peter Gago and his team pulled together a roll-call of twelve of the greatest Penfolds red wines made, spanning six decades from 1962 through to the g3 released in 2017. Just 19 lucky souls were present for this extraordinary event, part of the Tasting Australia festival held in Adelaide in April.

At $1500+ per ticket, you would want this to knock your socks off, as indeed it did.
I rated no wine less than 95 points (a strong Gold medal on my scale ) and four wines looked as close to perfection as wine can be, namely:
A truly sublime bottle of the 1962 Bin 60A Cabernet Shiraz, a wine some critics consider the greatest Australian red wine ever made. ( a bottle with perfect provenance sold for $20K+ at last month’s Barossa Wine Auction ), 1990 Grange in full, pitch-perfect voice, 1996 Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet – which left me speechless with its combination of power, poise and complexity – and the g3, a Penfolds wine which many might be unfamiliar with.
Released in 2017 at $3000 per bottle, g3 is a cuvée of just 1200 bottles and is a blend of 2008, 2012 and 2014 Granges. While upon release there were some quibbles about the premium over the price of a ‘regular’ bottle of Grange, this bottle – number 1049 – of g3 would have silenced any naysayers with its effortless style, power and complexity. Will there be a g4? One can only hope, as well as a winning Lotto ticket to help fund the purchase.
At 175, Penfolds is looking in remarkably good nick, perhaps even better than ever. Dare we start thinking about the next ‘big’ anniversary, the 200th, in just 25 years’ time? Now that would be a tasting to add to your (wine) bucket list.
Full list of wines tasted:
1982 Bin 820 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz $150 approx
1990 Bin 920 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz. $340 approx
2008 Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz.  $1100 approx
1962 Bin 60A Coonawarra Cabernet Kalimna Shiraz $20000 plus (April 2019)
1967 Bin 7 Coonawarra Cabernet Kalimna Shiraz $2800 approx
1990 Bin 90A Coonawarra Cabernet Barossa Valley Shiraz $400 approx
2004 Bin 60A Coonawarra Cabernet Barossa Valley Shiraz $500 approx
1990 Bin 95 Grange $700 approx
1996 Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon $500 approx
2004 Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon $700 approx
2010 Bin 170  Kalimna Block 3C Shiraz $1600 approx

And Penfolds g3  $4000 approx

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