Vino: Penfolds from Australia

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: Penfolds
Grape: Shiraz
Region: Australia
Price: $5.99 to $350.00

There are two main winemaking styles: old world and new world. Old world winemakers are traditionalists in both the vineyard and cellar, using old techniques and believing completely in the concept of terroir, which is the sometimes disputed notion that soil can impart flavours on the wine that leave a sense of place.

New world winemakers, on the other hand, are on the cutting edge technologically and tend to favor grape varieties over soil characteristics. Australia is the undisputed leader in new world winemaking. Part of the marketing genius behind Australian wine popularity is their focus on grapes (Cabernet, Shiraz, Chardonnay) rather than place (Volnay, Chablis, Gigondas).

Penfolds is an Australian winery with a large selection of wine to choose from. Their ultra premium Grange is considered to be one of the most famous (and expensive) wines in the world, however we can buy a bottle of their Koonunga Hill Shiraz for less than ten dollars.

My challenge to you this week is to find a bottle of Penfolds Shiraz (Shiraz is Australian for Syrah), in one of their varying price points, and tell us what you think. I’ve scouted the city and their Shiraz is everywhere.

If you are feeling adventurous, ask your local wine shop for a good example of old world Syrah to compare. I am romantic by nature, and love the history woven into ancient practices. Modern wines tend to be manipulated: oak, acid and sugar are regularly added in extract form rather than letting barrels, weather or time create the wine naturally.

Although savvy in terms of time and expense, the end result tastes different. Research, analysis and technology make modern wines technically perfect. With all this perfection, I have to wonder if the flaws in old world winemaking are part of the tapestry that makes the wine beautiful?

We invite you to do your own side-by-side tasting, and be sure to let us know what you think.