First Time Penfolds Has Launched Special Bin Wine Outside Native Australia
With China becoming an increasingly critical market for Australian winemakers, who are hoping to chip away at the dominance of France in China’s imported wine market, overtures from wineries down under are becoming increasingly bold. Today, for the first time in the winery’s 167-year history, Penfolds launched one of its rare Special Bin wines outside of Australia, choosing Shanghai’s Waldorf Astoria to debut its Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz 2008. From Decanter:
Penfolds only releases its Special Bin wines – first released in the early 1950s during a time of research and experimentation – from exceptional vintages.
The last time Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz was produced was the 1966 vintage, under the auspices of Max Schubert, the originator of Grange. It was partially foot-crushed and fermented at Magill Estate, outside Adelaide.
Of the 2008 vintage, Gago said, ‘Coonawarra was blessed with a great vintage when the earlier-ripening Shiraz could be blended with the later-ripening Cabernet to highlight the best of both varieties, and their synergistic union.
As Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago said of the launch of Bin 620 this week, “This signifies the importance of China to Penfolds.” Beyond that, we’d say the gesture underlines the importance of China to Australian wine in general. According to WineBiz, China is currently Australia’s fourth-largest wine export market, with Aussie winemakers shipping some 55 million liters of wine to thirsty Chinese drinkers in 2010, a 36 percent rise over 2009. As the Wall Street Journal recently noted, Australia already has 20 percent market share of the Chinese imported wine market, trailing only France (40 percent), and currently, China is Australia’s largest market for wines that are sold at over US$10. Look for the popularity of Australian wine to continue growing in China, particularly among “new” middle-class drinkers; As Jing Daily wrote last month:
While Australian wines may never reach the same status or prestige as their French counterparts, their aggressive pricing, relative fruitiness and accessibility makes them, and will continue to make them, great entry-level imported wines for Chinese drinkers.