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Friday 17 July 2015

All white on the night: Penfolds' victory turns perceptions on their head

Penfolds, established in 1844, is a winery inextricably linked with quality red wines. 

From Grange to Bin 707, RWT and St Henri, right down to the reliably good Koonunga Hill range, the Penfolds reputation for quality has been based on red wines, many of them made from shiraz. 

The Penfolds winemaking team
But Penfolds has just been named as International White Winemaker of the year by the International Wine Challenge (IWC) in London, an award you have to think would have surprised even the Treasury Wine Estates hierarchy.

Not that Penfolds do not make some outstanding white wines, including the iconic Yattarna chardonnay, but those whites have always been overshadowed by a massive portfolio of quality reds. 

The award was collected on behalf of the Penfolds team by senior white winemaker Kym Schroeter at the IWC awards dinner in London. 

Having joined Penfolds back in 1987, baby-faced Kym boasts over a quarter of a century of Penfolds winemaking experience. His willingness to look to Tasmania and other regions outside Penfolds' South Australian heartland for fruit must have played a key role in the award. 
Kym Schroeter

“The Penfolds team is truly honoured to receive such a prestigious award from the IWC," Schroeter said. "Being recognised as the best international white winemaker serves to demonstrate Penfolds ability to consistently craft white wines of the highest quality across a range of regions and varietals.” 

Gold medals were awarded to three vintages from its Reserve Bin Chardonnay range, including: Reserve Bin 12A Chardonnay 2012, Reserve Bin 10A Chardonnay 2010 and Reserve Bin 09A Chardonnay 2009. It also struck gold with Yattarna Chardonnay 2010 - while just two Penfolds red wines also received gold medals; Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2012 and Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. Penfolds Grandfather Rare Tawny collected a gold medal in the fortified category. 

Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago said: "The Penfolds winemaking team is delighted with this award from IWC which recognises our portfolio of white wines. Kym has done a terrific job in continuing the Penfolds tradition of innovation and pushing forwards the development of the white wine portfolio. It’s an exciting time for Australian white wines, particularly chardonnay, a variety now enjoying a new phase of seriousness, drinkability and durability.”

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