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Penfolds Aevum: The Proper Way To Decant And Serve Wine

Turning the art of the wine decanting on its head.

If you thought the act of decanting wine couldn’t get any more luxurious, Australian winemaker Penfolds asks that you think again. The new-world winemaker is shaking things up with a little assist from another heritage brand.

But this isn’t just another try at outshining its competitors, Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago says that it was just an evolution of something that Penfolds has already been doing: “Everything we do is about wine, ceremony and theatre. We don’t just decant, we double decant. Even when decanting, it’s almost like a science with very specific timings so that the wines are served at just the right time.”

Which is why the wine company’s latest release is more than just its usual yearly Grange announcement — it comes with a little bit more oomph. Created in partnership with heritage crystal makers Saint-Louis, the Penfolds Aevum Imperial Service Ritual and the Penfolds Aevum Crystal Decanter are bringing glamour back to the act of pouring from a bottle.

On why Penfolds chose to work with a French crystal maker, Gago says: “Saint-Louis is a completely different proposition. It exists in a different space. This [decanter] is in line with both our philosophies. What Saint-Louis does is stuff such as chandeliers that are ultra-different and new, but, at the same time, it is a very traditional company. At Penfolds, we do the traditional, time-honoured styles of wine and some very cutting-edge new styles as well.”

Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago: "Everything we do is about wine, ceremony and theatre."

The Penfolds Aevum Imperial Service Ritual comes with a six-litre bottle of the 2012 Penfolds Grange Bin 95, which was recently award 100 points. Priced at US$185,000, the roughly 3ft tall decanter comes with a pivoting mechanism that makes pouring wine from the six-litre bottle a cinch. This is the first time the winemaker has produced wines in the Imperial format and Penfolds states that there will only be six bottles of the 2012 Grange vintage, which will only be sold together with the Penfolds Aevum Imperial Service Ritual.

If you’re on the market for something a little more traditional but no less fancy, the Penfolds Aevum Crystal is a good bet. The crystal by Saint-Louis is accompanied by a more traditionally sized bottle of the 2012 Grange. It is available for US$2,100 from select retailers.

But a great wine decanter is incomplete without a great wine and the the 2012 Grange more than delivers. Gago had this to say about the precious liquid: “Sometimes tasting notes such as these are difficult to articulate. Not this time. Channelling the 2010 Grange - an unfolding kaleidoscopic vinous mosaic of charm, allure, character and cerebral reward. Complete. Stylistically, most closely aligned to the 1963 Grange and yet stridently extolling its own personality.”

On this issue of the quality of Australian wine, Gago says: “Some people see the wine world as Australia versus France. I say, no. In this case, this is Australia and France. This is a combination of the new world and old world. It’s a lot easier now to talk about wines, vineyards, varieties and style, rather than France versus Australia or America versus Germany. There will always be Francophiles, which we’ll never be able to sway. There will always be those biases and stylistic preferences.”

The highly-celebrated winemaker recently held a dinner in celebration of the launch of the Penfolds Collection 2016. Held at the Grand Hyatt Singapore on 15 November 2016, guests were treated to a five-course dinner paired with eight of Penfolds’ most decorated wines. Some of the wines that were served at the dinner include the 2015 Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay, which was recently named the best chardonnay in Australia; Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay; 2014 Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon; and 2013 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz Bin 407. But the main attraction of the night was the 2012 Penfolds Grange Bin 95 made from 98 percent Shiraz and 2 percent Cabernet Sauvignon. The dinner was attended by Penfolds Chief winemaker Peter Gago and Penfolds Winemaking ambassador Patrick Dowling.

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