Care and Enjoyment
Cellaring and Service
Penfolds believes that the cellaring and service of fine wine should be an enjoyable experience for everyone. While there is a marvellous tradition and culture that embraces fine wine some of the ideas and practices may seem antiquated or intimidating, especially to new comers. Penfolds wines appeal to a wide market from the deadly serious wine collector to the casual wine drinker. Not everyone is interested in building up a wine cellar. However there are a few basic guidelines that could be followed to maximise your wine experience.
Store your wine in a cool place
While many Penfolds wines will benefit from further bottle aging, not all wines within the range are made for long term cellaring. Rawsons Retreat, Thomas Hyland, Organic and Koonunga Hill ranges are generally made as fresh early drinking wines. Only very special unique vintages may have any cellaring potential. Generally these wines are relatively inexpensive (depending on taxes and duties). Most buyers will consume these wines soon after purchase. Older bottles lying on shelves for several years may not have their original freshness. White wines are especially vulnerable to fluctuations in heat. It is best to avoid old vintages of commercial wine unless it has been kept at home or you know where the wine has been stored.
Most of Penfolds bin, luxury and icon wines will benefit from cellaring. The optimum bottle maturation period will depend on whether the wine is red or white, its style and vintage. The Rewards of Patience provides detailed tasting notes and commentary regarding the cellaring potential of each wine. It should be noted that reds generally have a longer and reliable cellaring history. The changeover to screwcap closures (see chapter..) has had an immediate impact on maintaining freshness and quality of wine especially whites.
Wine collectors have the option of cellaring their wine at home or in public storage. The commercialisation of wine storage cabinets (wine fridges) is an exciting development especially in warmer climes. They have become a very economic and practical way of keeping wine especially in high density living areas. These cabinets are made to optimum cellaring specifications. Generally the ideal cellar temperature is a constant of around 14 °C to 16 °C with a relative humidity of 65-75%. These conditions are difficult to achieve naturally all year round. Some collectors have had their cellars made to these specifications using refrigeration rather than air-conditioning.
Air-conditioned cellars are a preferred option by some collectors. Temperatures – however - cannot be brought down below 17°C and wines can suffer from the ambient long term dryness. Corks can crumble in this environment. There are a number of incidents where air-conditioners have kicked into reverse cycle causing irrevocable heat damage. Notwithstanding these anecdotes, this option has worked extremely well in Australia – especially when buckets filled with water are placed nearby.
Public storage is a good option but can be expensive – especially if the purpose of maturation is wine investment. Asides from optimum cellaring conditions, insurance companies often prefer the detailed records and security advantage these storage companies provide.
The key issues are keep your wine in a cool secure place and avoid temperature variation. A constant temperature of 18°C is better than 14°C to 26°C over a year. The cellaring conditions need to be dark, free from vibrations and light.
Always lay bottles on their side
Bottles should be stored on their sides to ensure the cork remains wet. Corks can dry out if a bottle is left standing up; it will lead to ingression of air and oxidation. Screwcapped bottles are more resilient but its best to have these bottles lying down as well. If a bottle is damaged you will identify leaking earlier.
There is no need to turn the bottles. Believe it or not there are a dwindling number of collectors who have religiously followed this practice for years in the belief that it further protects the wine from leakage. It is always a good thing – however – to check bottles for any cork movement. It is not unusual to find “leakers” even in the best cellars.
Own a half decent corkscrew
The great thing about screw caps is that you don’t have to bother with a corkscrew. This is very useful when you need to open a bottle of wine and you are miles away from town. Unfortunately the “missing corkscrew” is also a general household phenomena. While a piece of string and a knot is the last resort, a half decent corkscrew is an essential tool for opening up bottles of wine. At the Penfolds Red Wine Clinics we use the long barrelled standard table model Screwpull © corkscrew. This has a Teflon-coated wire screw and a rigid frame which guides the screw into the centre of the cork and pulls it out automatically. We have also developed a method of getting really old corks out of the bottle by using two of these wire corkscrews. You can spend huge amounts of money on beautiful corkscrews but the simple “waiters friend” will do the job most of the time.
How to serve
White wines are best served at cool refrigerated temperatures. However if the wine is too cold you will find that it will deaden aromas and flavours. Red wine is best served at comfortable room temperature of around 18°C - 24°C. In Australia we sometimes cool the wine down a touch if it’s a hot day.
How to decant
Serving fine wine is can be something of a ceremony. It’s always best to bring red wine out of the cellar a good six to eight hours (or a day or two) prior to service. Let the bottle stand to allow the wine sediment to settle.
The world is divided into two types of fine wine people; those that like to decant and those that don’t. The purpose of decanting is to take wine off its fine film of sediment. At Penfolds we encourage the use of decanters because it creates a sense of occasion and suits our wines; especially old bottles of Grange, Bin 707 , St Henri, Magill Estate and Bin 389.
At Penfolds we often use the method of double-decanting especially for large wine dinners. Many wine collectors also double-decant for the sake of ease and identification of bottles on the table during a meal.
Unscrew the cap or pull out the cork. Pour the wine carefully and steadily into a clean jug or another bottle. Some people like using a funnel. Keep observing the wine through the neck and shoulder of the bottle. The wine will be crystal clear until the very end when sediment will appear. At this point stop pouring. Some people will use a candle or a torch while decanting. However it can be just as easy with bright room or day light. Rinse out the original bottle with water and then decant back.
You can decant white wine, but usually this is an issue of personal preference. At Penfolds we often decant Yattarna and old vintages of Riesling as we feel the wines benefit from the aeration. We don’t recommend decanting Penfolds Rawsons’s Retreat, Thomas Hyland or Koonunga Hill wines.
A warning about Wine Glasses
There are several wine glasses available on the market. The style and shape is very much a personal thing. Some glass manufacturers suggest that “the shape is responsible for the quality and the intensity of the bouquet and the flow of the wine.” Penfolds prefers simple but decent-sized stemmed clear cut glasses. However sometimes it is a question of what is available at the time. The poor storage of glasses is actually a problem that is rarely written about. If wine glasses are not regularly used they can collect a fine dust and attract ambient odours and taints. If the glass is not washed out thoroughly prior to filling it can actually overpower the wine and create a completely wrong impression. Wooden glass and antique cabinets are the worst offenders. Washing machines can also leave a film of detergent. If the glasses are not properly dried, they can pick up the odours very quickly. Penfolds recommends that you wash and polish glasses prior to use unless you are sure of how the glasses are stored.
Smell and taste before you enjoy
The practice of smelling and tasting wine before dinner or at a restaurant is a very practical tradition. It gives you an opportunity to check the wine is sound and free of fault before serving. The incidence of cork taint is – thankfully – on the decline. If the wine smells musty or like wet Hessian and tastes horrible it’s probably corked. Or it’s a poorly stored glass. If it smells flat or stale it’s probably oxidised. Sometimes odours will blow off. However if you are unsure, you should ask your sommelier to check the wine for you. If there’s no one else around for second opinion ask yourself “am I happy to drink this?” Penfolds does everything it can to make sure the wine arrives at your table in perfect condition. It is one of the reasons it has a long track record and reputation as one of the world’s greatest wine producers.
Source; “Care and Enjoyment - Cellaring and Service”
Penfolds “The Rewards of Patience” 6th edition,
Andrew Caillard, MW (Allen & Unwin, 2009)
Christmas - A Moveable Feast
Langton's Launches the Inaugural Annual Review
Spirit of the 1998 GH Mumm Cuvée R. Lalou
The Scenic Route to Tuscan Shiraz
Langton's Warehouse in Hopper's Crossing Now Open!
Savour Australia – An Insight into Global Wine Market Trends
Institute of the Masters of Wine - Diamond Jubilee
A Chinese Takeover of France?
Interim 3rd Quarter Market Report 2013
Key News - September 2013
Grosset's Transition to Certified Organic
Langton's New City Hubs Now Open!
Langton's Classification Fine Wine Live Auction
Red Obsession - A Must See Movie
Langton’s moves into an exciting new phase
The rarified atmosphere of VINEXPO
Flip Sides: Wine and Money (Part 1)
Peter Lehmann - A Tribute
Globalization 2: When Local Becomes Global (Part 1)
A Perfect Partner for Penfolds
NOW OPEN PENFOLDS AUCTION
Penfolds White Winemaking Overview
Dr Ray Beckwith OAM - a Tribute
The Emergin Wine Scene in Finland
For the love of Chestnuts
2012 En Primeur: Sauternes & Barsac Tasting Notes
Langton's Classification V Set
Len Evans Foundation Auction
Behind Bindi: The Life of a Winemaker
Champagne –all about marketing or worth the hype?
London Launch of Burgundies 2011
The State of New Zealand Pinot Noir
Beauty and Balance the Razor's Edge
Yalumba Tasting – Aussie Rules
Hospices de Beaune Auction 2012
Langton's Classification Auction 2012
Hill of Grace 50th Anniversary Lunch
History of Langton's Classification
Melbourne Private Cellar - An Extraordinary Auction
The Future of the Australian Wine Show System
The Jura's famous yellow wine
Clonakilla - A special Shiraz Viognier Tasting
Key News - September 2012
October Langton's Cellar Club
Single Vendor Flood Damaged Auction
Robert Parker & Jancis Robinson MW
A great Burgundian domaine restored
Seppelt Para Liqueur Vintage Tawny Collection - Special Auction
Vega-Sicilia - A special Single Vendor Auction
Opera Australia Christmas Auction
Out of the Blue Comes a Farm
The competitive Mr. Basset OBE, MW, Best Sommelier in the World
Uncorking Penfolds Clinic
Fruit of the Forest: Wild Fungi
Innovation and Experimentation
The Risk Taking Wine Psychologist
Sydney Single Vendor Auction
Hill of Grace 50th Anniversary Lunch
Australia's Top 100 Auction Wines for 2011
Grenache Day Blogger's Breakfast
A French Sleeping Beauty Awakes
Black Blue & Grey-Wolf Blass Luxury Release
An Enviable Inharitance - Olivier Leflaive
Key News - December Edition
The China Syndrome: Shanghai International Wine Challenge 2011
Christmas and another great vintage in Alsace
Down in the Woods: Franciacorta and Ca' del Bosco
Foie gras and sweet wine in the Loire
Key News - October Edition
Bordeaux Masterclass & Dinner
Invisible Touch: Benchmark Chardonnay & Pinot Noir
Key News - September Edition
The Unsung Heros of the French Wine Harvest
It's only Natural: Torbreck Natural Wine Project
On Organics, Biodynamics and Sustainable Viticulture
Key News - March 2011 Edition
Langtons is now on Twitter & Facebook
The Nine Network: Burgundy 2009
Key News -February 2011 Edition
2007 Hospices de Beaune Review
Penfolds Rewards of Patience - Decant Guide
The Drinks Interval: Wine & Cricket
Last outpost of the Bristish Empire
Trevor Mast Charity Auction
Shipping for the Festive Season 2010
Keys News - November Edition
From Northern Ireland to New Zealand: Te Mata Coleraine 2006-1991
Charity Lot - 123 Classified Wines
BUY CLASSIFICATION POSTER
Variations on a Theme: Coonawarra Reds 2006-1982
Key News -October Edition
Key News - September Edition
Flaming Ferrari: Yalumba the Signature and Single Site New Releases
Classification V - Coming Soon!
Key News - August Edition
Blood, Sweat & Tears: Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz 1987-2006
Bordeaux 2009 Reflections
A Perfect Ten? Bordeaux 2000 reassessed 10 years on
2005 Grange: Where do the Grapes come from?
Is it a Bird? A Plane? It's 707!
Meet the Winemakers Behind Today's Penfolds Great Reds
Bin Files: Penfolds 389 vs Grange
Treasured Bottles - Yarra Yering
The Evolution of New Zealand Pinot Noir
SINGLE VENDOR AUCTION DEC 2009
Opera Australia Christmas 2009 Auction
Classic Wines of Australia 1961-1970
Parker Review - Tuscany 2006 & 2007
French wine remains the worlds reference point
PINOSOPHY – Brian Croser’s Pinot Noir Manifesto
Penfolds Primary Reds Rise Above Stock Market Blues.
Langton’s Top 500 Australian Wine Prices 2007
The Great Wine Estates of Western Australia “2007 En-Primeur Campaign”
147 Vente Des Vins - Des Hospices de Beaune
LANGTON’S Classic PENFOLDS Wine Auction
Jasper Hill – The life and works of Ron and Elva Laughton
McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon – Hunter Valley
Robert Parker Jr.’s top 180 Wines of the 2006 Vintage + Andrew Caillard's Bordeaux Impressions
Opening Gambit - Andrew Caillard MW en route to Bordeaux
Heritage & Evolution: A Tasting
Certainty! The Claret Drinker's Song
Wine Investment – Swim between the flags
Penfolds Classified Wines
Classic Penfolds Wine Auction
The Siren’s Song – Bass Phillip
Exchange Current Listings
Andrew Caillard MW reviews Bordeaux 2005
Bordeaux 2005 – Does it get any better than this? What the international reviewers are saying
Nicky Riemer – the new Head Chef at Langton’s Restaurant
Langton's Exchange in 2006
Langton’s 2005 Classification IV – International Reception, Predictions and Tastings
Langton’s 2005 Classification IV – International Reception, Predictions and Tastings
LANGTON’S EXCHANGE – BUY NOW and SAVE 15%
Great Wines Estates of WA Live Auction (V) – Open for Bidding Online October 21 to November 12
Langton’s 2005 Classification IV
2005 Classification in Gourmet Traveller WINE
Bordeaux 2004 – A Classic Vintage
Penfolds Grange Auction – Now Open
MCWILLIAMS Celebrity Blend-Off for Charity Wine Auction
Grange Auction Open for Bidding
LANGTON’S EXCHANGE – BUY NOW!
1998: Vintage of the Century
A Vertical Tasting of De Bortoli Noble One
The Story of Grange by Max Schubert (1915–1994)
Penfolds Grange Auction June 13 - July 14, 2003
A Lazy Eye on Pink Cliffs & One Eye
Henschke Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone
Selling at Langton’s in 2003
Australian Wine Exchange offers Giaconda Chardonnay
Large Format Grange Sets Records
The Sensational 2002 Central Otago Pinot Noir Vintage
Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration and Barrel Auction
The John (Jack) W Henderson Collection - Auction Closes February 3, 6pm
Shiraz Australia II Auction
Seppelt Para 100 Year Old Liqueur Vintage Tawny Barossa Valley - Vintages 1878-1903