A Wine From Nowhere – The New York Times

These “enhancement techniques” were dishonest and fraudulent, as producers attempted to pass off their blends as Bordeaux or Burgundy.

Penfolds, of course, does no such thing. It is transparent in its marketing and its “Vin du Monde” labelling. And with suggested retail prices of $149 a bottle for the Bin 149 and $700 for the Quantum Bin 98, he places a premium value on those wines. He even enlisted the NBA star Ben Simmonswho plays for the Philadelphia 76ers but was born in Australia, as a celebrity.

In a sense, Penfolds sticks to its corporate philosophy. Although it produces wines from a single vineyard, such as its Magill Estate Shiraz, which conveys a sense of place, its flagship wine, Grange, is a blend of Shiraz from multiple vineyards in different geographies. It also sells for around $700 a bottle. Yattarna, its best chardonnay, which sells for around $120, is a blend from four different Australian states.

The art of blending, of blending different grapes from different sites, has long been an essential component of winemaking. Perhaps no place has made it a virtue like the great Champagne houses which, throughout the 20th century, downplayed the importance of the vineyard site and the terroir and instead celebrated the know-how of the master. de chai, which blended wines from different grape varieties grown in different locations and harvested in different vintages to create a seamless expression of the house style.

But even Champagne has caught the terroir bug. Over the past 20 years, the growing interest in small winemakers producing their own Champagne has galvanized careful consideration of Champagne terroirs. Even many of the larger houses that have emphasized blending have added single vineyard and village wines to their portfolios.

Nevertheless, some of the most prized Champagne brands, such as Dom Pérignon and Krug, persist in favoring the blending style.

Penfolds, as great Champagne producers once did, talks more about its house style and cellaring methods than about agriculture and the land of the vineyard.

Elisha A. Tilghman