Penley Estate Shiraz Cabernet 1998
Penley Estate is located in the center of Australia's most famous Cabernet region: Coonawarra. Continuing a family tradition that spans five generations, the winery was established in 1988 when the Tolley children continued the winemaking heritage of their pioneering families, Penfold and Tolley, both storied names in the Australian wine industry. In 1844, Mary Penfold defied stereotypes and was the driving force behind the establishment of McGill Estate. Similarly, from 1948-1961, Gladys Penfold Hyland was Penfold's Chairman of the Board. Their descendants, sisters Bec and Ang Tolley, run Penley Estate, proudly channeling the vim and might of their ancestors. Penley Estate's 240 acres of vineyards were planted atop Coonawarra's "terra rossa" soils with the aim of producing terroir-driven wines with distinctive regional character, and is now regarded as one of the region's leading Cabernet and Shiraz producers
Distinguished by a thin, subterranean band of crumbled, red clay loam, Coonawarra is a fairly flat, otherwise unobtrusive region with a cool Mediterranean climate, actually not dissimilar to Bordeaux.
In Coonawarra, this unique layer of red clay is called, "terra rossa" and gets its color from iron oxide. The terra rossa soil overlies soft, penetrable limestone, in a continuous area that is part of the Limestone Coast zone of South Australia. This uncommon layering of soils creates a substrate that is both well draining and at the same time, offers good water retention to support vine roots through dry summers.
Not surprisingly, Coonawara experiences great success with the Bordeaux varieties, namely Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but also Shiraz. However Cabernet reigns superior and accounts for half of the Coonawarra harvest each year. Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon develops powerful, yet polished tannins, ripe, red berry fruit and often sweet herb or dried mint qualities. The region has an increased focus on the individual expressions of single vineyards.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.