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The first three bottlings released under the special Thiénot x Penfolds label are made with wines produced from the outstanding 2012 vintage. The range includes a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as two single-vineyard wines from grand cru villages: a Blanc de Blancs from Avize, and a Blanc de Noirs from Aÿ
Nicolas Uriel, Thiénot’s chef de cave, collaborated closely with Gago to create Champagnes expressing, in the words of Gago, ‘their differences while sharing the collective interpretation by Thiénot and Penfolds.’
The trio has slightly lower levels of dosage than those usually chosen by Maison Thiénot and, to strengthen the cross-hemisphere tie, they use a liqueur d’expédition elaborated in barriques initially used for Penfolds’ flagship Yattarna Chardonnay.
Malolactic fermentation is deliberately avoided to retain freshness, and Uriel explains that they ‘chose to lower the amount of dosage and not use barrel-ageing so as to enhance the terroir transparency of these Champagnes, while benefitting from Peter Gago’s blending expertise for fine-tuning the style we wanted.’
These Champagnes will be distributed by Penfolds around the world except for France, where it will be in the hands of the Thiénot group.
Lower-than-average yields in Australia, as across much of Europe. This was blamed on high winds, drought and low fruitfulness resulting from the poor 2011 vintage. Quality, however, was much better than in the exceptionally damp 2011, with South Australia avoiding some of the weather extremes experienced by other states. Strong varietal typicality is a commonly cited feature of the 2012 crop.