Wines from outside Europe are often called New World wines. Penfolds, one of Australia’s premier wineries, is doubling down on being New World with its new California Collection, half of which consists of blends of cabernet sauvignon and shiraz (syrah) from California and Australia. Penfolds has been interested in California since the 1980s, and after considerable experimentation, it is now releasing four wines made mainly from grapes grown there, some from Australian cuttings it planted, blended with Penfolds fruit from Australia. The California varietals dominate. The powerful and complex top-of-the-line, Quantum Bin 98 cabernet sauvignon ($700 a bottle), which deserves cellaring, and the somewhat earthier and fruitier Bin 149 cabernet sauvignon ($149), both blends that include Australian wine, are labeled Wines of the World. There is also Bin 704 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, which is all California ($70) absent sweetness or oaky swagger, but with a whiff of Napa Valley-style eucalyptus as it opens up. Bin 600 California cabernet-shiraz ($50) is the lightest, yet forceful and ready to drink. These wines, all 2018, all have a consistent bold, muscular character, with well-knit fruit, structure and acidity, described as the “house style” by Peter Gago, the winemaker. Each wine’s alcohol content is around 14.5 percent.
Penfolds California Collection 2021, sold starting March 4, penfolds.com.