The Doctor Is In

The Doctor Is In

Penfolds is back with another round of its much-awaited Re-corking Clinics in Singapore.

Australian winemaker Penfolds piqued the interest of wine connoisseurs and collectors in Singapore late last year, when the internationally respected brand held another round of its famed Re-corking Clinics in the country. Over the years, Penfolds’ Re-corking Clinics have accessed and assessed more than 150,000 bottles from collectors all over the world. First started in 1991, the clinics offer a distinct and thorough wine health examination.

At the Penfolds’ Re-corking Clinic 2017 in Singapore, Penfolds Chief Winemaker Peter Gago and Penfolds Senior Red Winemaker Stephanie Dutton helmed the event and provided their guides to assess the local collectors’ prized collections, including sharing the history and personality of each Penfolds wine present, providing a one-on-one session to share valuable tips on cellaring, wine care and peak drinking windows. We got to sit down with both respected winemakers to hear their thoughts about the event.

E: Are you excited about the clinic this year?

Peter: It’s been 26 years! It’s getting bigger and bigger, and definitely more interesting. The clinics have been going on for generations and I feel so old! If you think that 26 years ago the collectors brought their children – who were one or two years old, the children are now 27 or 28, building their own collections. Some of these collections are being handed across, and a lot of these lines that do come to the clinics are actually family heirlooms.

Peter Gago

E: How do you select the wines for the re-corking?

P: Well, it’s the prerogative of the owner. If a wine came in at a low fill-level and it’s 25 years old, we would advise the owner to leave it alone – why would you re-cork that? If you’re going to drink it next week or next year, no problem. But if you’re going to keep it for another 25 tears, you probably should have it re-corked. Furthermore, to qualify for re-corking, the wines have to be 15 years old or older. And it’s not just Grange, but any Penfolds great wine is eligible as long as it’s at least 15 years old. In some parts of the world, we do the clinics in conjunction with Christie’s, Sotheby’s, or Langton’s, so they keep an eye on preserving as well. If the wine isn’t as it should be, it is not certified, so it takes the value down. But it’s not about the value, for most people it’s about drinking, protecting their drink investment.

E: Can you elaborate more about the clinic?

Stephanie: In Australia we host the clinics at five of the largest capital cities every second year, and we also have a couple of international ones every year in different locations, depending on where the higher demand is and where our collectors are. The purpose is for a couple of different reasons. The first and most important is to offer the ultimate after-sales service. We have crafted and sold to our collectors, and wine that can last for 15 years in outstanding vintages generally needs some service and update. It’s like when you have a car or a watch – whatever it is that can go for decades. We want to offer a health check or a service. A couple of other things that we get out of the whole process, we are improving the secondary market. So, all of the wines that have been sold, sold again on the secondary market through auctions, we’re waiting for the ones that should be there, that hadn’t had the right cellar conditions. And we’re selecting the ones that deserve to be there. We are also helping and educating collectors about what should be drunk, what should be kept, what needs attention and what doesn’t. Of course, we help with authentication as well.

Stephanie Dutton

E: What do you think of this year’s collection, and do you have any favourite from this year or the last?

S: There are a lot of wines in the collection, I would love to say that I buy every single one every single year on release, but my salary doesn’t allow it, so I have to be more selective on that. I do have favourites each year, there’s one that I purchase every single year, it’s been the 389. It’s a wine that has had more than five consecutive releases, and it’s got the pedigree and track record.