The Almighty 707 – My Penfolds Number Story

Penfolds is a brand with legendary status in both Australia, and around the world, most notably from their flagship red, Grange. However it’s The Penfolds Collection that has become the backbone of their operation and helped them earn accolades like ‘Australian Wine Producer of the Year’ in 2014 by the IWSC. Critic James Halliday wrote: “There is no other single winery brand in the New, or the Old World, with the depth and breadth of Penfolds.” A monumental statement from one of the most respected critics in the world.

We were recently asked to participate in the Penfolds ‘Number’s can be extraordinary’ campaign bringing to light the quality of Penfolds comparatively lesser known wines. From the time honoured Barossa classic that is the 2012 Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz, to two of our countries greatest value offerings, the 2013 Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz and 2013 Bin 138 Shiraz Grenache Mataro, it’s a range that boasts consistently excellent winemaking. Capping it off is the iconic 2012 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, or ‘Baby Grange’ as it’s affectionately referred to by its loyal fans, a drop that has shaped the Australian red wine drinker’s palate, combining the backbone and structure of Cabernet Sauvignon coupled with the power, intensity and hedonistic fruit characters of Shiraz.

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I’ve had some fabulous encounters with The Penfolds Collection over the years and was more than happy to share my greatest wine story to date, which just so happens to feature The Penfolds Collection – a Penfolds 1987 Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon to be exact. Gather round chaps.

I can’t recall the exact time this bottle appeared on my best mates chest of draws in his bedroom at his parent’s house, but I’m going to say his 21st birthday (hence the 1987 vintage and year of his birth). Pete was living in Canberra and then went on exchange to Austria, then went to live in England, and for years this bottle stood upright, among some photo frames and tobacco tins we used to collect, in a room that was centrally heated and cooled and copped more natural sunlight than most. Why it wasn’t moved downstairs to his father’s temperature controlled cellar was beyond me. I went to his sister’s engagement party while he was overseas, got some wine knocked on me and went upstairs to fetch a shirt from his room, and there it was still sitting there, years after it had appeared, baking in the afternoon sun, collecting dust.

When he finally returned from England we moved into a house in Surry Hills with some friends and the day we were moving he grabbed the bottle and threw it into a clothes basket. I specifically recall laughing about it and conversing about how it’d surely be a bottle of vinegar by now. It sat in his room in Surry Hills for another 18 months while we drank everything around it, saving it for that special occasion. About a month after moving out of the house in Surry Hills, towards the end of last year, I ended up in the back of the car kicking my foot at something under the seat, sure enough it was said bottle, lost in the move.

When our friend proposed a weekend at his mother’s delightful Palm Beach house, and for Pete and I to bring some wine, we decided we best celebrate the occasion with this rouge bottle. With a shopping bag full of Victor Churchill’s finest, a view of Pittwater and a handful of our closest mates, it seemed like the right time to pop the cork. When we arrived at the house we lined up our offerings for the evening, a Bollinger, a Billiecart, some organic whites, a Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz,a Penfolds St Henri Shiraz, a Wendouree Cab Malbec, a Taylors vintage port, and of course, the rouge Penfolds 1987 Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon. I was so convinced the wine was passed it, retelling tales of its unconventional history to the group. We got stuck in, drinking through the Champagne, the whites and reds before landing on the Wendouree and the main event, which we’d opened about an hour earlier.

Amazing wines

The anticipation to taste it, and finally confirm how badly my friend had treated it for so long, was killing me. We decanted it, and poured five glasses, and one by one took a sip. What unfolded next was magical, five adult men cheering and hugging, fist pumps and tears of happiness, laughing hysterically at how unbelievable this bottle was. The chat that was getting thrown around was second to none, “the greatest wine I’ve ever tasted”, “simply sensational”, “yuck pour that Wendouree down the sink (it too was delicious)”, it was hilarious. How this bottle of wine had defied all odds and been drinkable, let alone absolutely outstanding, was a miracle, we just could not believe it. As a group of friends we reference that bottle of wine more than any other we’ve ever had, we’ll probably never stop doing so.

Penfolds is a brand steeped in history with over 170 years of experience, a testament to the quality of the wine and the brand’s winemaking philosophy. For so many of us, these epic wines help shape our fondest memories, be it a casual dinner with friends or a formal celebration, and Penfolds is inviting you to share a number, story and image that represents your Penfolds experience via social media featuring #Penfolds and #MyPenfoldsNumber.

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James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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