The History of Penfolds Magill Estate.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016 in News
Magill Estate, in the Adelaide suburb of the same name, is Penfolds’ spiritual home.
The original 200ha property was purchased by Dr Christopher Rawson Penfold and his wife Mary in 1844, just eight years after the colony of South Australia was founded.
Most of that 200ha has been swallowed up by Adelaide’s suburban growth. Today a little more than 5ha remains, including the heritage-listed but quite modest Grange Cottage, the original Penfold family home, built in 1845.
Magill is also home to the Magill Estate vineyard, a number of historic and fully operational bluestone winery buildings, and houses Penfolds’ Adelaide cellar door. The site – with two restaurants – is a popular destination both for locals and wine-aware visitors.
Magill Estate is one of few vineyards in the world located within the boundaries of a major city. Its legacy as the ‘Grange Vineyard’ ensures its place in Australian wine history.
Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz is a relatively recent phenomenon, developed in the early 1980s by then chief winemaker Don Ditter, working with his predecessor, Max Schubert, who remained a consultant to Penfolds after his retirement.
With the remainder of the property then still threatened by rezoning for housing, their objective was to secure the future of Magill Estate by creating Penfolds’ first single-vineyard red wine. It was to be an elegant, modern style of Shiraz that would contrast with the fuller-bodied, more concentrated style of Grange.
The first vintage was 1983 and Magill Estate Shiraz quickly secured its place in the Penfolds red wine hierarchy. Naturally, over 30 years, the style has evolved. Recent vintages are exciting wines that show great fruit ripeness, richness and complexity.
As The Age wine writer Jane Faulkner says, they are… ‘wines of great integrity but standing apart from the mainstream Penfolds style’.
Magill Estate Shiraz has received strong and consistent support in the secondary market, entering Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine in the late 1990s, soon after the tenth vintage appeared. It is currently ranked ‘Excellent’.
The vineyard is dry-grown and planted on fertile, red-brown earth over limestone. None of the original 1844 plantings have survived and today’s vineyard comprises three blocks replanted in 1951, 1967 and 1985.
Magill Estate Shiraz is made at Magill. It is vinified in open, wax-lined concrete tanks fitted with wooden header boards that keep the cap of skins submerged.
After completion of fermentation, the wine is matured in a combination of two-thirds new French and one-third new American oak for a period of 12 to 15 months.
It is a soft yet structured and substantial wine showing intense floral/ blackberry/ aniseed aromas, smooth richness and a ‘long spine without being overtly firm’.
Fine Wine Manager