It may seem like an unlikely meeting of the Old and New World, but as Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago affirmed guests at the global launch of this first-of-its-kind initiative in Paris last night, the historic partnership between the Australian wine giant and family-owned Champagne House Thiénot was “the most natural thing”. “We hardly ever argue,” he quipped.
What started as a thought during a conversation between Gago and Thiénot managing director Stanislas Thiénot a few years ago quickly grew into a serious discussion about plans to make this unique meeting of minds and passion a reality. At that time, Thiénot was helping Penfolds with the distribution of their wines in France. Almost four years later, the two wineries are in Paris announcing their collaboration with the launch of three champagnes from a particularly stunning vintage.
Champagne lovers and pundits were noticeably astounded. “If we tried to do this 30 or even 10 years ago, people would just laugh,” Gago told T.Dining just before the official reveal at The Ritz Paris. “You’ve got a new Old World winery, very forward thinking, strategic and entrepreneurial, and a New World winery of age coming together very naturally.”
“We are a young champagne house created by my father in 1985,” Thiénot explains, adding that while there were many disadvantages in being a young winery, the upside was that they “were not prisoners of their past”. Starting from scratch, he continues, they experimented with various vintage cuvee but always with a focus on quality rather than quantity.