We have bourbon barrel-aged Chardonnay, and cold brew coffee-infused red wine. Now, Penfolds is bringing us baijiu-infused Shiraz. The new wine, Lot 518, is part of Penfolds’ Special Bottlings range that includes a single-batch brandy and a Champagne.
Baijiu is the most popular spirit in China. Often referred to as “firewater”, this white, grain-based liquor is quite potent, with up to 60% ABV. James Godfrey, Global Chief Fortified and Spirit Winemaker, selected baijiu as the fortifying spirit due to both the prominence of the spirit and a deep personal connection to Shanghai, China. Godfrey’s grandfather lived in Shanghai, and his father was born there. To craft the baijiu-Shiraz fusion, Godfrey met with multiple Chinese Baijiu producers to understand the spirit-making process.
What does a baijiu-infused Shiraz taste like? Think dark fruit with a fiery kick. You’ll still get the signature rich, dark fruit of a Barossa Valley Shiraz. However, the baijiu fortification raises the ABV to 21.5%, adding a warmth and intensity on the finish. The baijiu also adds a dimension of floral and aniseed to the wine.
According to Treasury Wine Estates’ Global Fortified and Spirit Winemaker James Godfrey, “This was a natural process: to revisit the past with a twist and reinvent a wine for today.”
After being an icon of Australian wine for decades, Penfolds is ready to take on the world. The baijiu-infused Shiraz is just one of many daring moves the winery announced recently via press release. In 2019, Penfolds will release a Champagne to celebrate its 175th anniversary, and by 2022, it aims to launch a line of Napa Valley wines.
Lot 518 will be available starting September 2018. Visit penfolds.com to learn more about their other special bottlings.
Photo credit: Penfolds