Penfold’s, Australia’s most prestigious winemaker, is taking their esteemed Penfolds’ Re-corking Clinic on the road. To celebrate 25 years offering the exclusive service, they’ll be bringing clinics to New York City, Miami, Vancouver and Los Angeles this fall.
In case you’re not familiar with recorking, it’s an very precise process that involves much more than just changing out a cork! The rule of thumb, is that a wine over 30 years old is ready to be recorked. That means vintages form 1986 and earlier are good candidates. This is because around this age, wine corks start to deteriorate, losing their elasticity. This means the seal becomes less tight, air will begin to enter the bottle and some of the wine evaporates. This brings in further oxygen which, over time will degrade and at some point, turn your wine.
Recorking is an elaborate process that should only be done by a the pros like Penfolds or Chateau Lafite Rothschild. It begins with allowing sediment to settle, carefully cleaning the bottle as not to allow contamination, uncorking, adding nitrogen to protect the wine from oxidation and then inspecting it. They will determine if the wine is sound. If it’s not—the process ends there. That means you won’t get your wine back. As you can imagine, this is why working with only the top wine recorkers in the world is necessary.
If it is still good, they inspect the cork, replacing it with a new one and top off the wine with the same wine of the same vintage. Obviously, this isn’t as easy with rare, very old vintages. In these cases, the experts will match with similar wine of a different vintage as not to change the character of the wine. They will then add more nitrogen and a dose of sulfur dioxide to protect the wine and mark it as recorked. This can be done by laser etching the bottle with the date of the recorking or adding a sticker. At the Penfolds clinic, wine bottles will be certified and signed by Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Winemaker or Steve Lienert, Penfolds Senior Red Winemaker.
This little tune up extends the life of the bottle for potentially another 30 years if it is well stored. While it was once a common practice, it has become a rare and hard to find service. But if you’re interested, you’re in luck. The good people of Penfold’s are doing a North American tour of sorts. After hitting New York on October 21st, they’re heading to Miami for an October 25th appearance at the St. Regis Bal Harbour from 11am to 3pm. Appointments must be made in advance.
In addition to the wine assessment, a Clinic appointment allows the opportunity to meet with a Penfolds winemaker to recount the wine’s story, discuss drinking windows and cellaring recommendations. An optional valuation service will also be provided onsite by Christie’s Auction House.
Penfolds will bring their wine recorking clinic to Vancouver on Friday, October 28th and Los Angles on Wednesday, November 2nd. Only Penfolds red wines older than 15 years will be considered for inspection. To register, please visit Penfolds.com or email [email protected].