Don't blow your top

Leading Australian winemaker showcases the unique art and science of re-corking wine

Penfolds, the established Australian winemaker brand, recently sent its high calibre team led by chief winemaker Peter Gago on a mission to quality check Penfolds wines aged 15 years and older with the brand's Re-corking Clinic.

Penfolds team lead by chief winemaker Peter Gago, second left, red winemakers Adam Clay, left, and Andrew Baldwin, right, with Stella Chan from Acker Merrall & Condit at the Penfolds Re-corking Clinic in Singapore.

"This complimentary after-sales service is the only one of its kind in the world that allows wine lovers to taste the rewards of their patience with Penfolds red wines aged 15 years and older. It is called a clinic because we also do a health check on the vintage collection submitted for re-corking," said Peter Gago, the chief winemaker who, apart from making wine, also travels throughout Australia and around the world conducting these exclusive sessions.

For more than 20 years, the Penfolds Re-corking Clinics have provided collectors with the opportunity to visually inspect their wine, open, assess quality, top up, certify and re-cap bottles.

"Penfolds customers come from everywhere for the clinic," said Gago. "They are millionaires, wine collectors, regular folk and children who have inherited the precious bottles from their forebears. Some are travelling with custom-made luggage bringing along their large collections for re-corking.

Injecting with gas (70% nitrogen and 30% carbon dioxide). Gas is heavier than air and will push out the air, mimicking a cork’s effect for a short time.

"We are excited to return to Singapore, as no two clinics have been alike, no two stories the same, and it is nice to catch up with old friends, make new ones and advise collectors about their prized collections," said Gago. "Via these clinics we can also confirm that even in warmer climates such as Singapore, our wines can be still be kept perfectly sound, and will cellar well when stored in the right conditions."

Held at St. Regis in Singapore and hosted by a team of four Penfolds winemakers including Peter Gago, the clinic saw a record-breaking 540 bottles of Penfolds wines registered for re-corking, including rare collections such as a complete collection of Grange from 1951 to 1998, which is the youngest vintage eligible for re-corking.

More than 200 bottles were opened and re-corked at the clinic as collectors enjoyed valuable one-on-one time with visiting Penfolds winemakers, learning about the history and personality of their wines along with invaluable tips on cellaring, care and peak drinking windows for the wines in their collections.

"The re-corking process is highly technical and specialised. It guarantees and certifies Penfolds wines for quality, ensuring attendees leave the clinic with their re-corked collection in an excellent condition, ready for continued cellaring or to enjoy at their leisure," explained Gago.

This delicate art of re-corking starts with the inspection of wines in the bottle. If the level of wine in the bottle is at the shoulder (below the neck) of the bottle, this often means that the wine is not good to drink. The main reasons for undrinkable wine are bad cellaring and a leaking cork.

Bottles with low levels may be opened, tested and have their quality assessed. If the wine is deemed to be in a sound condition, it is topped up with the most recent vintage of a similar wine, re-corked, provided with a new Penfolds capsule. This is to ensure that the quality of the wine will not be compromised by the procedure. The winemaker then certifies the wine, attaching a certificate on the back of the bottle stating that the wine has been successfully re-corked at the 2013 Penfolds Re-corking Clinic in Singapore.

Experts from leading wine auction house Acker Merrall & Condit were also on hand to investigate the investment value of wine possessions _ providing guidance to consumers about cellaring wines as an investment for the secondary market. Who knows, a valuable bottle of Penfolds wine might just hidden somewhere in your wine cellar?

"Proper cellaring is key to wine collecting as a long-term investment. The Penfolds Re-corking Clinics give collectors even more confidence that their collections of Grange will always remain in great condition. No other wine company offers the public this unique and exclusive after-sales service on this scale," said John Kapon, CEO of Acker Merrall & Condit.

Since 1991, more than 120,000 bottles have been assessed at Penfolds Re-corking Clinics from around the world including Europe, the Americas, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand.

Penfolds has been creating an array of wines since 1844 and led the development of Australian fine wine into the modern era. The introduction of Penfolds Grange in 1951 forever changed the landscape of Australian fine wine. Since then a series of standout wines, both white and red, have been released under the Penfolds masthead.

For more information on Penfolds Re-corking Clinics including in-depth tasting notes, visit

Certificates ensuring that the wines are drinkable.

About the author

Writer: Prapai Kraisornkovit
Position: Life Editor