Patrick Dowling was destined for a career in wine after meeting and tasting wines from fifth and sixth generation winemakers at an event held in Melbourne during the mid-nineties. Inspired by the winemakers and their engaging stories, Patrick wanted to learn and discover more about this truly unique industry. In particular, it was whilst tasting a bottle of Barolo a few years later, that Patrick’s decision to pursue a career in wine was determined and he soon went on to commence a Bachelor of Wine Marketing at Adelaide University.
His long-held love of wine has led him to visit some of the world’s premium grape-growing regions and participate in vintages at vineyards across Victoria and Tasmania. After applying his skills internationally across numerous fields, including fine wine sales and marketing, Patrick now brings over 20 years of industry experience to his role as Penfolds Ambassador for South East Asia.
Drawn to the rich heritage and history of Penfolds, one of Patrick’s favourite wines from the collection is Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz – often referred to as ‘Baby Grange.’ It was during a backvintage tasting of this wine in London that Patrick was left with a sense of pride and admiration, after experiencing such “uniquely Australian” wines.
This love for Australian wine, has led Patrick to become an active member of several industry bodies and is also an accomplished wine judge. Passionate about sharing the unique wines and stories of Penfolds with all levels of enthusiast, Patrick is now based in Singapore and travels extensively in his ambassadorial role across the South East Asia region.
Patrick has patiently and graciously shared his passion with Eliteror.com.
1. How does Penfolds keep abreast with the myriad of changes in the culinary scene in Asia?
Penfolds has had a presence in several countries around Asia for many years now, employing both local and foreign staff. To stay ahead of our competitors, we work very closely with our local colleagues from each region, to keep abreast of the culinary trends that matter. Also, wherever you find wine professionals, you also find obsessive lovers of great food, new restaurants and gun chefs, and this also helps ensure we are offering the right wines to the right venues, day in day out.
2. Is Australian wine still considered ‘New World’ wine? Is it possible to shake off this label?
Australia is a New World wine region, and will always be known as such. The term New World from a wine perspective was first used to distinguish countries like Australia, South America, the U.S. and South Africa from European countries, that had centuries old wine winemaking and wine consumption tradition. It also helped differentiate between the style of wines produced in Europe, which were often made in a savoury, structured and lighter in alcohol style, compared to the New World wines, which were made in a fruit forward, bolder and richer style. However, as the world has become a much smaller place thanks to affordable air travel, many winemakers from both worlds work vintages on the opposite side of the globe each year, bringing back home with them new idea’s to include in future vintages. Whilst this hasn’t completely changed the global landscape, it’s now common to see New World influences in the Old World, and vice versa.
3. How does Penfolds groom the next generation of blenders?
We’ve been very lucky at Penfolds to have only had four Chief Winemakers over the past 65 years, and equally lucky that many of the current Penfolds winemaking team have been with the business for more than 20 years. This mix ensures that history, tradition and winemaking style is not lost on the next generation who come through the doors at Penfolds.
4. In your opinion, will there be another Max Schubert (pioneering Australian winemaker)?
Max Schubert was without doubt a true visionary in his field, and his enthusiasm and dedication to make the absolute best wines in Australia knew no boundaries. Max forged a path of great experimentation and invention at Penfolds, which subsequent Chief Winemakers followed in an effort to seek out new possibilities for Penfolds. Current Chief Winemaker Peter Gago, who has been at the helm since 2002, is certainly akin to a modern day Max Schubert, as he and the team are constantly researching and trialing new wine styles, which may one day become part of the Penfolds family. There are also many other visionaries in the Australian wine industry, who strive every day to create world class wines, and no doubt benefit from Max’s legacy as an Australian winemaking legend.
5. Is the new Magill Estate Cellar Door an open secret?
It’s not a secret at all! The cellar door and restaurant is now open to the public, and has already received rave reviews.
Please find attached a link which will give you a better idea of the project and results: https://www.penfolds.com/visit-penfolds/magill-estate-cellar-door
Penfolds’ reputation for making wines of provenance and cellaring potential might suggest a mantle of tradition and formality is the preferred attire of a company with so much history to defend. But to label Penfolds as simply an established and conventional winemaker, would be to confuse tradition with consideration and to overlook the innovative spirit that has driven Penfolds since its foundation, and continues to find expression in modern times.
If there is anything traditional about Penfolds, it is the practice of constantly reviewing the wines it already does well, and continuously evolving and refining styles as vineyards mature and access to ever older and more varied vineyard sites improves.
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