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Penfolds The Blocks: when design and wine collide

Penfolds teams up with acclaimed London designers Studio Toogood to create a new multi-sensory installation called 'The Blocks' aimed at showcasing their wine collection to the world. MiNDFOOD Reports.

Opening at Sydney’s Pier 2/3 this month, The Blocks offers wine aficionados a sommelier-guided tour of their innovative new space, featuring wooden totems infused with varying scents, art cabinets, a restaurant and bar, each based around their award-winning wines.

Each totem (or oak) has been inspired by Penfolds’ five grape varietals, infused with corresponding aromas and shaped as such. Professional perfumers have been hired to ensure accuracy in wine and aroma pairings, as visitors are encouraged to get up close and rub noses with them to decide which is best suited to their palate. There’s a narrow Chardonnay Oak, tall Regional wine-inspired totem, while the most robust scent of them all belongs to the Shiraz. 

For every oak, there is also a matching glass cabinet, packed with either visual, audio or poetic interpretations of the wines. The idea is to engage each of our senses to create a closer affinity with the wine most suited to our individual taste.

Under an illuminated indoor canopy, complete with gleaming glass grapes, guests are invited to complete their sensory indulgence by experiencing an innovative tasting menu prepared by chef Jock Zoonfrillo. Pumpkin infused with beef, south Devon tartare and Julungin laced with caramel are delivered on trays as starters, before we’re guided to the canopy to experience the rest of the menu. 

With a strong focus on native Australian ingredients, including local Suffolk lamb, saltbush ‘cockles and sea parsley’, and wild crafted Gubinge (Kakadu Plum) – a powder from the Kimberleys in Western Australia – Zonfrillo’a aim is to redefine the term ‘Australian cuisine’, moving away from the cross-continental mashup it has assumed in recent decades.  Each dish is intense in flavor and texture, with features like the ‘Budda’s hand riberries’ resembling the modern day olive, but with a slimier consistency. Even the most educated of food critics are bound to experience something new at The Blocks.

And, in line with true bush tucker, the prices are very reasonable, with everything on the menu coming in at under $15, meaning you’ll have plenty left over to sample Penfolds’ popular cabinet. The three-week installation closes on 5th April to open in Melbourne on the 4th May, before packing up and heading overseas. 

If you’re in Sydney, we highly recommend heading down to try this unique cellar experience – it will make you see wine in a whole new light.

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