Penfolds has partnered with Vietnamese Australian celebrity chef Luke Nguyen for a year-long collaboration that kicked off last week. Best known for its flagship red wine Grange, Penfolds has always believed in relentlessly pushing boundaries with determination, courage, and innovation — values that are also embodied by Chef Luke, who was raised in a refugee camp in Sydney before going on to open his restaurant, Red Lantern, at the tender age of 23.
Chef Luke’s philosophy for Vietnam House focuses on using quality ingredients and an elevated dining experience for a modern and contemporary take on Vietnamese cuisine. Vietnam House is a beautiful colonial building built by the French in 1901 on the illustrious Dong Khoi Street — a witness to some of the most significant chapters in Vietnam’s history.
Similarly, the magic of Penfolds begins in the vineyard with a winemaking philosophy unbound by country, vine, or time. Over a 178–year history, the selection of vineyard sites and quality of fruit has always underpinned Penfolds’ reputation, and this endeavor now continues with the winery’s courageous venture into California and France.
The partnership with chef Luke will be activated first through his upscale Vietnam House Restaurant. According to a recent study by Penfolds, Vietnamese wine drinkers place high importance on having the wine match their food.
To help consumers appreciate the pairing between Australian flavors and local cuisine, chef Luke will be serving premium Penfolds wines to enjoy alongside his local flavors. The wines that highlight this partnership include Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay, Penfolds Bin 8 Shiraz, Penfolds Bin 23 Pinot Noir, Penfolds Bin 389 Shiraz Cabernet, Penfolds Bin 95 Grange Shiraz, and Penfolds Club Tawny.
“I am thrilled to be working with Penfolds, as I’ve always admired this incredible, iconic wine brand. Being Vietnamese Australian, cooking quality Vietnamese dishes and pairing them with Penfolds’ premium wines makes the perfect partnership,” said Chef Luke at the launch of this new partnership.
“My ambition at Vietnam House is to elevate Vietnamese cuisine. So for me, Penfolds plays a big part in this journey,” he added.
Vietcetera can understand why Penfolds was so attracted to the idea of working with Chef Luke, who has written several cookbooks and produced, directed, and hosted a TV series featured in 160 countries worldwide.
Luke and Penfolds share the same core values, underscored by Irene Kong, Marketing Director, Penfolds International, who said, “We are excited to launch this partnership with Chef Luke. From humble beginnings, Chef Luke continued to innovate and set his sights on the future. He opened Vietnam House wanting to pay homage to his Vietnamese roots, adding a dash of rebellion and a lot of creativity. His story aligns with Penfolds’ pioneering spirit, and I am excited to see the creative food and wine pairings that will come out of this partnership.”
An intimate lunch for Saigon’s media hounds was personally hosted by Chef Luke and Penfolds’ wine guru and Head of Brand Ambassadors, Sam Stephens.
Guests were fascinated to absorb the words of wisdom from Sam, who so eloquently and succinctly unpacked the story of Penfolds into bite-size chunks that were easy for us to remember and appreciate. We learned about the history of a brand founded by British expatriates Christopher and Mary Penfold 178 years ago that has developed into Australia’s most famous premium wine with help along the way from creative visionaries such as winemaker Max Schubert who also has a range of wines named after him.
Many wine lovers recognize the iconic and highly desirable Penfolds Grange as the “top of the tree” at Penfolds. However, guests at lunch were also delighted to hear Sam explain how their renowned “Bin” system is graded and organized.
Sam explained that, essentially, the higher the bin numbers, the higher the quality of the wine. And the higher bin number typically uses grapes from older vines, sometimes up to 100 years old, which means that they produce a lower yield of grapes that are more intense in flavor profile and of a higher quality.
For example, the Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz is a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Shiraz. This wine is also known as Baby Grange because it uses very high-quality grapes that are not quite good enough to be considered for use in the illustrious Grange itself.
Sam also spoke during the lunch about the importance of the chemistry between the guests as a vital ingredient to any memorable wine and food-matching experience.
We were delighted to have enjoyed the company of such an eclectic, talented, and energetic group of guests, including Superstar DJ Levi, YouTube prodigy Calvin Bui, Instagram Queen Uyen Dang (@BubuFoodShow), and elegant French Vietnamese influencer Amandine (@acupper). Penfolds International General Manager Yodi Mootoosamy, who jetted in from Singapore with Sam and fellow executives Caryn Oh and Lim Ying May, also joined us.
Chef Luke’s menu is internationally renowned with a Vietnamese accent, much like the chef himself. He showcased some of the world’s finest ingredients, such as French oysters, Spanish Iberico Pork, and Australian tenderloin beef. He elevated them with special kumquat-satay sauce, Thien Ly flowers, and Bo Kho sauce as further manifestations of his mission to bring the best flavors of Vietnam to the world.
Penfolds are investing significantly more than any other wine brand to inform and educate Vietnamese consumers about the benefits of drinking wine and why they should choose Penfolds.
This latest brilliant initiative with a celebrity chef of Vietnamese and Australian heritage is yet another significant example of their commitment to developing the wine market in Vietnam.