By Andrew Spence
A full set of Penfolds Grange spanning 65 vintages from 1951 to 2015 has set a new world record for the iconic Australian red wine selling for $AU372,000.
The set of luxury South Australian wine was purchased on Sunday evening in the Langton’s Rewards of Patience Auction by an Australian investor, eclipsing the previous record for a Penfolds Grange set (1951 to 2014) of $349,500.
“We’ve seen fewer and fewer of Penfolds Grange sets on the markets, and the collectors are certainly looking for them, so watch this space – I’m sure the demand will keep going up,” said Langton’s General Manager Jeremy Parham.
“Every set is unique and has its own unique value depending on its condition and provenance. This was a super set that was in perfect condition, so I’m not surprised about the result.”
The record price includes tax and a buyer’s premium of 16.5 per cent on top of the hammer price.
The set of Grange was among more than 1800 bottles sold this week as part of wine auction house Langton’s Rewards of Patience Auction, the world’s largest auction devoted exclusively to Penfolds.
Penfolds has produced Grange every year since winemaker Max Schubert’s first vintage in 1951 with the current 2015 vintage retailing for about $AU800 a bottle.
The wine typically predominantly Shiraz from the Barossa Valley blended with a very small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Two single bottles of 1951 Penfolds Grange sold for more than $81,000, which was also a record.
“It’s rare to have one, let alone two bottles of this historic vintage in the auction, and for both bottles to fetch this price is absolutely sensational,” said Tamara Grischy, Head of Auctions at Langton’s.
“It is believed there are less than 20 bottles in circulation, and the 1951 Penfolds Grange is coveted among collectors who want to have a complete set. This wine truly represents the beginning of modern Australian wine, as Penfolds Grange has put Australia on the world map of fine wine,” she explained.
A Penfolds Grange from 1953 – which is a Penfolds Cabernet – sold for over $31,000, which is another record. The previous time a 1953 Penfolds Cabernet was for sale in 2017 it sold for $17,475.
“The Penfolds Grange Cabernets were made in addition to Penfolds Grange, which is made with Shiraz. Max Schubert only made two vintages using Cabernet, in 1952 and 1953, so these bottles are very rare,” Grischy explained.
One of the more affordable bottles sold was $30 for a 1990 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Claret Cabernet Blend.
“This is an absolute bargain for a wine that is almost 30 years old, and it is drinking beautifully at the moment,” she said.
The wines in the Langton’s Rewards of Patience Auction are sold on consignment, on behalf of collectors.
Penfolds is best known for iconic South Australian Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon largely from the Barossa Valley.
The winery was founded in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs in 1844 by English physician Christopher Rawson Penfold and his wife Mary after they emigrated to South Australia.
Penfolds is now part of the Treasury Wine Estate (TWE) group, which also includes brands such as Wolf Blass, Wynns and Beaulieu Vineyards.
South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual production and 80 per cent of its premium wine.
In total, over 1800 bottles of Penfolds went under the hammer in the online auction and fetched over $AU1million.
“The Penfolds Grange set, one of the 1951 Penfolds Grange bottles and the 1953 Penfolds Grange Cabernet were sold on behalf of a collector in South Australia. He was understandably thrilled by the results,” Grischy added.
“The market demand for Penfolds remains strong and healthy,” Grischy said
“I think we love Penfolds because it’s such an Australian story, it’s the underdog story defined. Max Schubert was Penfolds first Chief Winemaker, who started making the Grange as an experiment. At the time, Australian winemakers were mainly making fortified wines.
“He believed in his conviction, and he kept making the Grange, although he was actually told to stop making it by his supervisors. He was a rebel, and the wine world can forever be grateful for his refusal to do what he was told.”
Langton’s Rewards of Patience Auction is in its 23rd year and takes place every six months. The next auction will take place in June 2020.
Picture: The record-breaking set of Grange was among more than 1800 bottles sold this week at the auction devoted exclusively to Penfolds.
This article originally appeared at The Lead SA.
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