Australia is experiencing “a super fine wine boom” with Penfolds Grange and DRC records broken within 48 hours, according to Langton’s.
A Melbourne buyer has purchased a 1951 Penfolds Bin 1 Grange for over $103,000 – the highest price ever paid for a bottle of Australian wine.
The record comes just two days after 246 bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) from James Halliday’s cellar were sold, making it the largest successful sale of this ethereal wine from Burgundy in one parcel.
“The demand for fine wine is stronger than ever judging by these two flagship auctions, as fine wine collectors look to enhance their cellar collections,” says Langton’s general manager Jeremy Parham.
In total, 1,092 bottles of Penfolds were sold during the Langton’s Penfolds: Rewards of Patience Auction, which closed on Tuesday. The previous record for the first vintage of Penfolds Grange was $81,000.
“The early 1950s Penfolds Grange wines are very rare, so collectors will snap these up when they can in order to complete their sets of every vintage of these incredible wines. The 1951 Penfolds Grange truly represents the beginning of modern Australian wine,” says Langton’s head of auctions Tamara Grischy.
In December, a set of Penfolds Grange from 1951 to 2015 was sold for $372,800 at their auctions.
A few days before the Penfolds auction, James Halliday’s collection of DRC wines closed. The auction of his pristinely cellared 252 bottle collection had a 98 percent clearance rate (only six bottles were passed in).
The online auction attracted international attention, with approximately 35 percent of the wines sold to overseas buyers. All wines came with a certificate of authenticity signed by James Halliday himself.
“The authenticity and provenance of the James Halliday collection drove all-time highs in bidding and pricing for DRC in the Australian market,” Ms Grischy says.
Overall, the demand for fine wine has increased since Covid restrictions took place in late March, with an almost 50 percent increase in the number of online bidders and a sharp increase in the number of customers purchasing fine wines from Langton’s website.
“With many of us still unable to visit our favourite restaurants or travel to cellar doors, new and existing clients have instead immersed themselves in the world of fine wine from the comfort of their homes,” Mr Parham says.
They will be auctioning wines from James Halliday’s Australian collection later this year.
The Rewards of Patience Auction is in its 24th year and takes place every six months. The next auction will take place in December 2020.
“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,” Mr Parham says.
“He believed in his conviction, and he kept making 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.
1951 Penfolds Bin 1 Grange – $103,555. Previous record $81,550 in December 2019.
1952 Penfolds Bin 4 Grange Hermitage – $46,601. Previous record $38,586 in June 2019.
1970 Penfolds Bin 95 Grange Shiraz – $3501. Last price $1,747 in May.
(Celebrating 50 years and signed by Max Schubert propelled demand for this bottle).
1954 Penfolds Bin 11 Grange Hermitage – $20,971.
1955 Penfolds Bin 95 Grange Shiraz – $12,815.
1960 Penfolds Bin 49 Grange Hermitage – $9,325.
Top DRC prices from James Halliday’s collection
1973 Domaine De La Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti – $11,715.
2005 Domaine De La Romanee-Conti La Tache – $10,486.
2015 Domaine De La Romanee-Conti – $9,903.
1999 Domaine De La Romanee-Conti La Tache – $9,670.
2002 Domaine De La Romanee-Conti La Tache – $7,503.