Record bid for bottle of Penfolds Grange

Tim DorninAAP
A single bottle of Bin 1 Grange Hermitage went for $103,000 at auction in Melbourne last year.
Camera IconA single bottle of Bin 1 Grange Hermitage went for $103,000 at auction in Melbourne last year. Credit: AAP

A rare bottle of 1951 Penfolds Grange, signed by its creator and the company’s chief winemaker at the time, Max Schubert, has sold for a record $122,001.

It’s believed to be the highest price ever paid at auction for a bottle of Australian wine, after a Melbourne buyer paid $103,000 for a single bottle of the Bin 1 Grange Hermitage last year.

Just two bids were placed at the online auction on Sunday with 76 people watching online and a reserve price of up to $160,000.

The bottle was re-corked in 1988 because the original cork had perished, and is listed as having minor label damage with a wax stamped seal now over the original white foil capsule.

“This bottle of 1951 is extremely rare, comes from an exceptional cellar and will be highly sought after by collectors,” the company said.

While it is hard to be certain, estimates suggest there are up to 35 bottles of the original vintage still in circulation including about 15 that are part of complete sets.

In 2018, a bottle of the 1951 vintage sold for $80,386 with two bottles fetching $81,000 each the following year.

At that same auction in 2019, a full set of Grange, from 1951 to 2015, was snapped up for $372,800.

That was followed by a Sydney wine lover paying $430,000 for a set in December last year.

The Grange owes much of its status to its history, starting out as an experiment by Schubert, who did not sell it commercially but gifted the wine to friends and family.

He was Penfolds’ first chief winemaker, holding the title from 1948 to 1975.

The initial response to his creation was not favourable and by 1957 Penfolds had ordered him to stop production.

Despite this direction, the next three vintages were still produced and a subsequent tasting of the early wines by the Penfolds’ board returned more favourable opinions.

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