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Australian Vintage Wine To Smash All Records At Auction

A single bottle of 1951 Penfolds Grange is expected to sell for a record price in an online auction that winds up on July 18.

MELBOURNE, Australia — A rare, first-ever vintage wine of 1951 of South Australia’s Penfolds Grange, signed by its creator and the company’s chief winemaker at the time, Max Schubert is set to go under the hammer with the sale price expected to smash all existing record bids.

Bidding has already topped AU$122,000 ($90,098.22) in Langton’s online auction which closes on July 18.

That’s already higher than the AU$103,000 ($76,065.50) paid for a single bottle of the Bin 1 Grange Hermitage by a Melbourne buyer at an auction in 2020.

Langton’s has set a price range of up to AU$160,000 ($1,18160) for its latest offering which was recorked in 1988 because the original cork had perished.

“This bottle is one of a kind in the world, and I’ve never seen anything like it in my more than 20 years in fine wine. We expect it to go under the hammer for around $120,000* if it sells,” said Langton’s head of auctions Tamara Grischy.

Bidding has already topped AU$122,000 ($90,098.22) in Langton’s online auction which closes on July 18. (Christin Hume/Unsplash)

It 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 AU$80,386 ($59365) with two bottles fetching AU$81,000 ($59818.5) each the following year.

At that same auction in 2019, a full set of Grange, from 1951 to 2015, was snapped up for AU$372,800 ($275312.8).

That was followed by a Sydney wine lover paying AU$430,000 ($317,555) for a set in Dec. 2020.

A bottle of Penfolds Grange 1959 is held at Wine House in Melbourne. (Julian Smith/AAP Image)

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 favorable 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 favorable opinions.

It is hard to put a number on the original vintage wines still in circulation. However, estimates suggest there are about 35, of which 15 could be part of complete sets.

(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Krishna Kakani)