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Australia’s Exquisite Wine Boom: Penfolds & DRC Breaks Records

Super-fine wine is reaching new heights, which is good news for Australian wine regions!

A Melbourne buyer has just purchased a 1951 Penfolds Bin 1 Grange for over $103,000*, which is the highest price ever paid for a bottle of Australian wine.

But the records don’t stop there! Just two days after the Penfold’s auction, 246 bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) from James Halliday’s cellar were sold, making it the largest successful sale of this elegant wine from Burgundy in one parcel.

Altogether, it’s a spectacular time to be a fine winemaker.

“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,” said Jeremy Parham, General Manager of Australia’s leading fine wine marketplace Langton’s.

In total, 1,092 bottles of Penfolds were sold during the Langton’s Penfolds: Rewards of Patience Auction. 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,” said Langton’s Head of Auctions Tamara Grischy.

In December, a set of Penfolds Grange from 1951 to 2015 was sold for $372,800* by Langton’s. 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 per cent clearance rate (only six bottles were passed on).

The online auction attracted international attention, with approximately 35 per cent 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 explained.

Overall, the demand for fine wine has increased since COVID restrictions took place in late March, with an almost 50 per cent 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 said.

Reward's of Patience Grange Decade Group. Image: Supplied

Rewards of Patience Grange Decade Group. Image: Supplied

Langton’s 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 said.

“He believed in his conviction, and he kept making Grange, even though 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,” he added.

If you’re interested in adding to your own collection, you can explore the offerings on Langton’s now.

Record prices* Penfolds: Rewards of Patience Auction

  • 1951 Penfolds Bin 1 Grange – $103,555.00 – previous record -$81,550 in December 2019
  • 1952 PENFOLDS Bin 4 Grange Hermitage, South Australia -$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.

Other highlights

  • 1954 PENFOLDS Bin 11 Grange Hermitage, South Australia -$20,971
  • 1955 PENFOLDS Bin 95 Grange Shiraz – $12,815
  • 1960 PENFOLDS Bin 49 Grange Hermitage, South Australia – $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, La Tache – $9,903
  • 1999 DOMAINE DE LA ROMANEE-CONTI, La Tache – $9,670
  • 2002 DOMAINE DE LA ROMANEE-CONTI, La Tache – $7,503

*Including Buyer’s Premium, which is 16.5% including GST and is paid on top of the hammer price.

Looking for something a little more affordable? Check out our list of the top 10 Australian reds for winter 2020. If all this seems a little beyond your comfort zone, try brushing up your wine knowledge with this ultimate wine glossary.

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