What’s all the hoo-ha about Grange?
It’s an Australian icon and a household name around the world, but just when you start to think that Penfolds Grange just can’t get any more expensive, another auction closes and yet another record is set.
On 15 December 2019, the annual Langton’s Rewards of Patience Auction closed and a set of Penfolds Grange from 1951 to 2015 sold for $372,800 in what was a world record amount, knocked down to an Australian collector. The previous record was for a Penfolds Grange set from 1951 to 2014 which sold for $349,500.
I remember being surprised when a new world record was set for a full vertical set of the Penfolds flagship red when in 2017 du Plessis Auction House in Adelaide sold a set for $260,000. And that’s only a couple of years ago!
It’s probably fair to say that there aren’t too many investments that are showing that rate of capital growth in the current climate. So why the rapid surge in prices for our most collectable wine?
There are undoubtedly a whole range of reasons, but at the end of the day, it’s largely just the laws of supply and demand. Every time a rare bottle of Grange is consumed, the value of those remaining go up. The first and rarest of Grange, the 1951 vintage, regularly sells at around $80,000 a bottle.
And when it is estimated that there are less than 20 bottles left in circulation, it’s hard to imagine the value going in any other direction than north. Basking in the glory of such a successful sale, the General Manager of Langton’s, Jeremy Parham, said “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.” And with increasing interest in collectable Australian wines by Asian and particularly, Chinese, buyers the future value seems assured.
The enthusiasm and appetite for Grange is pleasing to see, but it begs the obvious question, should we rush out and buy up while we can? Well, if you ask me, there’s not much point in buying up the recently released vintages as there are plenty of them on the market and recent history shows that in the first few years following release of a vintage, you can buy Grange on the secondary market for less than the original retail price.
If you’re interested in collecting, my tip would be to identify the best vintages that will cost a bit more to buy, as the demand for these is likely to be much higher in the future.
Personally, I’d be looking for the 1971, 1986, 1990 and 1998 releases. But beware, if you don’t have the right cellaring conditions, your investment could go pear-shaped faster than a Queensland Deputy Premier’s investment in real estate!
The current release of Grange is the 2015 edition and was launched with a $900 asking price. That doesn’t sound like great value to me, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there are sure to be plenty of international admirers!