Australia’s Most Famous Winery Releases a $185,000 Bottle
Any wine lovers with $185,000 burning a hole in their pockets may be interested in the release of something special Down Under: a six-liter Imperial bottle of arguably Australia’s most famous wine, plus a hand-blown, hand-cut crystal decanter to pour it from.
“We have bottled some Imperials previously” said Peter Gago, Penfolds's chief winemaker, of the oversized bottle, “more for long-term cellaring in our museum. Every now and then we’ve released one at auction, and there is pandemonium. So we thought: Why not release a few—and why not with a vintage as good as 2012?”
Just five Imperials of 2012 Penfolds Grange are being released globally. As bottles of such size are nearly impossible to pour from with any dignity, Penfolds asked crystal maker Saint-Louis of France to make a suitable decanter. Saint-Louis is Europe’s oldest glass maker, having been in business since the 1500s. “It’s really a piece of art,” Saint-Louis President Jerome St. Lavergnolle says of the grandly titled Aeveum Imperial Service Ritual. “We have more than 1,800 simple diamond cuts, one by one.”
The unique and expensive pairing was unveiled in the South Australia capital of Adelaide on Tuesday night in the cellars of Penfolds, part of the Treasury Wine Estate stable of brands.
Grange is a Shiraz that's the flagship wine of Penfolds, with a history as rich as its palate. Created by Penfolds winemaker Max Schubert in the 1950s, it couldn’t have had a worse debut. Critics hated it, one saying that no right-minded person would buy, let alone drink, the wine. Penfolds ordered Schubert to stop making it.
However, Schubert ignored his superiors and continued to make Grange in secret. As it turned out, the wine aged rather well. A few years later, the early critics were its biggest fans, so Penfolds asked Shubert to restart production. When he unveiled the hidden stash, Shubert's elevation to Australian winemaking legend was complete.
The 2012 vintage is the latest to enjoy perfect scores from critics, with Grange Chief Winemaker Peter Gago saying it can be drunk right away or easily cellar for at least half a century. When it goes on sale on Thursday, Oct. 20, the standard 750-milliliter bottle will retail in Australia for more than A$900 ($690). If you want to splash for some Saint-Louis without springing for the Imperial, smaller Penfolds Aevum decanters will be available for $2,100.