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Langtonā€™s sells 1951 Grange for a record $54K

A bottle of 1951 Penfolds Bin 1 Grange has fetched a record price of $53,936 at Langton’s annual Penfolds Wine Auction in Melbourne.

Auctioneer and managing director Stewart Langton said “This historic vintage marked the beginning of the modern Australian wine industry. It’s an extraordinary price for a significant wine. The 1951 vintage is seen by some observers as wine’s equivalent to powered flight! The technology and science behind the experimental Granges percolated throughout the world of fine wine. The bottle will stay in Australia.”

On his return to Australia from a grand tour of Europe, Penfolds Chief Winemaker Max Schubert, employed newly acquired ideas and made an experimental wine from the 1951 vintage. Sandie Coff – his daughter recalls “Dad told me he designed Grange in his head in the plane on his way back from Europe. It would be a truly Australian wine but able to rival the wonderful French wines he had seen.” Using Shiraz fruit from Magill and Morphett Vale, he produced the first Grange Hermitage – named after the original Grange cottage built by Dr Penfold at Magill in 1844.

Max Schubert called the wine Hermitage rather than Shiraz to “pander to the snobs in New South Wales” an important market for Penfolds. Indeed a visitor to Sydney – so impressed by the number of Penfolds wine bars and advertising hoardings – once said that the city might as well be called Penfolds!

It was a night of top Grange prices. 1956 and 1958 — two of the so called hidden Granges achieved new auction records of $17,826 and $14,951 respectively. 1966 ($2876), 1976 ($844)and 1991 ($517) all eclipsed auction estimates reaching zenith prices. Overall realisations were extremely buoyant, illustrating Penfolds enduring strength in the secondary wine market place. The sale attracted buyers from Australia, Asia, the US and Europe. Another highlight included $4206 for 1962 Penfolds Bin 60A Cabernet Shiraz – one of Australia’s most famous wines and recently voted as one of the top ten wines in the world to try before you die!

Stewart Langton said “Penfolds has a great reputation for making wines that are both delicious to drink and lasting. While the focus of this sale is inevitably on the most highly valuable bottles, we sold hundreds of wines at more affordable prices. Our buyers range from serious wine collectors to every day drinkers. Penfolds has been so successful on the secondary wine market because it appeals to everybody. At one end of the sale collectors are competing at astonishing price levels. At the other end buyers are picking up lovely wines such as Bin 128, Bin 28 and Koonunga Hill for under $20 a bottle. Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz and St Henri Shiraz are probably the most popular wines achieving anywhere from $35 to $110 a bottle depending on vintage reputation. Buying at auction can be one of the most enjoyable and economical ways to drink fine wine.”

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