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GFC fails to deter Australian Wine Collectors…so far…

Langton’s Top 500 Australian Fine Wine Prices 2008 reveals the enduring prominence of Penfolds Grange, the remarkable efficacy of Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine, the strength of Australian Shiraz and the ever-increasing price evolution of Australian rarities. Many of Australia’s best wines have transcended negative economic sentiment because of their longstanding reputation of quality, solid track record at auction, overall value and relative short supply.

The secondary wine market, however, is not immune to the global financial crisis. The last quarter of 2008 saw clearance rates drop, supply increase and overall sales higher than in 2007. Ultra- fine Australian wine has performed surprisingly well, considering the faltering international auction market.

Andrew Caillard MW, Langton’s Fine Wine Director, said “The Australian market is supported by a wide demographic and geographic spread of buyers. There is something very egalitarian and accessible about ultra-fine Australian wine. Prices, which have been constant all year, are still generally within reach of most wine collectors and enthusiasts. While the top 30 wines all achieved over $1000 a bottle, these particular vintages represent a very specialised niche of the overall market. Over 90% of wines sold at auction range from between $20 and $100 a bottle.”

* 1951 Penfolds Bin 1 Grange, the first experimental Grange vintage and described as “Australia’s wine-equivalent to powered flight” – achieved a record top price of $53,936/bottle. Penfolds continues to dominate the first 20 placings illustrating its leading position as Australia’s top collectible wine.

* Australia’s “legendary” vintages peppered the top 100 placings. These included 1962 Penfolds Bin 60A Coonawarra Cabernet – Kalimna Shiraz (8th — $4026), 1955 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Michael Shiraz (13th- $1730) 1963 Mildara Peppermint Patty Cabernet Sauvignon (41st — $807) and 1967 Penfolds Bin 7 (46th – $691). Rare vintages typified by 1954 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (23rd — $1151), one of Australia’s oldest contiguous wine brands, and 1961 Seppelt CH 19 Great Western Burgundy (55th — $578) have doubled in value over the last year.

The ever diminishing supply of these type of wines and an increasing interest in Australian wine heritage will see prices escalate over the next five years.

* Seppeltsfield (Seppelt) 100 Year Old Para enjoyed a strong and consistent year. These increasingly rare and important “vintage tawnies” have sparked renewed enthusiasm among wine collectors. Although representing single bottle sales, 1879 (12th — $2300), 1900 (14th -1725), 1899 (16th – $1565), 1889 (22nd — $1265), 1885 (27th — $1037) and 1901 (28th – $1035) all placed within the top 30 prices. Old Australian vintage fortified wines, especially Seppeltsfield (Seppelt) Para Liqueur and “vintage ports” also enjoyed higher than expected prices during the year, perhaps reflecting their “low risk” assurance.

Many of these wines are drinking beautifully.

* The beautifully scented and richly proportioned Chris Ringland Shiraz, formerly known as Three Rivers Shiraz, has repeated its strong performance in 2008. This year, the 1998 vintage (21st — $1277) commanded the highest price for an Australian wine made since 1962. 1973 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon (26th — $1093), while not repeating its record price of 2007 ($2301) still made the top 30.

* Langton’s Exceptionals were lead by Penfolds Grange. Bass Phillip Reserve, Cullen (Diane Madeline) Cabernet Merlot , Giaconda Estate Vineyard Chardonnay, Henschke Hill of Grace, Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, Moss Wood Cabernet, Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, Wendouree Shiraz, and Mount Mary Quintet all logged convincing placings within Langton’s Top 500.

* Brokenwood Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, Greenock Creek Roennfeldt Road, Clarendon Hills Astralis, Jim Barry The Armagh, Torbreck RunRig and Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier performed well, illustrating the strength of top Australian shirazes in the overall market. Kaesler Old Bastard Shiraz, Kalleske Johann Georg Old Vine Shiraz, Rockford’s sub-regional Shirazes and Wolf Blass Platinum Shiraz have made strong inroads during 2008.

* The curiously-named Wild Duck Creek Duck Muck Shiraz – made from thick concentrated pressings – continues to maintain a cult-like presence. Two Hands Ares, Magpie Estate “The Malcolm”, Glaetzer Amon Ra, Saltram The Eighth Maker all made Langton’s Top 500 showing the extraordinary and bewildering depth of Barossa Shiraz.

* The little-known cult type Mollydooker Velvet Glove Shiraz (233rd and 265th) – mainly exported to the US — was the surprising left-hand googly!

Langton’s predicts the secondary market to soften over the next six months. Prices for the best Australian marques and vintages should hold up, but clearance rates will remain erratic for the first-half of 2009.

Market equilibrium is expected during the second-half as sellers and buyers recalibrate expectations; especially for imported classed growth Bordeaux and Grand Cru Burgundy. The wine auction market still remains a key “lowest” entry point for wine collectors. Prices are unlikely to move in 2009, but there are still plenty of buyers. The Porsche might have to go, but for many of our clients, life without a half-decent bottle of wine would be unthinkable.

To view more information please go to www.langtons.com.au.

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