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Penfolds' chief winemaker reveals the secret to the perfect plonk after bottle of the famous Grange red sold for a record $103,555

Penfolds' chief winemaker has revealed the secrets behind their popular wine after one bottle of red recently sold for a record $103,555.

A mystery Melbourne buyer bought the ultra-rare 1951 Penfolds Bin 1 Grange, from South Australia, for the princely sum during an online auction on June 29.

The hefty price means a single standard glass of the wine would cost more than $20,500, making it Australia's most expensive ever wine.

Peter Gago, who has been the chief winemaker for 31 years, said several factors including the quality of grapes and the right bottling equipment are all ingredients to Penfolds' 'secret sauce.' 

Mr Gago said while many industry experts talk about the importance of picking grapes at the right time, he believes that is only the first step in making a bottle of delicious wine. 

Well the time of bottling the wine is as important as when to pick the grapes,' Mr Gago told Business Insider.

'There are hundreds of decision making processes along the winemaking track and if you get it right, you can do something quite magical.' 

He said many technological advances have made producing wine a more streamlined process but what hasn't changed is how Penfolds' wine is created.

'The basic fermentation process has never changed. It's still a conversion by yeast of grape sugars into a finished wine,' he said.  

Langton's Head of Auctions Tamara Grischy, who carried out the record sale, told Daily Mail Australia the ultra-rare wine was highly sought after by collectors.

'This is a historic vintage, and represents the beginning of modern Australian wine,' he said.

'This is the first vintage of Australia's most renowned wine, and Penfolds Grange was a wine that Penfolds first chief winemaker Max Schubert made 69 years ago as an experiment.'

Penfolds spreads its business across multiple vineyards, allowing it to make a diverse array of wines such as Shiraz, Cabernet and Chardonnay. 

Ms Grischy said its Grange range was a constant hit with collectors.

'Another reason the 1951 Penfolds Grange is so coveted is because collectors need it to complete their sets, which means collections with every vintage made of Penfolds Grange, and the sets are very rare,' he explained.

'A set of Penfolds Grange with vintages from 1951 to 2015 was sold for $372,800 in December 2019 in the Langton's Rewards of Patience Auction, a world record amount.

More than 1,000 bottles of Penfolds wines were sold during the latest auction.

A 1952 Grange sold for $46,601 and a 1970 Grange went for $3,501 - records for both sets of wines.

The 1951 Penfolds that sold for $103,555 beat the previous 2018 record when the same wine was sold for $81,550.

Grange 1951 sets new Australian wine record

A new record for Australian wine sold at auction has been set by a bottle of 1951 Grange, the first vintage by Penfolds’ founding winemaker Max Schubert.

The bottle was sold for AU$67,001 by auction house Langton’s, smashing the previous Australian wine record of AU$51,750, which was set less than a year ago.

Fewer the two dozen bottles of the 1951 are believed to be in existence – production was limited to 100 cases at the time, distributed to family and friends of the estate.

The auction featured more than 800 bottles of Penfolds wines, including a vertical of Grange from 1951 to 2013, which sold for AU$265,001.

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The Story

Grange is arguably Australia’s most celebrated wine and is officially listed as a Heritage Icon of South Australia. Grange boasts an unbroken line of vintages from the experimental 1951 and clearly demonstrates the synergy between Shiraz and the soils and climates of South Australia. Grange utilises fully-ripe, intensely-flavoured and textured Shiraz grapes. The result is a unique Australian style that is now recognised as one of the most consistent of the world’s great wines. The Grange style is the original and most powerful expression of Penfolds multi-vineyard, multi-district, blending philosophy.

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Written Notes

The first experimental Grange and extremely rare. A valuable collector’s item because of its historical significance. Rare hand blown bottles. Largely the wine has a dull tawny colour and skeletal palate structure with little flesh and fading tannins. Very rare. 100% Shiraz 50% Magill Estate 50% Morphett Vale (Adelaide Environs). A hot, very dry growing season. 100 cases/3 Hogsheads made. Released as Bin 1
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Information

Origin

Magill, South Australia

Other wines from this producer

50-Year-Old Rare Tawny Series 3

Bin 128 Shiraz

Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz

Bin 170 Kalimna Shiraz

Bin 19A Reserve Bin Chardonnay

Bin 23 Pinot Noir

Bin 2 Shiraz Mourvedre

Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz

Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon

Bin 62

Bin 620

Bin 798 RWT Shiraz

Bin 7 Coonawarra Cabernet Kalimna Shiraz

Bin 820

Bin 8 Cabernet Shiraz

Bin 90 A

Bin 920 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz

Bin 9 Cabernet Sauvignon

Block 42 Kalimna Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Cellar Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Cellar Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz

Cellar Reserve Fiano

Cellar Reserve Pinot Noir

Cellar Reserve Sangiovese

Cellar Reserve Tempranillo

g3

Koonunga Hill Cabernet Shiraz

Koonunga Hill Chardonnay

Magill Estate Shiraz

Max's Shiraz

Penfolds Bin 138 GMS

Penfolds Bin 138 Grenache Mourvèdre Shiraz

Penfolds Bin 169

Penfolds Bin 23 Pinot Noir

Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz

Penfolds Bin 311

Penfolds Bin 407

Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling

Penfolds Bin 60A Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz

Penfolds Bin 707

Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon

Penfolds Bluestone Grand Tawny

Penfolds Grandfather's Tawny

Penfolds Great Grandfather's Tawny

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon

Penfolds Reserve Bin 09A Chardonnay

Penfolds RWT

QoN

Rawson's Retreat

Rawson's Retreat Bin 202 Riesling

Rawson's Retreat Merlot

Rawson's Retreat Riesling

Rawson's Retreat Shiraz Cabernet

Reserve Bin 17A Chardonnay

Reserve Bin 5A

Reserve Bin A

Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay

RWT Shiraz

Series One 50 Year Old Port

Special BIN 111A Shiraz

St Henri Shiraz

Thienot x Penfolds Blanc de Blancs Champagne

Thienot x Penfolds Blanc de Noir Champagne

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