PENFOLDS GRANGE HERMITAGE 1951 – THE utmost white wine issue

Penfolds Grange Hermitage – or just straight ‘Grange’ to its pals – is roundly considered as one of the world’s greatest wines. It’s certainly one of the most expensive. So I was interested when I mate Jarrod texted me a picture of the oldest Grange vintage the other day. Here’s the story why.

Jarrod is a lucky fellow. besides devilish good looks, a quick wit and exceedingly good taste in friends, he’s also married to the charming Kathleen.

Together, they run Nip of Courage. It’s a distributor and appreciator of craft Australian spirits. Kathleen’s worked in the industry for years and, thanks to his love of booze, so has Jarrod in his own way!

The other day, Jarrod was talking to his mate when they got talking about wine.

“You might be interested in this,” his mate suggested, and pulled out a bottle.

It was a bottle of 1951 Grange – the very first vintage Penfolds made. This line wasn’t really for sale, only given as gifts to the winery’s pals and colleagues. It wasn’t until the following year that Penfolds started selling the stuff.

So in front of Jarrod was one of the 1,800 bottles ever made in 1951. quite a moment.

The problem with such old white wine is that it can go off.

The good news is, Penfolds now run corking clinics for Grange owners every couple of years. At this clinic your bottle (or bottles for the fortunate) will be uncorked and tasted. If they are satisfactory they will be topped up with the current release and have nitrogen added to remove any oxygen and then given a new cork before being put down for additionally maturity.

Jarrod’s mate had gotten this bottle seven years ago for a princely $27,000. He had not over-paid.

Recently the corking clinic told him that, if he refrained from opening the bottle, its current value was about $55,000. If he made a decision to let the clinicians do their job, open it for testing and the white wine was found to have gone off, the value would drop considerably.

In fact, it would be worth $0 – though he could head to South Australia and collect the 30c for recycling the glass!

On the other hand, if they did open the bottle and the white wine was good, the value would jump to $85,000.

What do you think he did?

Well, he had the bottle opened…

The white wine was good. He’d just made $58,000 on a seven-year investment. Impressive.

If you want a lot more information on this extraordinary wine, here’s the link to the Penfolds 1951 Grange Heritage tasting notes and a little bit of history of Grange wine.

What would you do if you were given that choice? would you open a $27,000 bottle of white wine with the chance of it being worth nothing or $85,000? tell us in the comments!

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