What Recession? Demand surges for Fine Wine at Auction

By Fergal Gleeson

Most would say times are tough but clearly not everyone is feeling the pain as evidenced by the fact that Langton’s Auction Website is seeing records being broken for fine wine at auctions through June and July.


1951 Penfolds Bin 1 Grange

A Melbourne buyer purchased a 1951 Penfolds Bin 1 Grange for over $103,000 in June, which is the highest price ever paid for a bottle of Australian wine.

The record came just two days after 246 bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) – widely considered the world’s greatest wine – from James Halliday’s cellar were sold, making it the largest successful sale in Australia of Burgundy in one parcel.

“The demand for fine wine is stronger than ever judging by these two flagship auctions, as fine wine collectors look to enhance their cellar collections,” said Langton’s General Manager Jeremy Parham.

In total, 1092 bottles of Penfolds were sold during the Langton’s Penfolds: Rewards of Patience Auction, which closed. The previous record for the first vintage of Penfolds Grange was $81,000.*

“The early 1950s Penfolds Grange wines are very rare, so collectors will snap these up when they can in order to complete their sets of every vintage of these incredible wines.



A few days before the Penfolds auction, James Halliday’s collection of DRC wines closed. The auction of his pristinely cellared 252 bottle collection had a 98 per cent clearance rate.

The online auction attracted international attention, with approximately 35 percent of the wines sold to overseas buyers.

James Halliday


Overall, the demand for fine wine has increased since Covid restrictions took place in late March, with an almost 50 per cent increase in the number of online bidders and a sharp increase in the number of customers purchasing fine wines from the Langtons website.

So while prices of most things are falling fine wines prices are counter cyclical. Who’d have thunk it?

Check out the following Auction results:

Record prices* Penfolds Rewards of Patience Auction – closed Tuesday 30th June
1951 Penfolds Bin 1 Grange – $103,555.00 – previous record -$81,550 in December 2019
1952 PENFOLDS Bin 4 Grange Hermitage, South Australia -$46,601 – previous record -$38,586 in June 2019
1970 PENFOLDS Bin 95 Grange Shiraz – $3501 – last price $1,747 in May.

Other big buys!
1954 PENFOLDS Bin 11 Grange Hermitage, South Australia -$20,971
1955 PENFOLDS Bin 95 Grange Shiraz – $12,815
1960 PENFOLDS Bin 49 Grange Hermitage, South Australia – $9,325

Top DRC prices from James Halliday’s collection – closed Sunday 28th June
1973 DOMAINE DE LA ROMANEE-CONTI, Romanee-Conti – $11,715
2005 DOMAINE DE LA ROMANEE-CONTI, La Tache – $10,486
2015 DOMAINE DE LA ROMANEE-CONTI, La Tache – $9,903
1999 DOMAINE DE LA ROMANEE-CONTI, La Tache – $9,670
2002 DOMAINE DE LA ROMANEE-CONTI, La Tache – $7,503

Meanwhile back on plant earth I can confirm that even wines at auction at $50-60 a bottle where I tend to cap out are also keenly fought for. People with a lot of time on their hands.

Clearly not everyone working from home is being as productive as they are letting on…. Don’t worry I won’t tell anyone!

More at http://www.langtons.com.au

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