Penfolds has unveiled its most expensive wine ever, sequestered in a bespoke wooden cabinet and costing $168,000. And no, it's not Grange.
Launched at a tasting in Moscow, the cabinet holds a glass ampoule filled with 750 milliliters of 2004 Kalimna Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon, from South Australia's Barossa Valley.
By contrast, an unadorned 750-ml bottle of the 2004 Block 42 currently retails at an average price of $661. But buyers of the ampoule will be paying to join a select group; just 12 of the "beautiful, thoughtful, unique" items have been produced. The hand-blown glass ampoule is suspended in its cabinet by a "plumb-bob" of grey glass.
Penfolds commissioned four South Australian craftsmen to design the ampoule and its surrounding structure: glass sculptor Nick Mount, metalsmith Hendrik Forster, cabinet maker Andrew Bartlett, and glass blower Ray Leake.
According to Penfolds, the ampoule "provides a truly memorable experiential and sensory engagement." However, when the time comes for the 12 disciples of Kalimna Block 42 to break open their treasure, the company suggests that considerable help will be required.
"A senior member of Penfolds Winemaking team will personally attend a special opening ceremony for the owner (essentially your very own master-class)," says a Penfolds statement. "The winemaker will travel to the destination of choice, where the ampoule will be ceremoniously removed from its glass plumb-bob casing and opened using a specially designed, tungsten-tipped, sterling silver scribe-snap. The winemaker will then prepare the wine using a beautifully crafted sterling silver tastevin."
The 10-acre Block 42 was planted in 1885, making it "the oldest plantings of continuously producing cabernet sauvignon vines in the world." The wine was first released in the 1950's, but only a handful of times since – due to the low yielding nature of Block 42. The cabernet sauvignon grapes from the site were blended into early bottlings of Penfolds Grange, and also make an appearances in today's Bin 707.
Fast Facts from Wine-Searcher's database:
- Average price in January 2007: $282
- When to drink: 2010–2044
- Average critics' score: 97/100.