The most expensive wine ever sold directly from a winery will go on sale this week, from the venerable Australian vintner Penfolds. The limited edition release of the 2004 Penfolds Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon is priced at $168,000 a bottle.
Later planted at the Kalimna Vineyard in the Barossa Valley, northeast of Adelaide, the vines today provide unequaled juice, but little of it. Only 12 bottles of the 2004 vintage will be sold.
To add further cachet, Penfolds commissioned an ampoule of scientific grade glass to hold it from three Australian artists: Nick Mount, who designed and hand-blew the glass; silversmith Hendrik Forster, who prepared the precious metal detailing; and furniture craftsman Andrew Bartlett, made the bespoke Jarrah cabinet.
“Wine and art are intrinsically linked,” says Matt Lane, Penfolds’s U.S. representative, making the ideal buyer, says Lane, is “a big time, serious wine collector, of course, but also the art aficionado who wants to collect a unique sculpture.”
The other attribute of the ideal buyer — profoundly deep pockets — is indicated by the 12 bottles’ allocation for sale: three will go to Russia, London and Dubai, three to the rest of Asia, two to North America, and two to Australia. (One bottle will be donated to a charitable organization for auction, while the remaining one will be kept at Penfolds as a showpiece.)
“I can see a billionaire CEO buying the Penfolds ampoule,” says Lane. “Larry Ellison might want to drink it in celebration of buying 98 percent of Hawaii’s pineapple island, Lanai.”