Are Rare Expensive Wines Sheer Folly?

All we wine lovers, irrespective of our financial well being, look for value when choosing and buying our stocks of red, white or bubbly wines.

Occasionally we have a bit of a splurge – a French champagne for a special anniversary, a well matured shiraz for a dinner party with good friends or an aged Riesling to accompany a wonderful cheese or dessert.

But when it comes to rare expensive wines, and I mean very rare and very expensive, would we part with the cash even if we had it?

rare expensive wines


The latest example of a wine of this type is an exclusive Cabernet Sauvignon produced by the Australian winery, Penfolds.

(This wine maker also produces the well established, famous and less expensive wine, Penfolds Grange.)

The new wine costs a staggering (wait for it) $168,000 per bottle, but to offset the price is a promise of exclusivity with only twelve bottles available for world wine release.

I should not really call it a bottle as this rare wine is delivered in a special handmade ampoule.

To give it its full name, the wine in question is Penfolds 2004 Kalimna Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon, and to give some justification to the price, it is no ordinary cab sav.

The Ultimate Rare Expensive Wine from Penfolds

The red wine is made from grapes grown on 130-year-old vines planted by George Swan Fowler in the Kalimna Vineyard in the Barossa Valley.

These vines are the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon plantings produced in the world and were planted only 30 years after the 1855 Bordeaux Classification.

The fruit was handpicked and fermented in new 300 litre oak hogsheads before it underwent 13 months barrel fermentation in 2004.

The vineyard that the fruit was picked from is owned by one person and no one else can make a Cabernet using the fruit off these vines.

What also adds to the mystique, and perhaps decadence of this wine, is the container in which it is bottled.

The ampoule is in effect a time capsule keeping the wine in pristine condition until it is ready to drink. Included in the price is the memorable experience of having a senior member of the Penfolds winemaking team attend a special opening ceremony for the wine owner.

The winemaker will travel to any destination and ceremoniously remove the ampoule from its casing and open it using a specially designed tungsten-tipped sterling silver scribe-snap.

The wine will then be prepared using a beautifully crafted sterling silver tastevin.

The hand-blown glass sculpture that holds the wine and the Jarrah cabinet that encases it were designed to store the wine in the ideal environment. Read the full article on the Penfolds ultimate wine.

To allow a fair allocation of the wine amongst the world’s billionaire population, any country is limited to only one or two bottles. But then again if a billionaire really wanted one, or the entire dozen, I am sure it could be arranged.

There is no denying that such a product is the ultimate in wine product and packaging, and in that regard the wine maker has excelled.

But as wine has grown in popularity and affordability over recent decades, I wonder if a product like this, and the extravaganza which surrounded its release is such a good thing for the wine market in general. It serves to reinforce the traditional snobbery associated with wine drinking which manufacturers around the world have been trying to dispel for ages.

I would never deny those with legally accumulated wealth to spend it however they wish, and I accept there will always be luxury products which are affordable to only a few.

But I wonder if such rare and expensive wine is nothing but folly  especially considering the current global downturn? What do you think? Leave your comments below.

If you are ready to consider some reasonably priced quality wines then check out the superb range at the largest online wine retailer,

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