Buying Grange – Little Change

Scene: Two politicians are dining in a flash restaurant.

Waiter: “And a red with main course sir?”

Host: “Yes. We’d like two glasses of the new Penfolds Grange 2008 please.”

Waiter: “I should warn sir that this is a very expensive wine.”

Host: “Like how much?”

Waiter: “Well, lemme see. A bottle would cost you one thousand five hundred and seventy dollars.”

Host: “Two teaspoons then.”

Waiter: “Umm. Take away one, carry the two. Yes that’ll cost you twenty two dollars.”

Host smiles and winks: “Don’t worry about the cost! Government credit card doncha know. In fact, make that two tablespoons.”

Waiter thinks: “Mmm, eighty four bucks!” Thinks again, “Hope they tip generously.” Exits via kitchen door, stage left.

Preposterous? No. The recently released Grange has a recommended retail price of $784.99*. Very few restaurants add less than a 100% mark-up to the retail price of wines so our pollies’ bottle will cost at least $1570, i.e. close enough to $2.10 per millilitre. (*Why do they use used car pricing techniques for prestige wine? Would it really deter any buyers if the price were rounded up to $785?)

Is Grange worth the money? Is a Lamborghini worth $300,000+ more than a Mini? If you’re loaded and into conspicuous consumption it really doesn’t matter. Though – as reported in The Australian – it seems that ordinary wine drinkers prefer a $17 Robert Oatley Shiraz to the newly released über-wine.

I suspect that the astronomical price will deter most wine lovers and that likely buyers will include corporate types, merchant bankers and frackin’ mining magnates. (NB These latter two are interchangeable for the most part.)

Grange however, is undoubtedly a great wine and I’ve been lucky enough taste quite a few of the vintages, even a counterfeit one. I bought the occasional bottle years ago when the label was admittedly expensive but vaguely affordable. Some were from friends’ cellars. Most however were tasted courtesy of Penfolds. All stand out in my memory as classics by any standard.

Trouble is, Grange is no longer just a fine wine. It has become, (gasp!), a Penfolds marketing icon.

Accordingly, I predict that the next release will cost an eye-watering $1000. Even at that price, it will no doubt be sold out to cashed–up bogans – and Penfolds will achieve yet another international marketing triumph.

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