It seems that Penfolds is selling twelve ‘bottles’ of wine made exclusively from Cabernet Sauvignon vines grown on the Kalimna Estate in a section called ‘Block 42′. This is awesome news, as I visited this vineyard a couple months back and the vines are beautiful ancient trunks which most believe to be the oldest living Cabernet vines on the planet. Except there’s more. The wine wont be sold in bottles at all, but rather ampoules; vessels which are hand-blown by a famous Australian glass maker and the wine will rest entirely enclosed in glass. This sidesteps the favourite Australian past time of debating closures all together and none of the buyers of these twelve bottle will need worry about cork taint or premature oxidation. Despite that the ampoule looks like it should be hanging in some future laboratory with a plaque that says ‘break glass in need of emergency transfusion’, I like the concept of a cork-less bottle. When you decide that the wine has aged enough, a senior winemaker will appear with a special tool and release the wine from its tomb for you and your friends to drink. Sounds pretty cool, hey? Oh, also, it costs $168,000.
My shot of Steph Dutton standing in Block 42.
You can’t exactly fault the Penfolds team for this massive marketing campaign which will undoubtedly help them sell the twelve most expensive bottles ever released from a winery. They’ve spent 60 years becoming a brand that people flock to when buying both a cheap $10 bottle of wine and a prestigious luxury bottle worth $600. Not many wineries in the world can stake that claim. What I think is most interesting in this story, is that the $168,000 juice released from a winery whose fame rests on multi-regional blends, comes from just a single vineyard. Too bad the majority of us will never get to taste it.