But is it worth $785 25 per cent more than the previous vintage? Of course not. But, at the sharp end, wine price is about many things other than what's in the bottle, and Grange is merely keeping up with the rest of the world.
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The hype was further flamed by a respected international wine critic awarding the vintage a score of 100 out of 100, the first time in 40 years the label had carried such a score, while demand for a bottle was intensified by limited supply and Penfolds exporting a greater quantity to offshore markets, especially China who has fallen in love with our classic wine.
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Other retailers followed; Kemenys offered $645 online and wine auction house Langton's (owned by Woolworths) reportedly sold all its 40 cases immediately at a price of $645 a bottle.
Retailers yesterday triggered a price war over who could offer the lowest price for the 2008 Grange with Woolworths owned Dan Murphy's first out of the blocks at 5am with a price of $669 well below the RRP of $785.
Reviewed by Huon Hooke
With the kind of buzz, excitement and anticipation usually reserved for the arrival of a pop star or a royal birth, the launch in the early hours of Thursday morning of the 2008 Grange grabbed the attention of drinkers and wine buffs worldwide.
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Label stands test of time
release of one of the world's most prestigious and luxurious wines, Penfolds Grange, with retailers in Australia battling it out in a race to have the cheapest price for the 2008 vintage of the iconic drop.
Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago told the The Age that after Grey Converse High Tops Size 3
Not to be outdone, rival 1st Choice, owned by Coles, matched it but then both were beaten by US discount supermarket Costco which slapped on a price tag of $649.99. Dan Murphy's and 1st Choice lowered their price to meet Costco, but then Costco dropped its price again to $645. By the afternoon Dan Murphy's dropped its price to $645 too.
It was a more dignified Converse White Womens High Tops affair in South Australia a state whose motto is ''class'' where at the spiritual home of Penfolds Grange, the Magill Estate Winery, a simple bell was rung as the sun came up over the vineyards and the cellar door was opened to the public to purchase and taste the 2008 vintage.
he first inspected the grapes for the 2008 vintage he knew he had something special. ''Right through the winemaking process we thought we had a very good wine. Is it worth 100 points? Well, that's for others to say, but a number of respected wine magazines have given it a perfect score.''
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Grange may no longer be Australia's greatest wine there are many pretenders to that title these days, including from Penfolds' own stable but it maintains and embellishes its superb record. That record stretches back in an unbroken line to 1951, which no other Australian wine can boast. If anything, it's better than ever the quality of the tannins finer and the oak barrels of better quality, resulting in more subtle oak flavours.
Penfolds Grange is regarded as Australia's greatest wine, and the 2008 vintage is one of the best, alongside 2006, 1996 and 1990. The impressive things about Grange are its power and its ability to build great complexity of flavour over many years of cellaring. The top vintages age well for 50 years, and the '08 will be one of those. The full payoff is the wonderful aroma and flavour nuances that build over time, and this one needs 15 to 20 years, minimum.
Grange sparks bidding war
Mr Gago was unperturbed by the bidding war. ''That's the forces of supply and demand. I still look at the price of a lot of first growth Bordeaux wines, and we are very competitive when compared with them.''
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