This week Australian wine producer Penfolds unveiled at Hong Kong’s Vinexpo a global program that, for the first time in its 172-year history, allows consumers to buy an entire barrel of rare wine directly from the winery.
There are various ways to buy wine, which unless you’re a wine négociant the most common being a bottle off the shelf at a wine retail outlet, or at a restaurant to pair with your meal. Those fine wine merchants, of course, have the option of buying wines from Bordeaux producers en primeur, or wine futures, where they get a specific vintage while it is still in the barrel. They then sell them on to consumers.
Penfolds’ announcement of its Magill Cellar 3 barrel program is its version of en primeur for the regular consumer, where those with sophisticated palates and fat wallets can directly purchase out of an albeit limited and variable number of rare barrels from its Cellar 3 in Magill, South Australia. Each vintage release will reflect the Penfolds’ house style in blending Shiraz and/or Cabernet, with its expected, attendant quality.
Aside from access to purchasing barrels, the Magill Cellar 3 barrel program is also a sort of VIP membership that unlocks special access to the inner workings at Penfolds. Barrel owners get invited to witness behind-the-scenes winemaking processes, and more importantly for some, unique tasting experiences at Magill Estate, Penfolds’ spiritual home.
Cellar 3 at Magill Estate, from where the rare barrels are being offered in the program, is Penfolds’ oldest and most intimate cellar. The nineteenth century cellar dates back to the founding days of the winery, established in 1844.
“This exquisite barrel release goes beyond the wine, offering unprecedented access to the inner workings of our winemaking craft and culture at Penfolds – unmatched, unparalleled – a first,” declares Peter Gago, Penfolds Chief Winemaker.
As you can probably imagine, special rare barrels from the makers of Australia’s most desired wine range the Penfolds Grange don’t come cheap – the sale price for the Magill Cellar 3 program comes in at a whopping A$198,000, or just over S$196,000. If you think that sounds insane, the inaugural 2015 Magill Cellar 3 barrel release has already been fully committed to private collectors. But if you have fat wads of cash lying around that you think can be put to better use converted to delicious wine, Penfolds is currently accepting expression of interest for the 2016 release.