Beneath the Label
During the expansion of wine investment in the “00’s, if you wanted to diversify a portfolio with some new world wine, Penfolds was a frontrunner for inclusion. At the time it was cheap relative to its old-world counterparts and with a string of big Parker scores, the estate had an aura of being both up and coming and exotic.
Critic Score: 98+ Points – Parker
The bombastic style of the wine played to Parker’s palate.
Region Rating: S. Australia – 95TE
A top score by any region’s standards.
Drinking Window: 2009 – 2039
These wines at 15% alcohol and 97% Shiraz are muscular and capable of big age.
Production Volume: 9,000 cases
For comparison, this is slightly below the average Bordeaux production but it is certainly not to be considered as niche or rare out of the gate.
At the time of release, this was a great case to include in a portfolio for the purposes of diversification. It was relatively unknown and of extremely high quality, in a time when the powerful style of the wine was all the rage. It was an aligning of stars that saw Grange grow in popularity and price in equal measure.
Brand Power: 84/100, rank 42nd in BiBO Brand Power Metric
The brand has grown in size and global reach. However, this combined with Penfolds commercial decision to produce numerous lower quality iterations, the brand has suffered from dilution.
It is an item that can be sold quickly thanks to high levels of price transparency, but normally a good spread beneath the market. The market prices for these wines are now quite significant for an Aussie Shiraz.
Inter-Trade Price Volatility: 6.8%
Released cheap, gained excitement and the price rose, then as the price begins to represent quality a subsequent plateau.
Clearly, Penfolds back at the turn of the millennia was a smart diversifying tool. A start-up like Estate with lots of upside from a wine whose quality was well beyond its relatively humble pricing. As the brand has proliferated around the world this key dynamic has become less and less potent. A combination of the wine no longer being seen as a new boy from Australia, and the Estate carving off a larger piece of the pie with raised release prices.
Position for Profit
The best way to illustrate both the price ceiling and the elevated release prices is to look at the prices of the very best aged Penfolds against those tipped for greatness.
2016 – 99 points – £4,140
2013 – 100 points – £4,600
2008 – 100 points – £5,150
2002 – 98+ points – £5,000
1998 – 98+ points – £4,500
It is clear that despite holding perfect scores the upside is likely to be capped at slightly above £5,000. A suggestion as to why, may be that wine tastes and trends have moved away from these big powerful wines in favour of refinement. The bombastic Parker years are certainly behind us and it feels as though the wine world has overcompensated in an attempt to move back to equilibrium to the detriment of quality wines such as these.
In summary, we would suggest avoiding these cases if you are building a portfolio. Equally, if you are holding cases of Grange it may be worth considering redistributing the capital.