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Spotlight On: Grange 1998

John Siudut
Posted: August 16, 2007

Grange, one of Australia's best wines, was created in 1951 by Penfolds' then-winemaker Max Schubert, who was obsessed with creating a world-class wine out of Shiraz. While the wine consistently earns high scores, prices at auction have remained relatively stagnant. An index of Grange auction results, including all vintages from 1990 to 2001, shows that the value of the wine has barely kept up with the rate of inflation, gaining only 11% in value over the past four years. In comparison, the value of the Wine Spectator Auction Index has doubled during that same time period.

There is one distinct exception among the Grange vintages: the 1998 (99 points). Released in 2003 at a price of $205, it first appeared at auction in the 2nd quarter of 2003, garnering an average bottle price of $283. After trading up and down between $260 and $311 for the first two years, it has finally broken out. In the past year and a half, the wine has escalated in value and is approaching an average of $400 a bottle with some recent sales flirting with the $500 mark. At Acker Merrall & Condit's April 21 sale, a six-pack lot of the 1998 brought in $2,868, or $478 a bottle.

If these prices seem prohibitive, there is certainly plenty of outstanding and classic-rated Grange that can be had for half the price. The 1996 is a prime example -- it was released at $195 a bottle and rated 97 points by Harvey Steiman in 2001. Latest prices for the wine have ranged between $179 and $215 a bottle -- a veritable bargain compared to release prices of recent vintages.

This data comes from the Wine Spectator Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions. The prices have been indexed to 100 beginning in the first quarter of 2003. This chart plots the index value of the Wine Spectator Auction Index against the index values of the following: Grange 1998 and Grange from vintages of 1990-2001.

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