THERE had been interest from as far abroad as Hong Kong, but in the end a retired couple from Adelaide’s west bought one of the most spectacular sets of wine ever seen in Australia for the record auction price of $260,360.
John and Leanne Davison sat quietly in the 50-strong crowd — which included Adelaide restaurant identities — at du Plessis auction house in Mile End for the highly anticipated sale of the complete set of Penfolds Grange.
Bidding started at $200,000 before auctioneer Mark du Plessis lowered his hammer on the couple’s bid of $230,000 (plus buyer’s margin), which earned wide applause.
An elated Mr Davison, a retired earthmoving contractor, bought the set as an investment for his four grandchildren.
He said he was pleased the South Australian wine, considered Australia’s most famous, was staying in its home state.
“It had to stay here, for sure,” the 71-year-old said.
“I am a collector and I’m very happy and excited about it, but the main thing is we’ve kept it here.
“Grange is iconic in South Australia.”
Mrs Davison, 70, said she was thrilled her husband was able to buy the set, especially after he missed the chance once before.
“He could have bought one about 10 years ago, but I didn’t remind him (the auction) was on and one of his friends bought it instead and he didn’t speak to me for three months,” she said with a laugh.
“I didn’t have to remind him this morning.”
Mr du Plessis said the rare collection had been pieced together over 25 years by an Adelaide building industry figure who was an avid wine collector.
The sale lot contained 62 bottles stretching from the first experimental 1951 vintage made by Grange’s creator Max Schubert through to the latest release 2012 vintage made by current Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago — which was rated 99/100 points in the latest Halliday Wine Companionreleased last week.
The growth in value of full Grange sets is difficult to track given their extreme rarity. In 1988 a then set from 1952-1982 sold for a record Australian price of $16,500. In 2002 a full collection, then from 1951-1996 vintages, sold for $190,680.
“Interest came from everywhere from Hong Kong to interstate, but I’m very happy it stayed here,” Mr du Plessis said.
Mr Davison — a keen wine collector who has three-quarters of another Grange set building in his cellar — said he would keep this one until his youngest grandchild, now aged 11, turned 21 and would then sell it to help out the grandkids.
So for all those who missed out this time, expect to see this set back on the market in another 10 years.