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Penfolds' chief winemaker reveals secret to perfect plonk after Grange red sold for $103,555

Penfolds’ chief winemaker has revealed the secrets behind their popular wine after one bottle of red recently sold for a record $103,555.

A mystery Melbourne buyer bought the ultra-rare 1951 Penfolds Bin 1 Grange, from South Australia, for the princely sum during an online auction on June 29.

The hefty price means a single standard glass of the wine would cost more than $20,500, making it Australia’s most expensive ever wine.

Peter Gago, who has been the chief winemaker for 31 years, said several factors including the quality of grapes and the right bottling equipment are all ingredients to Penfolds’ ‘secret sauce.’ 

Penfolds' chief winemaker said many technological advances have made producing wine a more streamlined process but what hasn't changed is how their wine (pictured) is created

Penfolds’ chief winemaker said many technological advances have made producing wine a more streamlined process but what hasn’t changed is how their wine (pictured) is created

Penfolds (pictured) is a world-renowned winemaker in South Australia and now boasts the county's most expensive plonk

Penfolds (pictured) is a world-renowned winemaker in South Australia and now boasts the county’s most expensive plonk

Mr Gago said while many industry experts talk about the importance of picking grapes at the right time, he believes that is only the first step in making a bottle of delicious wine. 

‘Well the time of bottling the wine is as important as when to pick the grapes,’ Mr Gago told Business Insider.

‘There are hundreds of decision making processes along the winemaking track and if you get it right, you can do something quite magical.’ 

He said many technological advances have made producing wine a more streamlined process but what hasn’t changed is how Penfolds’ wine is created.

‘The basic fermentation process has never changed. It’s still a conversion by yeast of grape sugars into a finished wine,’ he said.  

Peter Gago (pictured) said several factors including the quality of grapes and the right bottling equipment are ingredients to Penfolds' 'secret sauce'

Peter Gago (pictured) said several factors including the quality of grapes and the right bottling equipment are ingredients to Penfolds’ ‘secret sauce’

Mr Gago said lots of people in the industry talk about the importance of picking grapes at the right time but it is more complex (pictured, a Penfolds vineyard in South Australia)

Mr Gago said lots of people in the industry talk about the importance of picking grapes at the right time but it is more complex (pictured, a Penfolds vineyard in South Australia)

Langton’s Head of Auctions Tamara Grischy, who carried out the record sale, told Daily Mail Australia the ultra-rare wine was highly sought after by collectors.

‘This is a historic vintage, and represents the beginning of modern Australian wine,’ he said.

‘This is the first vintage of Australia’s most renowned wine, and Penfolds Grange was a wine that Penfolds first chief winemaker Max Schubert made 69 years ago as an experiment.’

Penfolds spreads its business across multiple vineyards, allowing it to make a diverse array of wines such as Shiraz, Cabernet and Chardonnay. 

A mystery Melbourne buyer bought the ultra-rare 1951 Penfolds Bin 1 Grange (pictured), from South Australia, for the princely sum during an online auction last week

A mystery Melbourne buyer bought the ultra-rare 1951 Penfolds Bin 1 Grange (pictured), from South Australia, for the princely sum during an online auction last week

Penfolds (pictured) spreads its business across multiple vineyards, allowing it to make a diverse array of wines such as Shiraz, Cabernet and Chardonnay

Penfolds (pictured) spreads its business across multiple vineyards, allowing it to make a diverse array of wines such as Shiraz, Cabernet and Chardonnay

Ms Grischy said its Grange range was a constant hit with collectors.

‘Another reason the 1951 Penfolds Grange is so coveted is because collectors need it to complete their sets, which means collections with every vintage made of Penfolds Grange, and the sets are very rare,’ he explained.

‘A set of Penfolds Grange with vintages from 1951 to 2015 was sold for $372,800 in December 2019 in the Langton’s Rewards of Patience Auction, a world record amount.

More than 1,000 bottles of Penfolds wines were sold during the latest auction.

A 1952 Grange sold for $46,601 and a 1970 Grange went for $3,501 – records for both sets of wines.

The 1951 Penfolds that sold for $103,555 beat the previous 2018 record when the same wine was sold for $81,550.

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