The rich are different from you and me, as Fitzgerald apocryphally observed to Hemingway (who reportedly shot back, “yes, they have more money”). They also have, all too often, appallingly bad taste. Like their cousins down at the very bottom end of the ladder, they dress and behave as they wish, because they don’t have to show up for a job like normal people and they probably wouldn’t want to either. Where once this phenomenon manifested itself in harmless eccentricities like “go to hell pants”, one sad side effect of the democratisation of wealth has been the ruination of any number of luxury brands from Bentley (once the understated option for those who thought Rollers too flashy, they’re now nothing but six-figure pimpmobiles for the high-living lowlife) to Burberry. And brand execs are at a loss for what to do about it. The customer always right, and to suggest otherwise can, if one is not careful, quickly become the fastest ticket to being tagged “racist” one can think of short of asking, “Why does Michelle Obama seem so angry all the time?”
Thus operating on the theory that if you can’t beat them join them, the
PR whores winemakers at Penfolds are getting in on the act. Let’s go to the Daily Mail, shall we?
The world’s most expensive bottle of wine has gone on sale for a staggering £109,000 [~ $168,000] – making the cost of just one small 150ml glass of this rare tipple a bank-breaking £21,000.
Australian winery Penfolds has released 12 special bottles of the 2004 Block 42’ Cabernet Sauvignon – a rare single-vineyard wine which is only released in stellar vintages.
The Block 42 vines were transported from France to Australia in the 1830s and are now located in South Australia’s Barossa Valley, northeast of Adelaide.
Well, OK, so far so good – though it is hard to imagine that the stuff could be that good (the regular edition normally sells with a hefty, but not crippling, mid-three figure price tag). But the fact is,this bottling could taste like cat’s piss mixed with Red Dye #5 and no one would be the wiser: Unlike the regular Block 42 release, this is not stuff to be drunk, nor even to be collected (like, say, great Burgundies or Bordeaux or Penfolds’ own classic Grange). No, it is to be displayed in vulgarians’ lounge rooms as proof reified of their culture and sophistication, all the while reinforcing the luxury-status-Penfolds connection in the heads of those who otherwise might call fruity lexia “a bloody ripper of a drop!”:
The ampoule is designed to provide the ideal environment for the wine – and even the most cavalier of millionaires cannot just whip the top off the bottle and quaff the contents.
Penfolds’ chief winemaker Peter Gago said that if any buyer wished to drink the exclusive wine, an expert would travel to wherever the buyer was in the world and open and decant the ampoule using bespoke equipment in a special ceremony.
You’ve heard of “footballers’ wives”? This stuff ought to be called footballers’ wine. It’s not the world’s most expensive wine, it’s the world’s most expensive wine bottle. One would expect that had this been released a few years ago, the anti-hero of Martin Amis’s Lionel Asbo would have picked up a bottle. Penfolds ought to stick to juice; fifteen or twenty years ago when it was affordable their Bin 389 made a callow Prick put away the childish beers and spirits of youth and take up a long-running affair with the grape. Tabloid marketing gimmicks like this make this older and wiser Prick less than enthusiastic about eventually pulling the corks on some of the little Penfolds back-catalogue he has shepherded together over the years. But I think I’ll get over it.