A bidding frenzy has greeted the opening of the biggest wine auction in Australia’s history, with wines including Henschke’s Hill of Grace and Penfolds Grange starting at AUS$9.
The AUS$2.5m online auction features 55,000 bottles of fine wine, including multiple vintages of Grange and Hill of Grace salvaged from collapsed wine investment company Heritage Fine Wines – with a starting price of AUS$9 per lot.
‘The auction opened at 7am today and we had bids one second later,’ Mark Kehoe, director of GraysOnline auction house, told decanter.com
Kehoe estimates the total value of the wine at AUS$2.5m, but expects bargain hunters will snap up bottles for half that. As well as collectable wines from Moss Wood, Clarendon Hills, Torbreck, Petaluma and others, the auction includes vintage Champagne, including Roederer Cristal, and private label wines.
This is the first of several such auctions, as close to 1m such bottles will be sold over the next six months.
Heritage Fine Wines, founded by Simon Farid and Ben Tilley in 1999, went into administration in March 2005. Investors poured AUS$70m into the business, hoping to cash in on the cult wine craze. A crisis in market confidence led to the collapse of the company, leaving more than 1.4m bottles in storage.
‘Of the 3,000 investors, roughly half were superannuation funds,’ said Nicholas Crouch of Crouch Insolvency, the liquidator.
The current sale consists of three separate online auctions, two of which began today. The third begins on 13 June.
‘The orders will only be fulfilled into Australia,’ said Kehoe. He added there was nothing to stop overseas buyers from asking a local to register and bid on their behalf.
Written by Felicity Carter