Penfolds Targets China’s Aspiring Wine Aficionado With $176,000 “Ampoule”

750 mL Wine “Ampoule” Touted As Perfect For Aging

Penfolds will only sell 12 "Ampoules"

Its second major overture to the fast-growing China wine market in less than a year — after choosing Shanghai for its first Bin 620 release in nearly half a century last fall — top Australian winemaker Penfolds recently debuted a limited-edition wine aimed at drinkers who have, depending on how you look at it, either the most discriminating tastes or more money than sense. Contained within a custom-made 750 mL glass capsule, Penfolds’ intrepid new “ampoule” of 2004 Kalimna Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon is being promoted globally to cashed-up wine buyers as an ideal vessel for aging.

Absent a screwtop or cork, the glass-blown ampoule is, as Penfolds winemaker Stephanie Dutton put it at a tasting for Chinese wine drinkers, “a little bit of an experiment…filled with a wine that is incredibly rare.” The vines producing Penfolds’ Kalimna Block 42 Cab Sauv are, according to Dutton, some of the oldest continuously producing Cabernet vines in the world, planted in the 1880s.

Naturally, this experiment won’t come cheap. Limited to only 12 bottles worldwide, with one remaining in the Penfolds museum, the special edition ampoule will run at a cool US$176,000. But considering some of the limited-edition products that have found Chinese buyers in recent years — from gold-and-diamond studded “revolutionary” pocket watches to golden dragon-festooned Ferraris and tank-like SUVs — we wouldn’t be surprised to see at least one Chinese wine lover splash out for Penfolds’ latest and greatest.


Market Analysis, Marketing