I’ve just discovered a fascinating press release that I missed a few weeks back.
It’s trumpeting the release of the brand-new Mount Ophir Shiraz 2019 that will be released next week for an astonishing $500/bottle.
There is a great story here though…
Mount Ophir Estate itself dates back to 1891, with this grand Rutherglen estate rising to be one of Victoria’s most prominent wine producers (with impressive ‘French provincial buildings’) by the early 1900s. Sadly the property was sold in the fifties, with a small 3ha plot replanted in the 1990s when the buildings were turned into a BnB.
More recently, Angela, Eliza & Nick Brown (of All Saints & St Leonards Vineyard) purchased the property and set about revitalising the grand old buildings while relaunching the brand.
This Mount Ophir Shiraz 2019 then serves as the official wine restart – a $500 halo for the label and a way to get people talking. Mission accomplished.
In some ways, this is just obviously clever marketing. The Brown’s are apt marketers (and good people, I’ve got no beef with them), so I’m not surprised. It’s not a huge liability either, as with just 0.5ha of Shiraz vines you might get 3 tonnes of grapes in Rutherglen, which translates to just 2100 litres of wine, or circa 218 dozen. So if it doesn’t sell at $500 a pop, it doesn’t matter all that much. It’s being offered as a pre-release to drum up interest, which serves as an acquisition/hype tool too.
Yet does it actually need to be $500 to make a statement?
Outside of the heritage factor, there isn’t that much to get excited about. Nick Brown is a good winemaker, but you can buy his All Saints 1920 Old Vine Shiraz for $80 to experience what he can do with Shiraz. The Mount Opher vines aren’t anywhere near that old either, the vineyard having lost its 1891 plantings. Further, the terroir seems more celebrated for Rutherglen, but it’s not vaunted. It’s all a bit emperor’s new clothers for me, as you’re getting a nod to history for a price that is 7-10 times what you’d pay for premium Rutherglen Shiraz.
In conclusion, while value is subjective, there’s a missing element here to justify the expense for mine, as $500 buys a shitload of good Australian Shiraz. Having not tasted the wine (and not likely to have a chance) I can’t comment on the quality, so that’s the outlier. That said, $500 can buy you four bottles of Clonakilla’s new 2019 Syrah which has (arguably) four times the pedigree and the same mid-weight Syrah/Shiraz intentions. You’ll even get enough leftover to buy a bottle of the delicious All Saints Muscat as well.
I know what I’d choose.
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