When it comes to pricey wine investments, stupendously expensive doesn’t even begin to describe the Penfolds Ampoule. One of 12 limited-edition sculptural wine vessels crafted by four top artists to contain the wine producer’s 2004 Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon, each ampoule, or container, fetches about $174,000.
So what is it exactly? The ampoule containing this particularly rare wine was created by master glassblower Ray Leake, while the glass object encasing it — a grey glass plumb-bob with a blood-red “cotton reel” top — is the handiwork of glass artist Nick Mount. The ampoule and sculpture is then suspended in a custom-made Jarrah cabinet by furniture-maker Andrew Bartlett, with precious metal detailing work by Hendrik Foster.
There’s more to it than just 100-point wine in a collaboratively handmade objet d’art. “Uncorking” the ampoule requires an entire opening service, complete with a visit from a Penfolds winemaker who will ceremoniously remove and unseal the ampoule. Why anyone would actually want to do that is beyond us, as this seems more like a piece of art that happens to contain wine, rather than wine contained in a dispensable piece of art. But to each his own…each one of 12, at least.