The 2008 vintage of the prestigious Penfolds Grange will be released globally on Thursday, but it has already become a plaything of cut-price online sites. For the first time a slew of local and overseas websites are competing with traditional retailers such as Dan Murphy's, Australia's biggest liquor chain, the likes of Vintage Cellars and independents.
Hong Kong website www.slurp.asia is leading a pack of international sites with a price of $525.89 per bottle.
''Nothing could have prepared us for the 2008 Grange. This is - and make no mistake - the single greatest wine (newly released) that we have ever tasted,'' the Asian e-tailer's marketing says for its Grange sale.
A Californian retailer has an online deal of $584.20 for a bottle of the 2008 Grange and is rated the second-cheapest in the world for the Australian wine, according to a price tracking site for wine. It is followed by two German sites and an online retailer in Switzerland offering a price of about $600.
The knock-down prices are up to a 25 per cent discount to the recommended retail price of $784.99 issued by Penfolds owner, Treasury Wine Estates. Last year it was the predominantly bricks-and-mortar retailers led by supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles that fought it out for the cheapest Grange, with US discount retailer Costco also making a play for the lowest price on the big day.
That battle for the 2007 Grange saw hundreds of dollars stripped from the RRP as the traditional retailers clashed for customer attention.
But this year is expected to be especially cut-throat after the 2008 Grange received a perfect score of 100 from influential US wine magazine Wine Advocate, the first Grange to attract the accolade in 40 years.
Penfolds global brand business director Sandy Mayo said there was an ''unprecedented level of demand'' from all over the world, with particular pitches for more supply from Europe, Britain and Asia. This allowed Penfolds this month to lift the recommended retail price by $160.