12 February 2020. Words by Anna Webster.
If you’re interested in wine, particularly fine wine, you’ve almost definitely come across Langton’s. But unless you’re regularly flipping ‘Hill of Grace’ or ‘Grange’, chances are you’re not completely across exactly what they do, or how they can help you track down some rare Aussie wines at very decent prices.
What is it?
Founded in 1988 in Melbourne by Stewart Langton, Langton’s is an Australian fine wine marketplace, comprising a specialist auction house, a brokerage and an online merchant. It also publishes the Langton’s Classification – a form guide to the country’s best wines.
The Langton’s Classification
Uniquely in the world of wine, and wine guides specifically, Langton’s Classification is completely customer driven. Instead of an expert panel determining what the best wines in the country are, customers, who are mostly private collectors, sell and buy wines through Langton’s online marketplace. The Langton’s team then analyse the auction data and categorise the top-performing wines as either Exceptional, Outstanding or Excellent.
It works, says Tamara Grischy, Langton’s Head of Auctions, because it reflects the sentiment of informed consumers. “It’s not based on my opinion, or just one opinion – it’s based on the opinion of our entire community,” she says. “And because we’re in that top end of the market, our customers are very, very knowledgeable on wine, so they’re well suited to define it.”
Any Australian wine with a minimum of 10 vintages and a track record in the secondary market is eligible for inclusion in the Classification, although not all make the grade: a wine has to be pretty special for it to be coveted that badly by collectors. Of the over 10,000 wines produced in Australia per year, only 130 made the most recent Classification.
Tamara Grischy, Langton’s head of auctions
As well as publishing a guide to the country’s best wines, Langton’s also sell some of the country’s best wines both through their online store and through auctions. All the wines that come through Langton’s are valued and appraised by the team, which includes the likes of Grischy, who’s been with Langton’s for over two decades, and Andrew Caillard, a Master of Wine and partner in Langton’s. They’re then listed at a ‘buy now’ price on the online store, or as a price range at auction.
“At every auction, there’s potentially a number of lots of the same wine, same vintage, but there might be some variances in condition,” says Grischy. “Or, there might be a one-bottle lot or a six-bottle lot, so for each auction, we’ll list a low price, which is the lowest achieved, and a high price, which is the last sale price, to give our customers an idea of what’s previously been paid for that wine.”
If you’re not sure which vintage of a particular wine you should go for, the Langton’s team also pull together a yearly Vintage Chart by collecting and reviewing the vintages from Australia’s most important wine regions. Based on the weather conditions that had the most impact on the growing season and harvest in that region, that year, the regions are given a score out of 10. While not foolproof – it is possible for winemakers to produce excellent wines during difficult vintages – this comprehensive coverage means buying fine and rare wines through Langton’s is an even safer bet.
It might seem out of reach (a set of Penfolds ‘Grange’ recently sold for over $370,000 through auction), but prices literally start at $1. So if you’re after a rare back vintage, a 2010 Barolo you haven’t had to cellar yourself, you’re keen to start trading on the secondary wine market or you’re after a delicious bargain, consider a visit to Langton’s.
Langton’s are a partner of the Wineslinger Awards