A MILLIONAIRE Chinese gambler splurged almost $190,000 in cash on dozens of bottles of expensive wine in a whirlwind visit to Penfolds’ cellar door.
After enjoying a windfall at the Adelaide Casino, the Shanghai businessman and three friends visited the acclaimed winery’s Magill Estate retail shop last weekend.
Having quaffed some of its finest, the man – here on a so-called “whale mission” or big spending tour – went on a buying frenzy, purchasing more than 200 bottles of Grange and other fine drops.
The final bill? An eye-watering $187,750 paid entirely with crisp $100 bills after a night out at the casino’s high roller room.
Wine experts said the haul of mostly heritage-listed Grange, included some of the best wines produced this century.
While the receipt, right, included almost $17,100 in taxes, he had nearly $22,370 in discounts. Witnesses told of their shock when the businessman, aged in his early 50s, pulled 18 bundles of green notes from a plain black plastic bag, just after midday last Sunday.
The millionaire, part of a private tour operator’s four-day “junket”, told staff he had “won fresh from the Casino” – believed from playing the popular Baccarat card game, which Chinese gamblers favour because of the better odds and hours they can sit gambling. It is understood he didn’t want to send the money home.
Amounts above $10,000 have to be declared by law.
“They were very big piles of cash, it just kept coming,” one witness said.
“We were then wondering at what point was he going to stop spending.
“It took four people to count the money. It was a nice day out.”
His collection included 40 bottles of Penfold’s 2009 Grange vintage, which received extensive international acclaim, as well as cases of its popular 2012 and 2013 years.
He purchased a collection of “vertical vintages” – dating back to 1963 – or what winemakers describe as bottles from consecutive years.
His batch, understood to be en route to Hong Kong, also included 16, Grange 1500ml magnums, or double its normal size. He also splurged on a smaller collection of highly regarded Penfolds icon reds including 2004 Block 42, which retails for $1200 each and 1945 Grandfather tawny port. For good measure he threw in several of the finest vintages of St Henri bottles made over the past 50 years.
Official figures show Chinese tourism is worth $389 million every year.
More than 60,000 visits were made by Chinese tourists last year. Tourism Minister David Ridgway last night said there was “huge potential … to capitalise on the lucrative Chinese tourism market”.
“We know they have an insatiable appetite for … premium food, wine and tourism offerings,” he said.
A casino spokesman declined to speak about specific clients but added: “International business brings millions of dollars into the state’s economy and that’s good news for tourism. It’s great to see our customers enjoying themselves.’’
A Penfolds spokeswoman declined to comment last night
story by news.com.au