Wine is becoming a lucrative investment in Australia according to new research by Langtons Fine Wine Auctions.

The company's analysis of recent prices shows that wine has consistently outperformed the Australian All Ords share market over the last six years with wine values increasing by between 30% and 250% over the last four years.

And on Saturday a batch of Penfolds Grange was sold for a world record A$159,000.

"I think these figures show that wine investment in this country has become a valid concept," said Langtons director Andrew Caillard at the Wine Australia 2000 exhibition in Melbourne.

The investment market is now worth about $20m a year which is still a tiny part of the $2bn Australian wine industry but it shows a maturity and quality of wine that is more important than the financial sums," says Caillard.

"The quality of Australian wines has risen exponentially in the last 10 years thanks to technological improvements in trellising systems and yeast technology and barrel fermentation.

"There have also been mythologies rising about certain wines and regions which has given a respect to our wines and people have begun to see Australian wines for their regional variations rather than just as a product of the country.

"This means the wine market in Australia is maturing and is being taken seriously for the quality of the products, which is very important.

"The market will become bigger and more influential which is good for Australian wine."

For those looking for wine investments in Australia Caillard offers this advice; the classics like Penfolds Grange are always going to carry a premium but avoid the '95 and '97 vintages. Go for '98 wines from all Australian producers in South and Eastern states because Caillard believes this is the year that will "put Australia on the map".