Archive for March, 2010

Wine Book Review:Billionaire’s Vinegar

March 18, 2010


written by Michael Oudyn

In 1985 a bottle of 1787 Bordeaux wine is sold at Christie´s auction house for $156,000.   Benjamin Wallace tells the story. It starts with Thomas Jefferson, America´s third president and first world-class wine geek.  He is leisurely travelling through France´s major wine regions compulsively taking notes despite the awesome challenges facing his new country and the mounting turmoil of revolutionary Paris. At one point he methodically orders caseloads of the great wines of the time (Haut-Brion, Latour, Margaux, Lafite) but, due to the political chaos, they never arrive. Or do they? Fast forward to the 1980s. A substantial stash of 18th century wine is found in Jefferson´s old Paris neighborhood. The bottles are engraved with Jefferson´s initials (“Th. J.”).They find their way into the hands of secretive German wine expert Hardy Rodenstock who keeps the facts  hazy.  The resulting mystery gives rise to dark rumours of Nazi bunkers turned wine cellars and/or smuggling rings from Communist Russia. Of course none of this is in the catalog description, but it all adds to the mystique–and dollar value—of the Jefferson wines. At the auction Kip (more…)