Here’s a few alternatives to the under a fiver supermarket plonks. Three very expensive wines.
When an enterprising young man named James Christie opened his sales rooms in London in December 1766. His first auction consisted of the estate of a “deceased nobleman” containing “a large Quantity of Madeira and high Flavour’d Claret.” The records don’t relate how much these delightfully described “high Flavour’d Clarets” fetched, but as the whole sale realised a grand total £175, it is a sure bet that if Christie had known that just over two hundred years later, in 1985, his now famous auction house would sell one bottle of wine for £105,000, he might have held back a bottle or two to enrich his future heirs.
This bottle was a Bordeaux, a 1787 Chateau Lafite. Its great age alone would have ensured a good price but what gave it its special cachet, especially to American collectors, and ensured the record price tag, were the initials Th.J. etched in the glass – the bottle had belonged to Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and one of the most revered of its founding fathers.
In 2010 a buyer from Asia bought three bottles of 1869 vintage Chateau Lafite-Rothschild at a bargain price of £163,000 per bottle.
Proving that wine does not have to be old to be valuable. In 2013, another Asian buyer bought a limited bottle of the highly rated 2009 vintage for £120,000.
A precious bottle of 1811 Château d’Yquem has became the world’s most valuable bottle of white wine, after it was sold for £75,000.
The 200-year-old bottle had to go through rigorous checks to establish status. The bottle was accompanied by a record of inspection. The label was examined and compared to the 1811 paper labels held in the files at the chateau. An inspection of the glass bottle confirmed that the shape, punt (for those who don’t know is also known as a kick-up, refers to the dimple at the bottom of a wine bottle) and colour appeared to be in accordance with other examples previously seen from the early vintages of the 19th century.
Christian Vanneque purchased the rare bottle for his new restaurant, SIP Sunset Grill in Bali, Indonesia, launched in September 2011.