Wine does strange things to people – and I don’t just mean when they have had too much to drink. People spend amazing amounts of money in pursuit of prestigious wines, which they may never drink.
I do understand this to a certain extent, but I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $90 on individual bottles of wine – which admittedly was worth a whole lot more when we finally drank them 20 years later, but I would never have paid the market value of several hundred dollars at the time we did finally enjoy them. But some are willing to pay a whole lot more.
The world’s most expensive wine is 1907 Heidsieck Champagne. Back in the early 1900s, much of the premium champagne from France was consumed by wealthy Russians and were shipped via the Baltic Sea. One such ship (and probably many more) was shipwrecked off the coast of Finland and was discovered by divers in 1997. Apparently these bottles of champagne have been well preserved and are available to buy at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow for the bargain price of $US275,000. The price is not reflective of the quality of the wine, but more for its story and age of the wine.
A bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite was sold at Christies Auctions in London in 1985 for $US160,000. Chateau Lafite is a historical French winery with a history going back to the 13th century. But again, the value of this wine was not so much about the quality of the famous red wine, but the story of its ownership. It was reported to be from the cellar of Thomas Jefferson, the former US President and had the initials THJ etched into the glass bottle.
This next one’s price tag was actually about the quality of the wine rather than the story. The 1945 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Jeroboam (Claret) is considered to be the finest vintage of the 20th century and was sold at auction for $US114,614 per bottle. Fifty years after vintage, the tasting notes describing the colour, bouquet, concentrated flavours, tannin and length remain the same as they did 10 years after vintage. The comment was “seemingly indestructable”. Sounds pretty dreamy!
Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1951 ranks pretty highly in the world’s most expensive wines. This was the first Grange vintage and wasn’t released commercially, as it was purely experimental and only 160 cases were produced. All reviews indicate that this wine is well past its peak for drinking, so the value again is more about the story and the historical significance. A bottle of this is valued at $AUD50,000.
These are the wines that the wine writers and auction houses help to promote and subsequently boosts their value. I know there are amazing wines in small wineries all over the world that don’t enjoy the fame and fortune of these big names, but do it because it’s a passion and for the pure joy of creating something delicious that brings great pleasure!