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Monday
Jun012009

Thomas Jefferson's Claret

These days I can't wait to eat a hasty dinner and immediately tuck into The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine by Benjamin Wallace.  It's about a cache of 1787 Chateau Lafite, once owned by Thomas Jefferson, that was discovered after being sealed in cellar for two hundred years. Or was it?   The book is a delicious mix of ancient Bordeaux, antiquties trading and fakery -  all tied up in a page turner I can't put down.   Here's an example.  This quote from André Tchelistcheff is not new, but I've never seen it rendered so entertainingly:  

At one of the a Heublein auctions run by Broadbent, the four-foot-eleven Tchelistcheff had sampled the old wine and told the room, in his emigre's Russian accent, "Tasting old wine is like making love to an old lady." After a dramatic pause, he had continued, "It is possible." After another pause: "It can even be enjoyable." Then, following one last sip: "But it requires a leetle bit of imagination."

--Benjamin Wallace, The Billionaire's Vinegar  

There's more stories - like the one about the mammoth sigh of relief breathed by Wine Spectator owner, Marvin Shanken  when he LOST the bidding for the "Th J" etched Lafite. Or the one about a consesiour and his wife, lapping antique wine from the kitchen floor after an accidental break. And then there's the collector who intends to show off a precious 19th century Bordeaux at a prestigious tasting...until it starts to leak. 

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Reader Comments (2)

The shock and distress of breaking that bottle would have given me a heart attack.

September 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMcCready

No kidding, McCready. If I remember correctly his heart was OK, but deep and desperate sinking feeling. Thanks for reading the blog, hope you try the book.:-)

September 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterann

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