Tuesday, November 10, 2009

10 Bottles Of Wine You Can’t Afford To Uncork

No liquid beyond water is more storied than wine. It’s the subject of literature and art, legend and myth. Good batches are part science: climate, grape genetics, yeast growth, water impurities and otherwise. The best wines are an almost indefinable art, an essence, feeling or quality that many try to bottle, but few ever uncork. To celebrate those wines that have become legendary to collectors around the world, here are the 10 most expensive bottles of wine in the world.

$24,675 - 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Citing its dark, deep and “vibrant” flavors, Wine Spectator in 2001 lauded Inglenook’s 1941 cabernet sauvignon, a batch considered by many the best ever produced in Napa Valley.

$20,145 - 1934 DRC Romanée Conti

A burgundy with “sensational” aromatics, tasters have been overwhelmed by this wine’s bouquet. Wisps of menthol blend with the scent of “sexy sausage” and the wine’s reportedly perfect pinot texture.

$23,929 - 1978 Montrachet Domaine de la Romanée Conti

Among the most expensive bottles of wine ever sold in America, a seven-bottle lot of 1978 Montrachet Domaine was bought at auction for $167,500 — $23,929 per bottle. The chardonnay is bright and lively and said to taste of honey and grilled almonds.

$33,781 - 1947 Cheval Blanc

A wine so legendary it’s name has become a subtle joke so pervasive it was uttered by the animated mouse in “Ratatouille,” the 1947 Cheval Blanc is considered a “happy accident of nature,” and is likely the most celebrated wine in the 20th century. The wine has a notoriously thick consistency, smells of leather, coffee and chocolate and tastes of sweet fruit.

$38,000 - 1951 Penfolds Grange Hermitage

Only 160 cases of the 1951 Grange were produced by famed Australian winemaker Max Schubert, who wanted to make a red to rival those he observed while studying in Bordeaux. The wine experiment was corked in whatever bottle Schubert could find, simply labeled and is now one of the most prized Australian wines.

$43,500 - 1775 Sherry from Massandra Collection

Bottled in the Crimea and prized by Russian Czars, the oldest Western European sherry was sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 2001. The most rare bottles of the sherry bear an imperial seal.

$80,000 - 1992 Screaming Eagle

Purple-colored at the rim, the 1992 Screaming Eagle is one of Napa Valley’s most buzzed-about wines. The cabernet is intense, rich and creamy with elegant fruity flavors that linger in the mouth.

$114,614 - 1945 Château Mouton-Rothschild

Hailed as a “true miracle” in winemaking, the 1945 Mouton-Rothschild was harvested in ideal climate conditions and perfectly bottled a deep, blackcurrant flavor that’s astoundingly concentrated. An anonymous buyer snatched up a Jeroboam for 114,614 at a Christie’s auction in 1997.

$160,000 - Chateau Lafite 1787

The 1787 Chateau Lafite isn’t prized for its flavor. In fact, it’s not even drinkable. But a bottle of the vinegar nevertheless fetched $160,000 in a London auction because of the initials etched into the glass. Th.J. Its rumored owner, once president Thomas Jefferson, is said to have bought the bottle overseas while serving as ambassador to France.

$275,000 – Shipwrecked 1907 Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Champagne

Cases of the bubbly were bound for Czar Nicholas II of Russia, but were lost in 1917 after a German submarine in torpedoed its transport during WWI. In 1998. 2,000 bottles were salvaged from the bottom of the Gulf of Finland and now sell for more than a quarter million dollars.

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