Spirited Away: The Soma of This World
It’s no secret that I’m partial to a glass of wine every now and then. After all, I’ve written a few blogs about the stuff, but despite fancying a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon or a bottle of Brut Champagne from time to time I could never see myself taking out a loan to even sniff the cork of opulence. I couldn’t even imagine trying to justify that to the bank, let alone to an accountant if I was wealthy enough to actually procure a £100,000 bottle of wine.
This ostentatious number isn’t being plucked out of mid-air for the sake of hyperbole though, as much like my last article ‘The Ambrosia of This World’, I’ll be looking at a few of the wines that are so expensive that the very act of someone buying one would probably cause a bank to collapse. They’re so pricey they make diamond rings look like ring pops, so for the sake of laughing at ridiculously costly grape juice, let’s take a look at some of the world’s ritziest wines.
It’s time to gasp in astonishment at how tasting the stars can cost as much as taking a rocket to one.
Where better to start than at the bottom of the list with the white wine that reigns king over all white wines; the 1811 Chateau d’Yquem. Now, white wines aren’t frequently counted amongst the finest of wines and this is mainly because not many can stand the test of time long enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with the vintages. Usually going bad after a few years, or decades at best, white wine sadly cannot compete with the robust nature of the reds. Most, but not all of them; case in point the 1811 Chateau d’Yquem.
A potent blend of 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc, this tantalisingly delicious (I assume) wine is well preserved thanks to the high levels of residual sugar within it. Thanks to this key ingredient it has managed to survive for centuries and comfortably secured a title as a ‘fine wine’, even securing perfect 100 points by such tasters as Parker. A bottle has been reported to be sold for £75k to a private collector for a restaurant opening, which set it in the Guinness World Record as the most expensive white wine in the world. A little context goes a long way, so for the record the next highest selling white wine is about £4,500 a pop. Frankly that’s ridiculous, yet I imagine it’s delicious, so I’m more than willing to taste it and change my mind.
Since I sincerely doubt I’ll be receiving any offers to do so any time soon, let’s move onto the next item on the list.
Now, the following titanic price tag for the Chateau Margaux 1787 stemmed from a few contributing factors. First was the staggering age of it, being over two centuries old, and second was its previous owner: Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States. The final figure was a whooping half a million dollars (or, £380,000 if you prefer) which made it the most expensive wine ever sold. Hilariously enough (or tragically if you can sympathise with someone who can spend half a million on a single bottle of wine) the owner wished to sample it, or at the very least show it off, at a Margaux Dinner, which even had the owners of Chateau Margaux attending, but before a drop could be tasted or guests could fully bask in the wine’s glory the bottle fell from his hands.
Although it didn’t shatter, two large holes were made, causing the ruby liquid (that was worth more than actual rubies) to spill into a shallow puddle. The story becomes that not only did the owner rush out in such a fluster with the remnants of his bottle that he forgot his wife, but one of the distinguished wine connoisseurs. A restaurant manager called Julian Niccoloni, dipped a finger into the puddle and had but one note to reflect the taste, which was “yuck”. It seemed that the wine had spoiled, which should have been of little surprise as even the previous owner President Jefferson stated that “all red wines decline after a certain age”. That must have been a bitter pill to swallow for the owner.
The final drink worth diving into is certainly a corker. I’m being a little lax with the wine theme but it shouldn’t be too much of a shock that the most luxurious wine on this list is one of a sparkling variety. I should begin by stating that I am aware there’s a more expensive champagne than the one I will soon mention, imaginatively called ‘Le Billionare’ by Leon Verres, but if you Google that then you’ll see why I omitted it; the aesthetics of it alone are appalling.
Anyway, lavish in name alone, the Goût de Diamants (or, Taste of Diamonds) costs so much it’d have even aristocrats’ descendants still paying for it three generations after the cork is popped. An absolutely insane £1.2 million per bottle, the Goût de Diamants, which even if it does taste of diamonds I can’t imagine they taste that great, may be an exquisite champagne but, like many of the extravagant items I’ve written about, it’s the bottle itself that brings about that steep price.
Designed by the acclaimed Alexander Amosu, the bottle is jet black and decorated with white gold tags, front and back, as well as a diamond shaped emblem embedded with a flawless deep cut white diamond. Undeniably stunning, each bottle is also personalised to each buyer, with their name engraved into the white gold. Now I know there are different classes of people in this world, and I’d hardly like to portray myself as someone who couldn’t appreciate something as sumptuous as this champagne, but over a million for a bottle of champagne, glorious presentation and all, still seems crazy, especially when I’d be content with a bottle of £10 prosecco wrapped in tinfoil, bearing my name in permanent marker.
Do you know of any other extravagant wines worth checking out? Which one would you sell your house for? Let us know in the comments section below or via Facebook or Twitter! And of course, be sure to check out the rest of the Spirited Away series, as well as the rest of the gourmet goodness on the Gourmet Society blog!
By Tom Simpkins