A fine intoxication
A whiff is enough to send your sanity reeling. A swirl can undo the most steadfast of resolves. And a sip can send you to heaven.
Yes, fine wine is like that elusive seduction – one that plays with your every sense; that taunts your every breath and tempts you to lose all reason for a few moments of unadulterated ecstasy. And when money is not an issue, there is even more reason to lose all reason - for those few seconds of rapture, blended finely in to every drop that deigns to grace your palette.
So begins our sojourn through some of the most rarefied and exclusive wines in the world. But first, and as is appropriate of all things so mystically superior, the ambience amidst which we explore these fascinations…
Imagine yourself off the coast of the French Riviera, perched upon opulent white leather, sparkling blue waters and a clean wind in the sails…
Presenting the Domaine Romanée-Conti, with vintages that need decades to mature. The wine has a long history, but then as now too, only a few hundred cases are produced each year – reason why it’s highly prized, by avid collectors as well as those who enjoy the high life. The 1997 batch is said to be the most perfect a wine of recent years can be; which is why a lot of seven bottles fetched $167,500, or a whopping $23,929 per bottle at Sotheby's in New York in 2001; the most expensive ever to be sold in America and an extraordinary price even in the rarified world of wine collecting.
Understandably, you’re still spinning, but you still hear the pop – a bottle of the most snobbish champagne, the 1990 Louis Roederer Cristal! A vintage bubbly that packs in lots of different flavors – citrus, vanilla, pear and nutmeg, its fashionista following makes it an exclusive that’s only popped to prove a point – uber everything! But not to be out done is the 1907 Heidsieck Champagne that ‘well-to-do’ guests at the Ritz-Carlton, Moscow can open for a mere $275,000 a pop! The ultimate rich kid’s bubbly, its story is as special as its bottles are prized. Shipwrecked off the coast of Finland on their way to the Russian Imperial family in 1916, 200 bottles of the Heidsieck were discovered by deep sea divers only 80 years later, in 1997.
And if that’s too much headiness, too much wind, or too much of a good thing... now’s the time to lie back into the leather and let the sun-kissed wind warm your skin, even as a sip of fruity bubbles winds its way down your throat…because your next port of call is none other than Bordeaux...
The only wine in France to hold the Premier Cru Superieur (Great First Growth) designation, Château d'Yquem is considered by many to be Bordeaux’s single greatest wine. Consistently voted as having the finest wines in the world, it is newer dry white wine Ygrec. It was produced 1959 onwards, but not every year, and is a must-have for any wine collector. One of Thomas Jefferson’s favorites, a 1784 Chateau d Yquem inscribed with the former president’s initials fetched $56,588! That is the sweet aftertaste of the uncompromising pursuit of quality – a standard meticulously maintained throughout the estate’s history.
You hear something again… you can’t really tell, a little tinkling perhaps – like diamonds against fine crystal, like the tiniest chimes…it’s probably a 1945 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild vintage. It’s said that each drop of this exclusive wine is worth the same amount as a diamond, top-quality cubic zirconias maybe but nonetheless. And why not! With an intensely sensuous bouquet and decadent sensations, it will, like its crystalline counterparts enchant the most jaded wine lover. No wonder then, that over the years wine experts have given this exquisite wine 100 out of 100.
And finally, the most extraordinary of all - the 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet. This half a million dollar bottle of super vintage wine sold for charity at $500,000 in 2000. From a boutique vineyard in the Napa Valley where they don’t even take orders anymore, the Screaming Eagle reds are sold out indefinitely. So you’d be forgiven for screaming, if you do come across this rich, intense, sweet and creamy vintage cabernet with its seductive aroma and lingering, elegant fruit-like flavour. Unless you do have pockets to match!
Fine wine will do that to you – fill you with all that is bright, it will dazzle your every pore and make you feel like you’re pirouetting in the air…but alas, it is time to drop anchor.