At the end of May, three bottles of wine will be auctioned off by the well-known auction house Christie’s in the town of Lons-le-Saunier in France on the Swiss border. They are being sold by the famous vineyard of Pierre Vercel. Vercel was a famous 18th-century winemaker and his descendants are selling the last three bottles in their cellars. The wine is now 244 years old because it was bottled in 1774.
The Vercel vineyards are situated in the Jura Mountains region, on the border with Switzerland. Vercel is credited with creating a specific type of wine, which is called vin jaune and only comes from this region. The Guardian reported that vin jaune is a white wine, similar to dry sherry. Instead of being fortified like sherry, it is matured in a barrel under a yeast film, called a voile, and this allows the wine to last for a very long time.
Apparently, eight generations of the Vercel family have heavily guarded this wine, slowly releasing them for sale occasionally. In 1994, a bottle was tested by a group of famous wine experts. They tasted it and declared it to be delicious and said that it should ideally be opened in a hundred year’s time for a perfect taste and flavour. They gave it a score of 9.4 out of 10.
In 2011, a bottle was sold from this wine collection for €58,000. A year later, one more bottle was sold and fetched €38,000. These last three bottles of wine are from the same collection and are listed with a guide price of €20,000. But as the last bottles in existence, who knows how much they will go for? The wine is highly prized; apparently, famed biologist Louis Pasteur was a close friend of Vercel and he celebrated an academic prize with a bottle of the same wine in 1881. The wine was then only 107 years old.
A bottle of Massandra sherry from 1775 was sold in 2001 at Sotheby’s in London for $43,500. The Massandra winery is in Ukraine and the bottle was 239 years old. That was topped in 2006 by a bottle of wine, which was bought for $100,000. It was a bottle of 1787 Chateau d’Yquem acquired by an American collector but the bottle was later rumoured to be fake. Several lawsuits regarding the sale were later filed.
In 2017, Burgundy wine was the most expensive, coming up in eight out of the 10 most expensive alcohol sales at Christie’s. Collectors regularly pay big money for very rare wines – Christie’s held 16 wine auctions around the world in 2017. It is often sold by the case, which is comprised of 12 bottles. In 2017, the most expensive case was auctioned for $198,000. The most expensive individual bottle was a $45,000 Château Lafite-Rothschild from 1806.
The most expensive bottle, though, was sold at an auction for £350,000 in 2017 for a relatively new Californian Cabernet Sauvignon made in 2015. The wine was made by Jesse Katz, who was the youngest head winemaker in the United States in 2010 and now, has many celebrity clients. This bottle of wine was created for an individual client and put up for sale to raise money for educational charities.