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The Most Expensive White Wine in the World – 1811 Chateau d’Yquem, The Comet Vintage

A 200-year-old bottle of 1811 Chateau d’Yquem has set a new Guinness World Record for the world’s most valuable bottle of white wine, after it was sold for £75,000. The bottle was bought by wine connoisseur and private collector Christian Vanneque. Vanneque will only get to taste his expensive purchase in 2017, when he plans to drink it to celebrate what will be his 50 year anniversary as a sommelier. He will open it at the famous Michelin-starred Paris restaurant La Tour d’Argent and share it with his wife, the vendor and the restaurant owner. Christian Vanneque was head sommelier of La Tour d’Argent, and served as an expert wine taster at the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976. He also participated in The Judgment of Paris 30th Anniversary on the 30th anniversary of the Paris event.

Vanneque said: “I will open it in six years to mark the 50th anniversary of when I began work in Paris and share it with my wife, brothers and friends – I already know what the menu will be.”

“I knew I had Napoleon’s height and now I have something from his reign and it is a bit humbling,” he joked.

Until then the wine will be displayed in a bullet-proof, temperature-controlled showcase at Vanneque’s restaurant, the SIP Sunset Grill in Bali, Indonesia.

What makes the Chateau d’Yquem 1811 so very special? It is a Comet Vintage. There is a legend amongst wine makers that comets create great vintages – and strangely enough it seems to be correct. Comet Vintages are years during which a comet is visible to the naked eye (preferably, I presume, that of the vintner’s) prior to harvest. Throughout the history of wine, winemakers have attributed successful vintages and ideal weather conditions to the unexplained effects caused by the comets. Some of the most heralded vintages in the last couple of centuries have coincided with a notable appearance of a comet.

The 1811 Comet Vintage, coinciding with the appearance of the Great Comet of 1811 has perhaps the most notoriety. The 1811 Château d’Yquem has exhibited what wine experts like Robert Parker have described as exceptional longevity with Parker scoring the wine a perfect 100 points when tasted in 1996.

The 1811 comet that year was the Flaugergues Comet, named after the French astronomer Honoré Falugergues who first spotted the comet in March. The comet was visible for most of the growing season which saw optimal conditions for many of the world’s major growing regions, but particularly in France. After a string of bad vintages at the start of the 19th century, the 1811 vintage was a reversal of fortune in regions like Bordeaux, Cognac, Champagne and Sauternes. In Germany, the 1811 vintage was so successful that producers along the Rhine labelled their wines as “comet hock”.

If you are interested in learning more about Comet Vintages check out my blog: Comet Vintages and Drinking Wine by Starlight and Dwayne Perreault’s blog on Comet Vintages over at Bordoverview.

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