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Chateau Lafite – World’s Most Expensive Wine

When an enterprising young man named James Christie opened his sales rooms in London in December 1766, his first auction consisted of the estate of a “deceased nobleman” containing “a large Quantity of Madeira and high Flavour’d Claret.” The records don’t relate how much these delightfully described “high Flavour’d clarets” fetched but as the whole sale realized a grand total �175, it is a sure bet that if Christie had known that two hundred years later, in 1985, his now famous auction house would sell one bottle of wine for 105,000, or $160,000, he might have held back a bottle or two to enrich his future heirs.
This bottle was a Bordeaux, a 1787 Chateau Lafite, and, according to The Guinness Book of World Records, 18 years later it still is the world’s most expensive bottle of wine. Its great age alone would have ensured a good price but what gave it its special cachet, especially to American collectors, and ensured the record price tag were the initials Th.J. etched in the glass.

Chateau

The bottle had belonged to Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and one of the most revered of its founding fathers. A philosopher, scientist and statesmen, the aristocratic Jefferson was also an avid oenophile. When he was ambassador to France he spent much of his time visiting the vineyards of Bordeaux and Burgundy, buying wine for his own collection and on behalf of his friends back home. He is also associated with two other bottles of very pricy wine, a 1775 Sherry ($43,500) and the most expensive white wine ever sold, a 1787 Chateau d’Yquem ($56,588).