The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine

Author(s): Benjamin Wallace


"Part detective story, part wine history, this is one juicy tale, even for those with no interest in the fruit of the vine. . . . As delicious as a true vintage Lafite." --BusinessWeek
The Billionaire's Vinegar tells the true story of a 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux--supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson--that sold for $156,000 at auction and of the eccentrics whose lives intersected with it. Was it truly entombed in a Paris cellar for two hundred years? Or did it come from a secret Nazi bunker? Or from the moldy basement of a devilishly brilliant con artist? As Benjamin Wallace unravels the mystery, we meet a gallery of intriguing players--from the bicycle-riding British auctioneer who speaks of wines as if they are women to the obsessive wine collector who discovered the bottle. Suspenseful and thrillingly strange, this is the vintage tale of what could be the most elaborate con since the Hitler diaries. "Updated for paperback with a new epilogue."

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"Part detective story, part wine history, this is one juicy delicious as a true vintage Lafite."
--"Business Week"
"Splendid...A delicious mystery that winds through musty European cellars, Jefferson-era France and Monticello, engravers' shops, a nuclear physics lab, rival auction houses and legendary multi-day tastings conducted by the shadowy German who had discovered the Jefferson collection...Ripe for Hollywood."
--"USA Today
""This is a gripping story, expertly handled by Benjamin Wallace who writes with wit and verve, drawing the reader into a subculture strewn with eccentrics and monomaniacs...Full of detail that will delight wine lovers. It will also appeal to anyone who merely savours a great tale, well told."
--"The Economist
""A page-turner...What makes Wallace's book worth reading is the way he fleshes out the tale with entertaining digressions into Jefferson's wine adventures, how to fake wines (who knew a shotgun blast could make a bottle look old?) and dead-on portraits of several major wine personalities who intersected unhappily with the wines."
""Wallace's depiction of rabid oenophiles staging almost decadent events to swill rare wine, knowingly depleting the reserves, are as much fun as the mystery."
--"The New York Daily News"
"A riveting wine history, wine mystery, and more."
--Dana Cowin, editor in chief of "Food & Wine
""For anyone with at least a curiosity about precious old wines and the love of a good story, this well-crafted piece of journalism may prove as intriguing and enjoyable as a fine old Bordeaux."
--"Seattle Times
""The season's wine reading cannot get off to a betterstart than with "The Billionaire's Vinegar," one of the rare books on wine that transcends the genre ...Though the story is the collector's world, the subject is also greed and how it can contort reality to fit one's desires. It's been optioned for Hollywood. I hope the movie's as good as the book."
--Eric Asimov, The Pour, "New York Times"
"It is the fine details--the bouquet, the body, the notes, the finish--that make this book such a lasting pleasure, to be savored and remembered long after the last page is turned. Ben Wallace has told a splendid story just wonderfully, his touch light and deft, his instinct pitch-perfect. Of all the marvelous legends of the wine trade, this curiously unforgettable saga most amply deserves the appellation: a classic."
--Simon Winchester, author of "The Professor and the Madman" and "A Crack in the Edge of the World"
"The Billionaire's Vinegar is the ultimate page-turner. Written with literary intelligence, it has a cast of characters like something out Fawlty Towers meets The Departed. It takes you into a subculture so deep and delicious, you can almost taste the wine that turns so many seemingly rational people into madmen. It is superb nonfiction."
--Buzz Bissinger, author of "Friday Night Lights"

"From the Hardcover edition."

General Fields

  • : 9780307338785
  • : Crown Publishing Group
  • : Crown Publishing Group
  • : April 2009
  • : 202mm X 134mm X 18mm
  • : United States
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 641.2223
  • : 641.2223
  • : English
  • : English
  • : Benjamin Wallace
  • : Benjamin Wallace
  • : Alcoholic beverages; History of specific subjects
  • : Paperback
  • : Alcoholic beverages; History of specific subjects
  • : Paperback
  • : 323
  • : 323