DI's Christian Davis: Cheers to £75K Yquem

Seventy-five thousand pounds, or US$122,433 or 85,613, for a bottle of wine is mind boggling. OK, it’s Château d’Yquem, but from 1811. It was the year Napoleon II was born. Little did he know his father would abdicate three years later, returning after 11 months to fight and lose the Battle of Waterloo. 

The man selling the wine says it is a good year (he would, wouldn’t he?), but it is still a long time ago. Good luck to purchaser Christian Vanneque. He seems a nice guy and, pleasingly, says he is going to open and drink it when a suitable anniversary presents itself.

I wish all fine wine or whisky was drunk rather than salted away for future auctions. First-growth Bordeaux have become like many houses and apartments in London and southern England – an investment rather than something fit for first purpose. As a result prices spiral and all too many ordinary people can’t afford to buy a home, let alone drink a bottle of Mouton or Lafite.

The scotch and cognac boys (and girls) are on to it as well, packaging their wares in ever more ornate boxes that are tantamount to coffins as the liquid inside may never be drunk. Consigned to darkness, buried away in a warehouse or vault waiting to see the cold light of day in an auctioneer’s showroom.

With the ‘taste’ for the best the west can offer cranking up in Asian markets, not to mention wealthy collectors worldwide, the chances of most of us actually drinking Yquem or Latour seem to be getting more remote by the minute. For the drinks industry I suppose it is good news – higher prices, greater profits, loads of media coverage. Just seems a shame that most people never get to try the really good stuff so they never get to measure themselves what people in our business are possibly raving about.

I think we’d all like to be a fly on the wall in Monsieur Vanneque’s restaurant in Bali when he opens that bottle.