The most expensive bottle of wine ever sold at a public auction is a bottle of 1945 Romanee-Conti, a French Burgundy which sold at Sotheby’s in October of last year for a whopping $558 000 (around R8,2 million).
Romanee-Conti only produced 600 bottles in 1945, which was the final year before they uprooted their older, prized vines and replanted.
This individual bottle of wine might have fetched a pretty penny, but if you want a wine that consistently goes for whopping sums, you need to look at a wine made in the Spanish province of Cuenca by winemaker Hilario García, reports BBC.
For the last 11 years, García has been making some remarkable wines in a rather unusual way. Many of his methods are secret, but the results have captured the interest of wine buyers around the world.
Today, a single bottle of García’s AurumRed Gold sells for upwards of €25,000 [around R400 000] and is widely considered the most expensive wine in the world.
‘The most expensive wine in the world’ is a nice title to hold. Bring one to a dinner party and you can be excused for breaking protocol and taking it home again at the end of the night.
We suggest something a little easier on the pocket that still goes down like a treat, but can be left behind at said dinner party without pangs of regret.
Garcia is a third-generation winemaker with an interesting backstory. Nearly 20 years ago, he was diagnosed with severe spinal stenosis and became unable to walk. Garcia claims that he was cured by an experimental treatment called ‘ozone therapy’, which involves increasing the body’s oxygen levels to boost immunity.
Two years after his miraculous recovery, he started to wonder if his vines might benefit from ozone therapy.
So, in 2007, García built a machine that enabled him to pump ozone into water and began using it to irrigate his vineyard. The results, he says, were almost as dramatic as his own recovery.
Due to the high concentration of oxygen in the water, he believes the plants grew more quickly and the grapes were of a higher quality. In García’s opinion, the oxygen-saturated water helps the plants extract more nutrients from the soil.
Despite using ozone to help his plants resist diseases and pests, García maintains that his vines have always been strong. “My grandfather planted this vineyard 120 years ago,” García said. “It has withstood many hardships over the years.”
He harvested his first AurumRed Gold in 2009 and released it in 2012. Its highly unusual cultivation methods meant that it sold for €4 000 a bottle.
In the past seven years, the price of AurumRed Gold has steadily increased, and now hovers around €25,000. Ozone treatment aside, another reason for the wine’s hefty price tag is its rarity: García produces just 300 bottles each year, and only 150 of them are put up for sale.
The rest are reserved in his cellar in case a client wants to purchase a favourite vintage in the future. Each bottle also comes emblazoned with a medal of two 18-karat gold fish. Since all bottles are hand-delivered around the world, the price is also affected by the country where the purchaser lives and varying import duties and taxes.
Garcia claims that AurumRed is unique in other ways too.
“A bottle of AurumRed can be open for months or even years and not only will it not spoil, it gets better,” he said. “Unlike other wines, oxygen doesn’t hurt it. Oxygen makes it better.” It’s hard to imagine many of his clients taking the risk to find out if this claim is true.
But perhaps an even more unusual characteristic is that García says AurumRed has different flavours and smells depending on whether you swirl a glass of it clockwise or anticlockwise.
José Carlos Capel, the culinary critic of Spain’s El País newspaper and one of the country’s foremost gastronomy experts, was dubious of this claim. So he enlisted the help of wine critic Juancho Asenjo and Javier Gila, president of the Madrid Sommeliers Association, to join him in tasting García’s Gold and Silver varieties.
After swirling and sipping García’s creations, all three of them agreed: almost unbelievably, there was a difference in taste depending on which way you swirled it.
Given that we will never get to taste it for ourselves, we cannot refute these claims. Alas, I guess we have to trust the president of the Madrid Sommeliers Association.
We do live in an area that is world-famous for its incredible vineyards, though. Franschoek, and the Anthonij Rupert Wine Estate, more specifically, has produced a particularly fine selection of wines.
The affordable, but delicious, Protea range of reds, whites and rosé has something to suit any taste, meal, or vibe.
If you want to spoil yourself or impress your hosts, at around R200 a pop, it doesn’t get better than the Rupert Optima.
The Optima has a complex melange of inviting deep blueberry, cassis and spicy cocoa aromas. The wine is structured and graceful with a velvety, soft-textured mouth feel and lovely hints of oak and fruit. Complex, nuanced and subtly powerful, nothing is overplayed.
It’s the kind of wine you bring to a dinner with confidence, so be sure to tell everyone you brought it along when it gets opened.
You’re refined like that.
If the wine jargon doesn’t do it for you, all you need to know is that’s it’s a very good bottle of wine.
You can check out the full range of Rupert Wines here.
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