The Billionaire’s Vinegar with Ben Wallace

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In 1985, Michael Broadbent found himself conducting a wine auction for what seemed to be the rarest of wines – a bottle of Château Lafite apparently once owned by Thomas Jefferson. It was a standing-room only crowd, as the bidding for Lot 337 began. Among the bidders was Kip Forbes, son of publisher Malcolm Forbes and Marvin Shanken, publisher of the Wine Spectator. The bids bounced back and forth between Forbes and Shanken. When the gavel finally fell, Kip Forbes had purchased the rare bottle for the tidy sum of $156,000, making it the most expensive bottle of wine in the world.

The monumental auction drew attention and curiosity At some point, many people grew suspicious of the provenance of these bottles. A mysterious collector named Hardy Rodenstock had consigned the bottle to Christie’s, telling everyone that it had been found hidden in a secret cellar in France. Rodenstock seemed to have other rare bottles as well, some of which he would pour and share with others at lavish dinners and tastings. Some he would sell through merchants, such as the bottles bought by billionaire Bill Koch. The mystery of the rare bottles kept growing.

Join us as we talk with author Ben Wallace about the research that led to his book, “The Billionaire’s Vinegar,” which documents the sudden emergence of these rare bottles of wine, all apparently unearthed by noted wine collector Hardy Rodenstock.

To find out more information:

Ben Wallace and his book: www.benjaminwallace.net

Update!: Broadbent Wins Jefferson Bottles Libel Case: www.decanter.com

If you like this interview check out our previous show:

Thomas Jefferson and Wine: Thomas Jefferson and Wine Show #221

Sponsor – Pinpoint Technologies – Mailing List Source: www.pinpoint-tech.com

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Show #244
(48:19 min 34MB)

7 Responses to “The Billionaire’s Vinegar with Ben Wallace”


  1. 1 Tim Meranda Aug 3rd, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Wonderful show. I’m going out this afternoon and buy the book. I know I have a couple of bottles of collectable wine in my cellar from the same Chateau and vintage that don’t look the same and it makes me wonder.

  2. 2 GrapeRadio Bunch Aug 3rd, 2009 at 8:10 am

    Tim – I loved the book; and from other comments, most people couldn’t put it down either. I know what you mean about collectable wines. Thankfully, I don’t dabble in classified growths much (or any high end stuff for that matter). Not a lot of counterfeiting at the $40 level, I imagine.

    Eric

  3. 3 Julie Lindsey Nov 17th, 2009 at 8:54 am

    I enjoyed this show and look forward to reading the book. Ben was very articulate and intelligent, and this is such a crazy story! Thanks for bringing this interview to us.

  4. 4 paul r Apr 5th, 2010 at 6:23 am

    i have already read the book. despite knowing the story, i thoroughly enjoyed this podcast. ben was a very engaging and detailed guest. i suppose the story is just so engaging and he did a great job telling it in the book as well as here…

  5. 5 Michelle Apr 19th, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Wonderful show. I’m going out this afternoon and buy the book. I know I have a couple of bottles of collectable wine in my cellar from the same Chateau and vintage that don’t look the same and it makes me wonder.

  6. 6 Tony Apr 28th, 2010 at 1:33 am

    Wonderful show. I’m going out this afternoon and buy the book. I know I have a couple of bottles of collectable wine in my cellar from the same Chateau and vintage that don’t look the same and it makes me wonder.

  1. 1 Ben Wallace » Current News Trends pingback on Aug 7th, 2009 at 11:00 am

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GrapeRadio is a wine talk show. Show topics cover issues such as the enjoyment of wine, wine news and industry trends - the hallmark of the show is interviews with world class guest (winemakers, vineyards owners, wine retail / wholesale leaders, restaurateurs and sommeliers). The scope of the show is international so expect to hear many guests from around the world.

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