238-Year-Old Wine Sells for $49K

According to Decanter.com, a 1774 bottle of vin jaune was purchased by an anonymous French buyer for US$49,343 on May 15th. Christie’s Geneva conducted the auction. The bottle was part of a batch which had been kept intact for eight generations by a family of winemakers in a vaulted underground cellar. The bottle comes from France’s Jura region, which is located between Burgundy and Switzerland.

Vin jaune, or “yellow wine,” is known for its ability to last for long periods of time. It is made from Savagnin grapes, picked as ripe as possible, and it is aged at least six years in oak, with air contact, before it is released. While the wine matures in the barrel, similar to the maturation process for Sherry, a film of yeast (known as the voile) grows on the surface of the wine, forming a protective layer. The flavor of vin jaune has been compared with that of dry fino sherry. Decanter reports that according to Christie’s, wine from this batch was last officially tasted in 1994 and was pronounced “excellent [with] ‘golden-amber’ nectar, and ‘flavours of nuts, spices, curry, cinnamon, vanilla and dried fruits.’”

Other notable events that occurred in 1774, when the grapes used to produce this wine were harvested, include the assembly of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Louis XVI’s ascent to the French throne, and Captain Cook’s landing at Easter Island.

A similar bottle of vin jaune from 1773 was purchased for US$72,517 by a group of wine lovers in 2011. Reportedly, they planned to drink the bottle.

For more information, visit Decanter.com.

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