It's safe to say that Halloween isn't celebrated in Asia with quite the same vigor as it is in the U.S. But this year, the last week of October brought some scary wine prices to Hong Kong: a lot of three bottles of 1869 Chateau Lafite Rothschild went for $698,076, or $232,692 per bottle—setting a new world record for the most expensive bottle of wine sold at auction.

"I happened to have one, from a different source, a few weeks before the auction and it was fabulous," says Jamie Ritchie, CEO and President of Americas and Asia for Sotheby's Wine. "We served it blind and the nearest guess on the age was 1959. What really made these bottles rare is the fact that they came directly from Chateau Lafite's cellars and were the oldest wines in the auction—you cannot get better provenance than that."

That provenance has been a part of Chateau Lafite for hundreds of years, part of the reason it's the winner of the Luxist Editors' Choice award for best in wine. Lafite's current incarnation dates back to 1868, when Baron James de Rothschild—a patriarch of the famous European banking family of the same name—purchased the Lafite estate, which had already been producing wine for at least a century.

Chateau Lafite was particularly attractive to Rothschild because of its status as one of the four wine-producing Chateaux of Bordeaux to be given First Growth status in the prestigious 1855 Classification. But the Baron never saw his purchase bear fruit—he passed away just three months after he made the purchase, leaving the renamed Chateau Lafite Rothschild estate to his three sons: Alphonse, Edmond and Gustave. Over the years, the estate survived attacks by both insects and foreign powers, and since 1974 Baron Eric de Rothschild has been the standard-bearer.

Today, Chateau Lafite Rothschild remains one of the world's most esteemed wine estates, producing some 35,000 cases per year. Popular recent vintages include 2000, which was stellar all across Bordeaux, and especially for Chateau Lafite. An auction in November yielded $5.4 million, topping the highest expectations by $1 million. One case of 12 bottles of the 2000 vintage sold for $36,300.

"A great vintage from a more modern era," says Ritchie. "The wines have great fruit, concentration, acidity and balance. They will last a long time, but can be enjoyed from now. The fact that this vintage also has the three zeroes from the Millennium Year means that it has additional appeal to collectors and drinkers."

Even the most recent vintages continue to rapidly appreciate in value: the 2008 Chateau Lafite Rothschild was valued at 1,500 pounds upon its release, but bottle prices more than doubled within two weeks.

And just as the Hong Kong auction showcased Asia's appetite for Chateau Lafite, the estate has shown a growing interest in Asia—quite literally—by partnering with CITIC, China's largest state-owned investment company, to cultivate over 60 acres of vines on the peninsula of Penglai in the Shandong province in 2009. The area, some experts say, could become the Bordeaux of China in the coming years.

In the meantime, Chateau Lafite will continue to produce exquisite wine in the Bordeaux of France. And with two more lots due up for auction by Sotheby's in January—the Andrew Lloyd Webber Wine Collection and the Finest & Rarest Wines on January 22 , as well as The Bordeaux Winebank "2000 Collection" Part II on January 23—it's quite possible that new records are about to be set. At the very least, the auctions will serve to underscore Chateau Lafite's burgeoning appeal in the Far East.

"Asian demand for the world's best wines and vintages remains very strong," says Ritchie. "I think we will see enthusiastic demand."

By Carrie Coolidge | Source :: Luxist


Northern California's Mendocino County offers a different wine profile than you can get in other places in the state. In many ways it is similar to Oregon with cooler weather that is favorable to pinot noir and to riesling and other aromatic whites. The Anderson Valley growing region will celebrate Alsace-style white wines next month in an decoration: Alsace Wine Festival weekend event February 12 and 13 that brings together a variety of different white wines including Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Muscat. The event includes a technical conference where participants can interact with winemakers and wine experts from around the globe and discuss the trends. This year's topic is Old World/New World and includes a discussion of Alsace wine and the wines of Germany as well as a look at Anderson Valley wines and the white wines of New York's Finger Lakes region.

The grand tasting brings together a variety of different wineries including Alderbrook Winery, Breggo Cellars, Domaine Weinbach, Foursight, Hagafen Cellars, Handley Cellars, Husch Vineyards, Lazy Creek Vineyards, Londer Vineyards, NY Finger Lakes Wine Alliance, Toulouse Vineyards and many more. A winemakers dinner is scheduled for the evening of February 12 in the private dining room at Scharffenberger Cellars. A sit-down dinner will be prepared by a renowned local chef and each course will be perfectly paired with wines featured at the festival or locally produced. The dinner is $125 and is nearly sold out.

The next day is given over to winery open houses. Local wineries are participating and hosting special programs. Events include live music, food pairings, cheese tastings and more. All together a lovely way to wile away Valentine's Day weekend in beautiful Northern California.

By Deidre Woollard | Source :: Luxist


Wine scion Michael Mondavi has announced his newest creation, the Private Cellars wine club. The club features luxury wines from around the world. As Mondavi puts it, his career in the wine business creating the Robert Mondavi wines led to relationships most renowned wine-making families in the world.

The club will feature a selections from a variety of wineries including some of the legendary "Supertuscans." The club launches with the Marchesi de' Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo Brunello, a four time Wine Spectator 'Top 100' wine. Marchesi de' Frescobaldi is one of the most prestigious houses in the world of wine. The wine is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes has a deep ruby red color and a rich bouquet, with ripe fruit on the nose, followed by spicier notes of coffee on the finish. It is sold through the wine club for $55.

Members who joined Mondavi's Private Cellars club by the end of the 2010 received a bottle of Castelgiocondo as a unique gift of entry but its not too late to join the club. You need not be a club member to purchase these wines, however club members receive special pricing and access to Member Only wines.Club Members receive 10% off most wines. Other benefits include personalized visits, VIP access and introductions to top wineries and winemakers around the world and invitations to special wine and culinary events with Michael Mondavi. Mondavi will also host Blend Your Own Wine Experiences in Napa Valley. All shipments are a maximum of $600 and shipping is included. You may choose to receive your wines monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly.

By Deidre Woollard | Source :: Luxist


The human love of wine may stretch back over 6,000 years judging by what has been unearthed in Armenia. The Areni-1 cave complex in Armenia has yield evidence of a 6,100-year-old wine-making operation. The wine vat, pots and drinking bowl were discovered in the cave near the Iranian border. Older evidence of wine drinking has been found but this is the oldest evidence of the wine-making process. Findings from a team led by UCLA archaeologist Hans Barnard will appear in the upcoming Journal of Archaeological Science. This area was also where the world's oldest leather shoe, dating back to 5,500 years ago, was discovered last summer.

The archaeologists found grape seeds, remains of pressed grapes and dozens of dried vines in an area surrounded by graves suggesting that the beverage had ritual significance. AOL News reports that the earliest comparable remains were found in the tomb of the Egyptian king Scorpion I, dating to around 5,100 years ago. The Egyptians are famous for their love of beer but also used wine for festivals and other events.

By Deidre Woollard | Source :: Luxist


Australian winery Penfolds has become the first Australian partner and first wine company to create (PRODUCT) RED items. Penfolds has launched (PENFOLDS)RED to help fund fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa. The winery will contribute a portion of proceeds on its Thomas Hyland and Koonunga Hill wines to the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. The official launch of the partnership will take place at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Penfolds is the Official Wine Sponsor of the festival which runs January 6-17, 2011. The film festival provided (RED) the opportunity to showcase their recently released documentary titled The Lazarus Effect. This 30-minute film, directed by Lance Bangs and executive produced by Spike Jonze, follows the story of HIV positive people in Zambia who undergo remarkable transformations thanks to access to antiretroviral medications. The festival will screen The Lazarus Effect free of charge throughout the day on January 7th, 2011.

With every purchase consumers make of Penfolds (PRODUCT)RED designated products - Koonunga Hill tier wines and Thomas Hyland tier wines – during promotional periods throughout the year, Penfolds will contribute 15 percent of the proceeds to the Global Fund to support HIV/AIDS programs in Africa. The Koonunga Hill wines include Shiraz Cabernet, Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon, the suggested retail is $11.99. The Thomas Hyland wines are made up of Adelaide Shiraz, South Australia Cabernet Sauvignon, Adelaide Chardonnay and Adelaide Riesling and the suggested retail for these wines is $15.

Although the project has not been met with universal approval, since 2006 $160 million has been generated through (RED) partnerships and events impacting 5 million people with testing, counseling and education. Other (RED) partners have included Apple, Armani and American Express.

By Deidre Woollard | Source :: Luxist

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