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The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of…
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The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive… (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Benjamin Wallace (Author)

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8514021,918 (3.46)37
It was the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold. In 1985, a 1787 bottle of Cha^teau Lafite Bordeaux--one of a cache unearthed in a bricked-up Paris cellar and supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson--sold at auction for $156,000. The discoverer of the bottle was pop-band manager turned wine collector Hardy Rodenstock, who had a knack for finding extremely old and exquisite wines. But rumors soon arose. Why wouldn't Rodenstock reveal the exact location where it had been found? Was it part of a smuggled Nazi hoard? Or did his reticence conceal an even darker secret? Author Wallace also offers a history of wine, complete with vivid accounts of subterranean European laboratories where old vintages are dated and of Jefferson's colorful, wine-soaked days in France. This tale of what could be the most elaborate con since the Hitler diaries is also the debut of a new voice in narrative non-fiction.--From publisher description.… (more)
Member:pduhamel
Title:The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine
Authors:Benjamin Wallace (Author)
Info:Three Rivers Press (2009), Edition: 1st, 323 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine by Benjamin Wallace (2009)

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Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
I love mysteries and I love true crime non-fiction. So, I thought this book would be a perfect fit for my interests. While I enjoyed seeing the story of the Jefferson bottles of wine unfold, I wasn't a big fan of how the book was paced.

The first thing readers should know is that this book tells more than just the story of the mystery behind the wine supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson. It discusses the world of wine collecting, provides insight into the motivations of wealthy wine collectors, and dives into wine sales and wine forgery. I found all of these things interesting even though I'm not a wine person. But, people who are more interested in the mystery aspect of this book may not care for these insights.

The book is lengthy, with a relatively slow pace for much of the book. While plodding at times (especially when it starts talking about the specifics of the wine industry), I thought the slow pace was fine, as it felt like Wallace was trying to build the foundations of his story and build up the story until its climax.

Then, in the last few chapters, the book quickly picks up in pace until its abrupt conclusion. It honestly felt like a bit of a letdown, considering how detailed the set-up of the story was compared to the sparseness of the finale. It was as if Wallace ran out of time to finish the book . This was really disappointing to me because the book was getting somewhere really interesting - it just never got there.

The book started off very promising, in the 5-star range, but ended at a 3 due to the pacing.

For more of my reviews, please visit my blog. ( )
  mintlovesbooks | Feb 24, 2022 |
Loved this book. Fascinating story/mystery about a bottle of wine purported to have been originally bought by Thomas Jefferson. It's sale at Christie's Wine Auction in 1985 set a new record when it went for $156,000. But...the questions start? Was it truly an old wine? Wallace tells an interesting story full of mystery and intrigue and I was introduced to the world of 'wine fraud'. One warning though - I had constant cravings for a glass of wine and have had more than the usual the last couple of days. So be sure to stock up on some nice wines when you read this. ( )
  Nefersw | Jan 14, 2022 |
For a non-fiction book, the story of Hardy Rodenstock and his Jefferson bottles flowed well and was interesting, the characters being real people instead of just names in a book.

The author seems to favor the idea that Hardy Rodenstock, an avid collector and connoisseur of wine, forged some very old bottles of wine, even some from the 18th century purporting to belong to Thomas Jefferson himself. Rodenstock seems to be a bit unbalanced, putting it mildly.

This book takes place over the course of 20 years - roughly 1985 to 2005 - and goes into detail about old wine, wine collecting, wine tastings, and wine personalities. This was fascinating, especially to someone who feels that spending over $7.99 for a bottle of wine is extravagant.

Unfortunately, the book ends during the lawsuits against Rodenstock. I had to google the ending and I'm still not sure what's up. There's been more lawsuits but I'm not sure anything has come about because of them. I did read that Michael Broadbent, the Christie's auctioneer, sued Random House for libel and this book cannot be sold in the UK. Also, I saw rumors on the net of this becoming a movie. That would be interesting. ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
Fascinating world but so irrelevant and too long for the subject ( )
  ibkennedy | Jan 17, 2020 |
This is nonfiction about a 1787 bottle of wine that supposedly belonged to Thomas Jefferson, and wine collecting, with 31 pages of end notes. It was more interesting than it sounds.
1 vote riofriotex | Oct 2, 2019 |
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To my parents,

and in memory of Claire Wickham Woodroffe
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A hush had come over the West Room. Photographers' flashes strobed the standing-room-only crowd sliently, and the lone sound was the crisp voice of the auctioneer.
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It was the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold. In 1985, a 1787 bottle of Cha^teau Lafite Bordeaux--one of a cache unearthed in a bricked-up Paris cellar and supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson--sold at auction for $156,000. The discoverer of the bottle was pop-band manager turned wine collector Hardy Rodenstock, who had a knack for finding extremely old and exquisite wines. But rumors soon arose. Why wouldn't Rodenstock reveal the exact location where it had been found? Was it part of a smuggled Nazi hoard? Or did his reticence conceal an even darker secret? Author Wallace also offers a history of wine, complete with vivid accounts of subterranean European laboratories where old vintages are dated and of Jefferson's colorful, wine-soaked days in France. This tale of what could be the most elaborate con since the Hitler diaries is also the debut of a new voice in narrative non-fiction.--From publisher description.

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