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Hawksmoor wine mistake: How is any bottle worth £4,500?

Time:2019-05-21 07:29wine - Red wine life health Click:

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Wine lovers have reacted with shock, and perhaps some envy, after it was revealed that a customer at a Manchester restaurant was given a £4,500 bottle of wine - instead of the one they ordered.

Why is some wine so eye-wateringly expensive though - and would most people notice a huge difference from their normal bottle?

We spoke to wine experts Jilly Goolden and Joe Fattorini to find out.

So, would you taste the difference?

Media captionWine drinkers toast cellar confusion after £4,500 bottle mix-up

Fattorini, presenter of The Wine Show who goes by the nickname Obi Wine Kenobi, is certain the lucky customers at Hawksmoor would have known they had something special on their hands.

"I suspect they would have gone: 'wow, that's extraordinary!'," he says. "It does taste different and it would taste fabulous so undoubtedly you would know."

So for those of us who would struggle to justify spending quadruple figures on anything, let alone a single bottle of wine, how does this one - a Chateau le Pin Pomerol 2001- actually taste?

"It's really, really good," enthuses Fattorini. "I haven't had the 2001, which is quite hard to get hold of. But it's the epitome of their house style.

"It's glossy, rich and voluptuous with lots of cherries and leaves your mouth coated with a glycerine feel. It's exceptional."

 A £4,500 wine - or a £4.50 wine?

But Goolden disagrees - believing that quite simply, "you wouldn't know if you were tasting wine worth £4,500".

"It would be much better than a house red - but then almost anything is better than that", the writer and television presenter said.

"The other thing to consider is that a 2001 wine is obviously 18 years old, so it would be very unlike a wine you would buy just when you're out and about in a wine shop.

"It's a very old wine. It would look different and would probably have lost quite a lot of fruit - those drinking it might even have been disappointed."

How can it cost so much?

Le Pin has been described as among the most expensive wines in the world. But why is that?

"An enormous amount of the alleged value of the wine will be in the provenance and the pedigree and the rarity," says Goolden. "The rarity alone doesn't make it that expensive. But if it's something very sought-after, then it pushes the price up.

"You have to take into account that restaurants hike the prices up hugely as well. It would not cost that much on a wine rack.

"I think to the average punter in the restaurant, the nuance of it would go over their head."

Fattorini explains: "They only made 500 cases of it, on a one-acre vineyard, so there isn't very much of it in the first place.

"Most big Bordeaux chateaux will turn out 100,000 cases. So the cost of making it is higher, if each vine only produces a few glasses rather than a few bottles.

"People want more the higher the price goes. It's almost deliberately expensive - it makes it more attractive. It's totally irrational, but it's why people want it even more."

 A vineyard in Bordeaux - the one owned by Le Pin occupies just one acre

He adds of the Le Pin 2001 wine: "It's also very exotic. It's a really good vintage for them especially. There's an extraordinary mystique around Le Pin - there's a premium."

The presenter and writer says there's a vast difference in taste between a £5 bottle of wine and a £20 bottle but that it isn't quite as drastically different once the cost gets up into the hundreds of pounds.

If you had one bottle costing £500 and the other £2,500 while the pricier wine would be better, it wouldn't be "hugely different", he adds.

Who would - or could - buy it?

Goolden says these are "people on expense accounts, people who show off - there are a lot of them", adding that her "whole career has been spent trying to prick the bubble of mystique surrounding wine."

"It's often people with company credit cards," Fattorini agrees. "And they would spend that much because they enjoy doing it."

He said celebrities will also spend quite a lot of money on wine - pointing out David Beckham posted pictures of wine he was drinking with wife Victoria on Instagram when he was celebrating his wedding anniversary last year. Those are thought to have cost in the hundreds rather than the thousands, however.

Fattorini says: "If you're that wealthy, it's the equivalent of spending £12.99 on a bottle for the average person.

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