What do you do when you come across a cask of 150 year-old Port? Package it elegantly and put it on the market for about $4,000.
The wine, which has been aging since before phyloxera ravaged Europe, requiring the replanting of vines on American rootstock, turned up in a purchase destined for 30 or 40 year-old tawny blends.
‘That seemed a shame,’ said Adrian Bridge, CEO of The Fladgate Partnership, owner of Taylor’s and a gentleman apparently given to understatement. So, instead of blending the old wine into relatively indistinct mass product, Taylor has put 1,400 bottles of the 150 year-old port on the market at £2,500 per.
Bridge said he believed there was a market for a port at such an elevated price, but confessed: ‘I have no idea of what the world response will be, absolutely no idea – because no-one’s ever done this before.’
I’ll make a prediction. I’ll bet you right now the inventory sells out in a couple of weeks. If I were a rich guy with a few grand to burn I’d buy a bottle, and after spending a couple of weeks admiring it I’d invite a dozen friends over for a taste.
There is so much about wine pricing that is market positioning divorced from history or quality. But this is the real deal: wine that is a tie to a lost world, long ago and far away. It’s truly rare, not an allocated contrivance of someone’s marketing plan.
Sure $4,000 is a lot of money, but for a certain class of people it’s the flower budget for a middling dinner party. One of the things great wine does is turn an evening into an event. I’ve spent an awfully lot of money on things I don’t recall half as well as I’d remember cracking into a 155 year-old port.