A bottle of wine from Napoleon III's reign in France almost 150 years ago has sold at auction for a record £147,020. The 1869 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild was sold by Sotherbys in Hong Kong to Chinese investors, along with a series of other vintages. A 2009 blend fetched £3,600, more than three times the price available a few months ago.
The Bordeaux red, which came as a group of three and a grand total of £441,060, has been hailed in some quarters as one of the finest ever made, but critics feared the taste would be little better than vinegar.
However the initial joy at such a high price was tempered by fears that it would push the overall cost of fine vintages further and further out of reach for the majority of drinkers. The cost is being driven, some claim, by a small group in the Far East, with demand now out-stripping supply.
Gary Boom, the head of Bordeaux Index, which specialises in trading fine wines, said in the Telegraph: 'We've already seen that people who can no longer afford Lafite start to buy Mouton, and those who can't afford Mouton, buy Leoville Barton. It goes on down the chain.'
Simon Staples at Berry Bros added: 'It has had an instantaneous effect, with prices of the 2008 Lafite increasing by 40 per cent in 48 hours.Some of the other big houses have gone up in price.'He added: 'Once mainland China wakes up to fine wine, and India too, we will ave a serious shortage of supply. That has to force prices up. 'In five years time I worry that it will be impossible for many drinkers to afford good wine.'