Benjamin Wallace

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Now in Paperback!

With a new epilogue


“It is the fine details—the bouquet, the body, the notes, the finish–that make this book such a lasting pleasure, to be savored and remembered long after the last page is turned. Ben Wallace has told a splendid story just wonderfully, his touch light and deft, his instinct pitch-perfect. Of all the marvelous legends of the wine trade, this curiously unforgettable saga most amply deserves the appellation: a classic.”

SIMON WINCHESTER, author of The Professor and the Madman and A Crack in the Edge of the World

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It was the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold.

In 1985, at a heated auction by Christie’s of London, a 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux—unearthed in a Paris cellar and supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson—went for $156,000 to a member of the Forbes family. The discoverer of the bottle was Hardy Rodenstock, a pop-band manager turned wine collector with a knack for finding extremely old and exquisite wines. But rumors about the bottle 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? Pursuing the story from London to Zurich to Munich and beyond, Benjamin Wallace offers a mesmerizing history of wine and of Jefferson’s wine-soaked days in France. Suspenseful, witty, and thrillingly strange, this is the vintage tale of what could be the most elaborate con since the Hitler diaries.

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The Billionaire’s Vinegar is the ultimate page-turner. Written with literary intelligence, it has a cast of characters like something out of Fawlty Towers meets The Departed. It takes you into a subculture so deep and delicious, you can almost taste the wine that turns so many seemingly rational people into madmen. It is superb nonfiction.”

BUZZ BISSINGER, author of Friday Night Lights

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