US /

Man 'Shocked' by Value of Old Wine Bottle in His Basement

The jeroboam of pinot noir, purchased for $250 in the late 1970s, could fetch $80K at auction
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2023 11:10 AM CDT
Wine Purchased for $250 Could Now Fetch $80K
Mark Paulson's Domaine de la Romanee Conti La Tache 1971.   (Bonhams Skinner)

For Mark Paulson, $250 seemed like a lot of money to pay for a bottle of wine in the late 1970s—even a big bottle of some of the finest wine in the world. But he didn't hesitate and he certainly doesn't regret the purchase now that the bottle of pinot noir is valued as high as $80,000. After serving in Vietnam with the Navy, Paulson moved to San Francisco, fell in with a group of hippies, and joined a wine-tasting club. Most Americans were drinking liquor and beer at the time, but Paulson became friendly with the club's organizer, Roger Brandt, a liquor store owner who offered fine wines at cost, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

"It was just amazing how many he had, and the prices were all reasonable," the 72-year-old retiree tells the Washington Post. Still, $250 seemed like a lot of money to pay for 3 liters of wine, even if it was a jeroboam of 1971 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache. But Brandt "kind of insisted" Paulson buy the bottle, saying it was a "once-in-a-lifetime thing," he tells the Post. As the Chronicle reports, many experts consider Domaine de la Romanee-Conti in France's Burgundy region to be "the greatest winery on Earth," and one particularly gifted at producing pinot noir. Paulson, however, never popped the bottle. In fact, he dropped his wine habit over the ensuing decades as his salary as a commercial painter didn't allow for him "to drink high-end wines and raise four kids."

All the while, the jeroboam remained in a box in Paulson's basement. For awhile, he thought he'd save it for his daughter's wedding. But when a man recently offered to buy it for $5,000, Paulson's son did some digging and found an article about the same bottle selling for $81,250 at a Bonhams Skinner auction in October. "We were shocked ... flabbergasted," Paulson tells the Post. "We just kind of hugged each other and smiled a lot." Paulson says he'll give his son "a big fat commission" of $10,000 when the bottle sells at a Bonhams Skinner auction this month, per the Chronicle. The bidding starts at $50,000. (More wine stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.