Fine wine at almost $5,000 a bottle

The price tag on this bottle of wine is $4,749.98.

It’s a 2010 Chateau Petrus Pomerol, and the managers at Total Wine & More on Cherry Street said reports indicate the 2010 vintage may turn out to be one of the greatest vintages in the last decade.

Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator, two prestigious wine publications and rating agencies, give the 2010 Chateau Petrus Pomerol a score of 100 out of 100.

Still, who pays almost $5,000 for a bottle of wine?

Nick Krusch, manager at Total Wine & More, answered that, but first he said he wanted to point out that just because the new Milford shop carries this special bottle of wine in a locked case does not suggest the store is pretentious by any means.

Wine prices here start at $2.75 a bottle and travel all the way up to this bottle of Chateau Petrus, making a lot of stops at various price points in between, Krusch said.

The kind of person who would walk in, or likely call first, to buy this wine would probably be an investor or a connoisseur and collector of wines.

“Everybody spends money on something that others scratch their heads at,” said Jason (Jay) Hallam, wine manager at Total Wine & More.

Add to that the fact that in 10 to 15 years there may be a significant increase in the value of this particular bottle of wine, Krusch said, and it becomes a little less mystifying as to why someone might spend almost $5,000 on a bottle of wine.

According to the Total Wine website, Wine Advocate had this to say about the Chateau Petrus Pomerol, 2010: "Loads of mulberry, coffee, licorice and black cherry notes with an overlay of enormous amounts of glycerin and depth. Stunningly rich, full-bodied and more tannic and classic than the 2009, this is an awesome Petrus, but needs to be forgotten for 8-10 years."

Yes, waiting is the key with a bottle of wine like this, the men explained. It will likely be purchased, and then left to sit for about 10 years as it increases in flavor and value.

“It’s an investment,” Krusch said.

At almost $5,000 a bottle, or about $1,000 per glass, the tag still may seem a bit high, but, Hallam pointed out, “There are wines that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

In 1997 a jeroboam (which is a larger bottle) of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945, considered one of the great vintages of the last century, sold to an anonymous bidder at Christie’s in London for $114,614, according to

A 2013 article in The Week reports the sale of a 1787 Chateau Lafite for $156,450, and in 2004, the sale of a 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon for $24,675.

Sitting in the locked case near the 2010 Chateau Petrus Pomerol on Cherry Street is a Coravin for $299, a wine system that keeps the cork in place while allowing the wine to flow, protecting the wine remaining in the bottle from oxidation. The managers at Total Wine said this adds another dimension to that top-end wine purchase: A person can sip a glass now, reseal the bottle, and sip another glass months, even years from now.

There are a number of factors that go into separating an expensive wine from a moderately priced bottle, setting that standard for just who needs a Coravin to protect that liquid investment.

Much is determined by where the wine is from, how it was produced, whether the grapes were hand-picked versus machine-sorted and other variables.

Petrus is very picky about the grapes that go into the blend, Krusch said, explaining that if the grape doesn’t meet the standards, it doesn’t go into the mix. The grapes are grown on a relatively small estate in the Bordeaux region of France.

Tannins, Krusch said as he elaborated on the difference in wines, are an organic element  that cause a number of things to happen in your mouth. If the tannins are young and dry, you pucker. If there are too many tannins they dry out the palate so you can’t taste the fruit, he said.

As the bottle ages, the levels of tannins to fruit level off, until they meet somewhere in the middle.

“And then you can taste all the flavors,” Hallam added.

A $15 bottle of wine, or lower, isn’t going to be as complex as, say, this nearly $5,000 bottle of wine or others at the higher price points.

“They call it layered,” said Hallam. “It’s like a roller coaster of flavors.”

You get “waves and waves of flavor,” added Krusch.

There are 8,000 different kinds of wine here at the Milford store — all different prices, types and from different geographic locations.

“Our buyers go out and try to get as much variety as they can,” Hallam said, pointing out that employee favorites are marked throughout the store with placards. The employees aren’t novice wine consultants, each having gone through at least 150 hours of training, which includes learning about and tasting various wines.

The store hasn’t sold a bottle of this 2010 Chateau Petrus Pomerol yet, but there’s a case in the back to refill the spot if someone does decide to add it to their collection.

The Norwalk Total Wine & More, by the way, did have a big-ticket seller: A $30,000 bottle of Macallan Scotch.

But these men emphasize that they aren’t here to push the expensive bottles, again pointing out that there are bottles at many, many price points.

“We’re here to help people buy wine,” Krusch said. “We’re here making sure they get something they enjoy.”