A man has told of his shock after discovering a bottle of wine lurking in his basement could be worth up to $80,000.
Mark Paulson, a 72-year-old retired commercial painter and Vietnam War veteran from San Francisco, purchased a jeroboam of Domaine de la Romanee Conti La Tache 1971 shortly after its release in the 1970s for $250.
The self-described punk rocker said it was expensive at the time – the equivalent of around $2,000 in today’s money – but he had been tipped off by the liquor store owner that it was a top tipple and he bought it as an investment.
At one point, he thought he would save the three liter bottle for his daughter’s wedding but when she tied the knot last year, the family believed selling it would be a better move. However, Mark said he was ‘floored’ when he learned of its appreciation.
Mark Paulson from San Francisco, purchased a jeroboam of Domaine de la Romanee Conti La Tache 1971 shortly after its release in the 1970s for $250
The Paulsons went about contacting a specialist wine auction house and the sale of their rare bottle is now being handled by Bonhams Skinner
He thought it might be worth a few thousand dollars and was on the verge of selling it to a buyer for $5,000.
However, when his son decided to double check the average selling price online, the sale was swiftly halted.
The family were amazed to learn that a similar bottle sold at auction in November 2022 for $81,250.
Touching on their surprise, Mark told The Washington Post: ‘We were just, you know, flabbergasted, couldn’t say anything. We just kind of hugged each other and smiled a lot.’
The Paulsons went about contacting a specialist wine auction house and the sale of their rare bottle is now being handled by Bonhams Skinner.
The wine experts believe the bottle of wine could sell for between $50,000 and $80,000 when it goes up for auction online between April 16 and 26.
Louis Krieger, the deputy director of fine wines at Bonhams Skinner, told DailyMail.com that there are various reasons as to why Mark’s bottle is so special.
He explained: ‘There was considerable hail during the 1971 harvest but, because of when and how the vineyards were picked, this La Tache doesn’t show the ill effects.
‘Another thing which pushes the price up is that the production of La Tache that year was staggeringly small with roughly 1,300 cases produced.
The wine experts believe the bottle of wine could sell for between $50,000 and $80,000 when it goes up for auction online between April 16 and 26
In addition to the La Tache, he is auctioning off five vintage Madeiras, with the dates ranging from 1795 to 1870
‘The vast majority of cases were also filled with 750ml bottles and very few three-liter bottles were made.’
In a bid to give his wine cellar a spring clean, Mark has put forward six bottles in total for the April sale.
In addition to the La Tache, he is auctioning off five vintage Madeiras, with the dates ranging from 1795 to 1870.
Mark, who was born and raised in Panama, said he got into collecting wine by mistake, and he would generally stock up on bottles before getting together with his rock ‘n’ roll friends.
He told CBC that some of their wine-fueled night would get ‘pretty crazy.’
‘There was usually about six of us. We’d probably have six bottles of old rare wines,’ he recalled. ‘San Francisco was a whole new world after growing up in the jungle.’
Luckily Mark’s bottle of La Tache went untouched and it remained in his basement for decades.
Asked if he was worried about the bottle smashing, the grandfather said that he was, especially when the 1989 earthquake hit.
He explained: ‘My house sustained some pretty good damage.
‘One of the beams down in the cellar actually snapped but in the area where the wines are… it was all good.’
The only nicks to Mark’s bottle, as highlighted in the auction listing, include a ‘cracked wax capsule’ and some ‘light scuffing.’
One vintage photo, which captures Mark when he first bought the jeroboam, shows the wax seal was originally intact.
He can be seen with the large bottle in one arm, along with his baby son in the other, showing how both are equal in size.
Mark, who admits he’s more of a beer drinker these days, says he plans to mark the sale of his pricey plonk by uncorking another vintage from his collection – a 1959 Chateau Latour.
Meanwhile, his son will get a cut of the sale for discovering the wine’s true worth.