Jefferson's wine bottles or fakes?





Last month, British wine expert Michael Broadbent filed a libel suit in London against Random House over Benjamin Wallace's best-selling book, The Billionaire's Vinegar. Broadbent, the legendary former head of Christie's wine department, alleges that Wallace defamed him in his gripping whodunit about the so-called Thomas Jefferson bottles—a trove of wines initially said to have belonged to the oenophilic Virginian but now almost universally believed to have been fakes. Three of the bottles, all Bordeaux, were auctioned off by Broadbent in the 1980s, and of the many wine luminaries caught up in this saga, his reputation has suffered the most damage. Broadbent contends that he was falsely depicted in the book as being complicit in a crime. But his suit makes no claims one way or another regarding the authenticity of the wines that he sold, which can be taken as an acknowledgment that the evidence is not in his favor. Broadbent can't undo the fact that he was at the center of what now appears to have been the greatest wine hoax ever perpetrated. By pursuing legal redress, he is simply making it harder for a more considered judgment of his actions to emerge.



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