Benjamin Wallace, Jefferson wine hoax author, speaks at Monticello

Benjamin Wallace, Jefferson wine hoax author, speaks at Monticello

Detailing what he called "the longest-running mystery in the modern wine world," author and magazine writer Benjamin Wallace talked to an after-work crowd at Monticello last night about his book, "The Billionaire’s Vinegar," providing colorful commentary about faked old wine said to have belonged to Thomas Jefferson and the $156,000 price tag that it commanded. The talk was one of the first "cabinet" events that Monticello has opened to the general public, and all 100 $35 tickets were sold out, according to Leslie Greene Bowman, president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

Addressing an audience that included local wine professionals, well-heeled real estate developers, capital managers, and Monticello loyalists, Wallace brought to life such ready-for-Hollywood figures as the villainous con man Hardy Rodenstock and the much-beloved elderly wine expert Michael Broadbent. But it was Monticello Senior Researcher Cinder Stanton for whom Wallace saved his fondest appreciation, noting that based on his habit of meticulous record-keeping, Stanton had reasoned that the supposed 1787 Chateau Lafite "couldn’t have been Jefferson’s bottles."

Will Smith has purchased the film rights for "The Billionaire’s Vinegar" and Wallace said that "Jurassic Park" screenwriter David Koepp is working on the script.

Inspired by "The Red Violin," author Benjamin Wallace said he wanted to "tell the story of a red bottle of wine." He did all that and more in "The Billionaire’s Vinegar."

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