If you want to wet your whistle instead of your toes, then just across the Noonu atoll, the latest entry in the super luxury properties offers possibly the most sought after liquid refreshment in the world.
In the arms race of the deluxe 5+ stars, the resort wine collection is one of the big guns in the bragging battles. If the under-water rooms are ‘aircraft carriers’ in this tropical superposher rivalry, the wine collections are the ‘nuclear submarines’. Cheval Blanc Randheli’s megaton payload of luxury was not just one, but 6 bottles of what many consider to be the finest bottle of wine in the world – the 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc.
In general, I try to the keep the “Best of the Maldives” categories quite narrowly defined (eg. best clothes hangers, longest left-handed surf break). Esoteric delineations are more easily unique or distinguished. The bigger the category, the more the competition and making it harder determine the stand out selection. Especially, when the bar is raised so high in the epicentre of luxury that is the Maldives. But I will go out on a limb on this one and say, Cheval Blanc Randheli has the best bottle of wine in the Maldives.
Okay, to quote Carl Sagan, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. And the story to these bottles is truly extraordinary …
- Cost – Sheer price is one crude but effective determinant of exclusivity. And one bottle costs as much as a luxury car…for sale on Fine and Rare Wines for a $100,000 (yes, count the zeros). That’s nearly $7,000 a glass or $650 a sip. By comparison, One & Only Reethi Rah’s esteemed ‘new world’ Screaming Eagle seems a relative bargain at a mere snip of $3,000.
- Critics – Though there is no easier way to start an interminable argument than to put a few wine critics in the same room, few dispute the 1947’s elite pedigree. A Slate piece on the wine minces no words in the title of its story on this classic vintage “The Greatest Wine on the Planet”. The author dubs it “the most celebrated wine of the 20th century.” And the subtitle of “How the ’47 Cheval Blanc, a defective wine from an aberrant year, got so good” adds even more colourful backstory to this legendary wine (and a story I am particularly partial to with my other blog on “Embracing Failure”).
- Culture – The wine was immortalised in that Disney classic of culinary genius, “Ratatouille”. The pretentious restaurant critic Anton Ego requests this very bottle (see second 48 in the clip below – unfortunately, Italian was the only version I could find on the web of this scene).
- Cognomen – And well, what a bit of eponymous serendipity! Not only does the resort share the name of the famous Bordeaux chateau, but the resort’s “signature gastronomic” restaurant is named after the vintage itself – “Le 1947”. If not the best bottle of the wine in the Maldives, undoubtedly the best “house brand” bottle!
Mike Steinberger of Slate writes, “It is the wine every grape nut wants to experience before he dies, a wine that even the most jaded aficionados will travel thousands of miles to taste.” And those ‘thousands of miles’ arrive at “Le 1947” in the Maldives.