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Inside New York’s Exclusive Billionaire Wine Tastings

Mark Oldman: $20,000 a bottle at least.

Maybe $30,000 a bottle.

Welcome to the Wine Sanctuary.

Emily Christian: Today, we are getting an inside look

into one of New York City's most exclusive

wine-tasting experiences.

We are stepping into the Wine Sanctuary of Mark Oldman,

a world-renowned wine expert with a personal collection

that he says is worth over half a million dollars.

A private tasting with Mark is an experience

usually reserved for A-list wine lovers

willing to shell out up to $3,000 a ticket.

But today, Mark's going to teach me

how to taste like a billionaire.

[Mark groans] Emily: I did it.

Mark: You're killing me.

Emily: I talked about wine.

Mark: Honestly, I've been on the scene in New York

ever since I taught my wine seminars in SoHo 25 years ago.

I've gone to countless wine tastings.

Even though sometimes I teach very illustrious wines,

at my heart I'm an anti-snob,

and I want people to feel comfortable around wine.

Château d'Yquem 1937.

Some say this is the best year of the best dessert wine.

These are Henri Jayer,

the godfather of all Burgundy winemakers.

They look like humble bottles,

but this would probably be

$20,000 a bottle at least,

maybe $30,000 a bottle.

The name is Richebourg, and you could say

this is the ultimate riche beverage.

This is Madeira

from 1933.

1933 was the year of the repeal of Prohibition.

Emily: Mark's "Drink Like a Billionaire" wine tastings

are named after his newest book.

They are a bespoke series of group events

ranging from $499 all the way up to $3,000 a person

that aim to teach anyone wanting to

broaden their vocabulary in the world of wine.

Mark: "Like a Billionaire" tastings, most of them are here

at my Wine Sanctuary.

And I built this, brick by brick,

furnishing by furnishing,

to be a cozy getaway

from the velocity of life.

I've had no end of celebrities, sports figures,

many illustrious people come through here.

Billionaires want the best of everything,

but they don't necessarily order

from the reserved list at a restaurant.

They want to economize, just like everyone else.

So, part of my job is to help people figure out

what they like and what they don't like.

While giving them a framework.

Opening people's eyes to the possibilities in wine

is what I'm all about.

Emily: I sat down with Mark to experience

one of his tastings firsthand

and hopefully pick up a few useful tips along the way.

Mark: I want to show you how different

various styles of a particular wine can be.

I mean, that's one of the great lessons

that my clients learn, that there are different

manifestations depending on

the sunshine in the region and the soil and so forth.

So, we have two sauvignon blanc,

and then you spin it, then you smell it.

Try that.

Tilt it right in.

Nose in.



Emily: Hmm.

Is that part of it?

Mark: Yeah, yeah.

If you want to double the magnitude of the smell,

cover the wine with your hand.

Emily: Also it helps any splash that may happen.

Mark: Exactly.

Smell it.

And what's the difference when you smell it now?

Emily: It's stronger.

Mark: Much stronger. Emily: It is much stronger!

Mark: Lid it, smell it, and then drink.

Both: Mm.

Mark: Do not drink sequentially.

Drink simultaneously.

Emily: Ooh.

Mark: Now go back to that one.


For two different sauvignon blancs...

Emily: I like how I'm just getting to drink two wines.

Mark: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

So, what's the difference between these two?

Emily: This one seems crisper to me, a little lighter.

Mark: Completely.

Emily: And this one's, like, creamier.

[Mark groans] Emily: I did it!

Mark: You're killing me.

Emily: I talked about wine.

Mark: Let's show you a porrón.

In Spain, they're really into celebration.

What we're going to do, you can do it with any wine,

but I like white wine because it doesn't stain.

Emily: Right, 'cause there's a high-percentage chance

that I'm gonna spill something.

Mark: Yeah, let me just show you how it's done.

So, what you do is you start it

with the spout close to your mouth,

and then you arc it out like a Roman fountain.

Emily: OK.


Oh, I'm going to mess that up.

I'm a little nervous.

Mark: So, close, and then tilt it towards you.

Excellent, and then up, up.

Oh, that's good for your first time, that's amazing.

Emily: This is my new favorite way to drink wine.

I'm all in. I'm all in on the porrón.

Wow, beautifully done.

Beautifully done.

Mark: Excellent. Yeah.

Oh, perfect!

And what I like to show my clients

is that pinot noir actually tastes better,

and lighter reds and sometimes for some people all reds,

when it has a bit of a chill.

I know it might seem like you're a philistine.

But no, no, no.

Emily: I'm really excited for what you're about to do.

Mark: Order a little thing of ice.

And here we go.

And waiters who are truly wine-savvy

will know what we're doing and not have a problem with it.

Emily: This makes me feel justified about things that

I've done before in the safety of my own apartment.

Mark: There are those purists who have dilution anxiety,

so what you can do is leave it in

let's say 30 seconds and fish it out.

Emily: That way it doesn't get watered down.

Mark: Right. Emily: I see, I see.

Mark: But we're all friends here.

Emily: Yeah, we're going to leave it in

because I've done that before and it tastes good.

Mark: So try, oh yeah, so let's try your pinot

when it's cooler.

And you see how the flavors are focused?

Emily: Yes.

Mark: It's more refreshing.

Emily: Yes. I really like wine.

This is a really good day for me.

Mark: So, for the final test, to see if you've really

learned how to be a wine connoisseur,

is we are going to pour Champagne

against non-Champagne bubbly

and see if you can taste which is the Champagne.

Emily: So, I know Champagne only means the wine

that comes from the region of Champagne, correct?

Mark: Precisely.

But only those grapes, from that region,

can be called Champagne.

Everything else is sparkling wine,

or cava or prosecco, yeah.

Emily: I'm ready.

Mark: You're ready.

Emily: I'm ready.

And look at this. A blindfold.

Mark: So, I'm pouring two cava.

Cava is basically what they call Champagne in Spain.

Emily: What should I be tasting to know that it's Champagne?

Mark: Does it taste perhaps higher quality?

Often, Champagne has a certain yeasty,

and I mean that in a good way,

baked-bread quality to it.

And so the question is,

does one of these have that extra dimension.

Emily: OK.

Mark: So, two Spanish cava, one Champagne.

Like a shell game, I'm going to move these around.

One of the cava has a bit of rosé,

just to make it even more difficult.

Hold on. Wait, wait, wait.

Try, try, go to this one.

No, no, to your left.

Yeah, lid it, spin it.

Another thing about real Champagne is the bubbles,

the texture tend to be pinpoint,

they're not bigger.

They don't slap you around like a Canada Dry.

They have a kind of creamy texture.

Emily: This to me feels like the Canada Dry.

I'm ready for the next one.

Mark: Your second is right here.

Is this the Champagne, or is it the cava?

We don't know, you're going to have to test it out.

Emily: It smells different than the first.

Mark: Breathe it all in and then taste it.

Emily: I think this is the Champagne.

Mark: Taste it.

Why do you think this is the Champagne?

Emily: It had that yeasty smell,

and it has those creamier bubbles.

I think this is, I haven't tasted a lot

but I think this is it. I feel confident.

Mark: Now try the third.

Emily: This one, this is the rosé.

Mark: Oh!

Emily: Am I right?

Are you kidding me?


Thank you. Mark: I can't believe it.

Emily: I can't believe it!

Mark: We have a $20 Spanish cava

against a $70 real Champagne

versus a cava rosé.

You guessed every single one of these.

Emily: Yes.

Ooh, I knew it!

Mark: It's amazing how people at the very top of wine

truly know how to relax around wine.

As time goes on, you learn to loosen up about it

and that the strict rules you thought were there

are no longer there,

and you can have fun with it

and find out what you truly like.

This is your portable la dolce vita,

and that is maybe the best way to end any wine tasting.

The look on her face says it all.

Emily: Mark has shown me that

to drink with the city's elite,

all it takes is just a little bit of know-how

and a whole lot of knowing how to have a good time.

I think I'm a little tipsy.