Forget big apple, NYC goes for giant wine

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NEW YORK (AP) ­- A wine bottle as tall as a basketball star and nearly as heavy as the New York Giants’ offensive line stopped traffic on Wall Street.

The biggest wine bottle in the world – 6-foot-5 and 1,300 pounds – arrived Thursday from Australia for a quick date with American connoisseurs, with its $3,500 cork keeping the equivalent of 387 regular bottles of Shiraz away from thirsty mouths – indefinitely.

“I’ve gotten lots of offers for it, and I’ve turned down one for $100,000,” said Kim Bullock, the feisty creator of the vinous wonder flown in at a cost of $11,000 round trip, to return home Friday evening.

As snow descended on Wall Street at lunchtime, traffic stopped while a forklift hoisted the mammoth box in which the well-padded bottle was shipped. A dozen muscular men huffed, puffed, pushed and pulled, using a dolly and an iron pry bar to inch the prized package through the brass doors of the Cipriani Wall Street ballroom.

Opening the box involved a quick run to the local hardware store; Australian bolts apparently didn’t fit American wrenches.

The bottle was the centerpiece of a show featuring all things Australian, oenological, culinary and cultural – part of a nationwide marketing effort dubbed “G’day USA: Australian Week.”

The saga of Bullock’s bottle reaches across three continents.

As owner of a liquor store in Albany, Australia, he had commissioned the glass bottle itself to be crafted in Germany. The cork was cut and hand carved from a tree in Portugal.

Bullock then said to five fine winemakers in Australia’s Great Southern region, “Here it is, boys! What are we going to do?”

What they did was mix their best types of Shiraz grapes into a single 2005 vintage, calling their collective vineyard Five Virtues.

“This bottle is my baby. I’ve christened it Albany,” Bullock announced on Wall Street. “They’ve got the magnum and the maximus – all these Latin names for big bottles. So why not a native Australian name people can understand?”

The Albany’s huge label cost $1,500 to manufacture, and the box in which the bottle was flown to New York cost $7,500.

Besides the nearly 64 gallons it holds, Bullock and his buddies produced 12,000 normal-size bottles of their blend, which they’re marketing.

The Albany beats out what was previously the world’s largest wine bottle – a 4.5-foot-tall Beringer Vineyards 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon from California, auctioned by Sotheby’s in 2004 to a New Jersey buyer for $55,812. Dubbed the Maximus, it holds 175 regular bottles of wine.

On Thursday, it was Albany’s turn as the world’s whopper of a wine.

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