Thoughts on "Unicorn Wines"?

Levi Dalton’s most recent article on super-hard-to-find wines championed by the NYC Somm set was interesting:

He lists his “Top 13 Unicorn Wines” – who else ought to be on this list?

My pre-arrivals from PC ?

Rene Engel
Noel Verset

Perhaps, though the article is more focused on wines that are still being made, but are extraordinarily hard to acquire.

Within Burgundy, there are some pretty famous examples:

Faiveley Musigny
Leflaive Montrachet
DRC Batard
Chateau de la Tour Homage a Jean Morin

while this is clearly a list of reputable producers i think it is just a hype piece to justify crazy nyc markup. I would not consider any of these wines except maybe roumier musigny to be unicorn wines. the rest of the production numbers on these producers is fairly substantial. arnaud ente makes as much aligote as selosse makes substance. in recent vintages yields have been as low as 16 hl/ha. these wines are hard to find because there are so few bottles but there really is not a demand. however there is a large demand for raveneau and coche which allows the prices to keep rising. it almost has nothing to do with rarity.

I dunno, most of these are pretty easy to find (at least some of the bottlings)

I was very surprised not to see Soldera…

Yes, most of those are not unicorn wines. Pull out your wallet and you can generally obtain them.


Yeah, agreed. Most of these are just not that hard to get. But, for that audience, and those styles of wine, these may be more difficult than most. They are not looking for SQN, Le Pin, etc.

I guess there are no unicorn wines then… If you put enough money on the table, you can get any bottle, but I don’t think that’s the point.


This seems to be simply about wines currently in vogue but scarce in the ny restaurant distribution system. a contextual, not universal unicorn.

Can’t you say that about any wine?

I used to drink a lot of those before getting priced/allocated out.

Some (e.g., Coche) I could never afford and others are newer wines.

I think if you’re going to talk unicorn wines they should be specific bottles. A few bottles that come to mind for me are:
Didier Dagueneau Asteroid (pre-2007)
1984 Chateau Musar Rouge
2002 Patricia Green Singularity

Basically wines that exist…but you have to know someone or be lucky as hell to get some.

But not in this context. The context for this article are current release wines that are very hard to source for NY restaurants and are in heavy demand at the same.

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Sure, but it’s a matter of degree and most of these aren’t that difficult to obtain.


To me, a unicorn wine is one that you essentially never see offered and you need to have a connection in order to obtain. In the US, Overnoy/Houillon might qualify, but things like Dauvissaut, Raveneau, Rougeard do not.

As Scott mentioned above, the article was mainly talking about wines that are scarce in the restaurant distribution system. However, it also described unicorn wines as “the once in a lifetime bottles that every sommelier dreams of drinking, and bragging about, before they die”.


Doesn’t one need to differentiate wines made in minute quantities, such as the best TBAs where only 50 litres or so might be made, from much larger production wines that just dissipate to private collectors hands.