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For Koch, though, cesium-137 wasn't the smoking gun.The test showed no radioactive elements, meaning the wine was produced before 1945. The killer clue turned out to be on the bottle, not in it.If the Jefferson Bottles are as old as Rodenstock claimed they were, the grapes used to make the wine should not contain any cesium-137.Hubert had used this method to debunk several other supposedly ancient wines [source: Keefe].Legal authorities are systematizing how to punish offenders.Engineers are devising clever systems for keeping track of new bottlings.
Upon his return to America, he continued to order large quantities of Bordeaux for himself and for George Washington, and stipulated in one 1790 letter that their respective shipments should be marked with their initials.
During his first term as President, Jefferson spent seventy-five hundred dollars—roughly a hundred and twenty thousand dollars in today’s currency—on wine, and he is generally regarded as America’s first great wine connoisseur.
(He may also have been America’s first great wine bore.
Jim Elroy learned about a nuclear physicist in France who might hold the key to unlocking the true age of the wine inside the Jefferson Bottles.
The physicist, Philippe Hubert, is an expert in dating objects by detecting levels of cesium-137, a radioactive isotope of the element that didn't exist before the explosion of the first atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.