What is the Most Expensive Wine in the World?

To purchase the most expensive bottle of wine in the world, you need to have upwards of $558,000. That’s how much the 1945 Romanée-Conti Grand Cru sold for.

Everyone knows that a good vintage is worth a lot of money. However, you may be surprised at just how much a quality bottle of wine can sell for.

The most expensive bottle of wine ever sold is the 1945 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti Grand Cru. It sold at Sotheby’s in 2018 for a grand total of $558,000.

There are several factors which have led to this wine becoming legendary enough to factor such a huge price tag. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is a small estate in Burgundy, world renowned for the quality of wine it produces.

The 1945 is a particularly fabled year. Hot weather allowed the grapes to ferment, creating a concentrated wine. Then, the terrible frosts came. With foul weather preventing production, there were only ever 600 bottlings.

Very few of these are still around today, and wine collectors are more than curious. Those who’ve tried it have described the taste using every superlative you can imagine. Deep, complex, and exotic seems to sum it up. 

The second most expensive bottle of wine ever sold is the 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon. However, it does come with an asterisk.

While the small production of high quality wines from Screaming Eagle have led them to be much desired, this one had a boost. The massive $500,000 it auctioned for was at a charity event in 2000.

While undoubtedly this is a fantastic wine, the price was almost certainly boosted by charitable leanings. The average bottle of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon does still sell for several thousand dollars.

To try a bottle of 1945 Jeroboam of Château Mouton-Rothschild, it could set you back $310,700. At least, that’s what it sold at auction for.

Marked with a distinctive ‘V’, to signal the allied victory in the Second World War, this is considered one of the greatest wines produced in the last century.

The terrible conditions that led to the creation of the 1947 Cheval Blanc is one of the few reasons behind the mystique of this wine. Terrible weather left crops ruined, fermentation halted, and wine cellars badly damaged.

The result? Somehow, a technically flawed wine with a taste like no other. Due to the bizarre circumstances leading to its creation, this is a wine with a flavor that will never be replicated.

Other expensive wines include a Heidsieck Champagne that sold for $275,000. A surprising cost, seeing as no one knew if it would be drinkable.

This 1907 champagne was rescued in 1998 from the wreckage of a torpedoed Swedish Freighter. Wines owned by Thomas Jefferson have also fetched a hefty price at auction, including a 1787 Château Lafite, and a 1787 Château Margaux.

The most expensive white wine ever sold is the 1811 Château D’Yquem. This is considered by many to be the greatest white ever produced. Although, with an auction price of $117,000, only a few will ever be lucky enough to try it.

While these wines were all sold at auction, there are expensive wines that are on the market. Wine-searcher keeps an extensive list of expensive wines that are for sale, with a few big names tending to top the list.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti make an appearance with a (slightly) more affordable Romanée-Conti Grand Cru. The Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru is another popular choice from the Cotes de Nuits.

Henri Jayer wines are renowned for their elegance, and are often near the top of the list. High ranking whites can also be found, with the Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Trochenbeerenauslese selling for an average of $16,000.

These might be the most expensive wines at the moment, but you can expect the prices to keep on going up. Rare vintages are only getting rarer, and the wine market is ever expanding. It might not be long now until we see the world’s first $1 million bottle of wine.

What makes a bottle of wine so expensive?

While it may seem impossible to many of us, it really is the flavor that gives a wine it’s price tag. But in order to get to a layered and complex wine, there are several factors to consider. This is where that extra price tag comes in.

First off, the grapes have to be grown. Grapes don’t just grow anywhere, there are certain conditions that need to be met. To grow the best grapes to make the best wine, these limited conditions become even more exacting.

A truly expensive wine will have come from a vineyard that grows the very best grapes. Once you’ve found the right terrain (which will be costly), it isn’t just a case of sitting back and letting things grow.

An excellent vineyard will aim to have as few grapes as possible on the vine. Why? Those couple of grapes will have a more intense flavor than an entire bunch.

Then, the wine needs to be aged. To do this in the optimal way, oak barrels are necessary. Oak allows oxygen to reach the wine while imparting a desirable ‘oak’ taste.

When the tannins in wine are exposed to oxygen, they lose some of their intensity. This allows the wine to take on a richer, deeper flavor.

Finally, an expensive wine takes time. At least, a red one does. A red needs to sit and mature so that the flavorings can grow body. Aging a red wine reduces the impact of tannins and acids, for a smoother tasting experience.

Meanwhile, as the wine sits and ages in its oak barrels, no more wine can be produced. The most expensive red wines are limited purely by the necessities involved in making them.

Of course, the bottles of wine that go for tens of thousands tend to have a history attached to them for extra desirability.

Christina Day
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