Ok, maybe we won’t “actually” taste the most expensive wine in the world, but we can share the tasting notes of those who have! Grab a glass of some cheap wine… $100 a bottle is cheap, yes?… and let’s go!
After a long day of work there is nothing like a couple of glasses of wine to relax and unwind. Although most are satisfied with five buck chuck, the wealthy and elite enjoy spending lavish amounts of money on the most expensive wines in the world! Some pay exorbitant amounts to own a sought-after bottle simply for status, as an investment, or unsurprisingly often, to simply drink. The price of wine can be affected by several factors, so we’re going to investigate exactly what makes the top 10 most expensive wines ever sold.
What does the most expensive wine in the world taste like?
Pour a glass of your favorite red and join me and don’t worry, I won’t judge if you’re pouring from a box!
Number 10 – Chateau Lafite 1787. This wine sold for one hundred and fifty-six thousand, four hundred and fifty dollars (or a mere $156,450.00), and was once owned by Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson, the third United States President and principal author of the Declaration of Independence was also quite the wine connoisseur. He bought highly sought-after bottles from the regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy. During his time as the ambassador to France, every now and then a bottle claiming to be part of his personal collection would surface for auction, including this elusive red, discovered two hundred years after bottling in a Paris cellar.
The famous wine bore Thomas Jefferson’s initials, so it quite literally had his name on it, so it was pretty hard to argue! (although there has recently been proved that the initials were forged) That may be of some comfort considering publishing mogul Malcolm Forbes of Forbes magazine fame acquired the same Chateau Lafite for that same $156k at a Christie’s auction.
It was displayed at the Forbes gallery, but misfortune struck when the halogen display lights dried out. The cork, which was already slightly askew fell into the bottle and the two-inch descent of the cork rendered the formerly priceless bottle: worthless!
Number 9 – Penfolds Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon -2004 retailing at $168,000! When you think of fine wine, we naturally think of the European countries France and Italy, however, number nine on the list is a one-of-a-kind product from Down Under. Australia’s Famous winery Penfolds is based in Adelaide, a city in southern Australia.
They took an artistic approach when creating this wine, focusing more on the luxurious presentation than the wine itself. The liquid is encased in a glass prism that they call an ampoule. It retails directly from Penfolds for a whopping one hundred and sixty-eight thousand dollars, an almost unheard-of retail price for fine wine, truly unique in its design.
The ampoule bottle possesses no seal and no cork. In fact, it has no traditional cap. The blown glass wine bottle is seated in a carefully made wooden cabinet, giving it quite this stately presentation. In Penfolds words, “the ampoule provides a truly memorable experience and sensory engagement for the price”!
The Penfolds staff recommend that buyers get assistance from their senior winemaking staff to open the bottle. To do so, you must break off the end, a small piece of wood. The operation can easily go awry in the wrong hands but is a stunning showcase of winemaking luxury and fine art. The Cabernet Sauvignon possesses notes of blackcurrant dark chocolate and licorice… yum!
Number 8 – Chateau Margaux, 2009 Balthazar retailing for $ 195,000. The importance is in the details, and no one knows that better than Chateau Margaux. The Chateau Margaux is an extremely famous and prestigious winery in Bordeaux, France. It is known as one of the best wineries on the planet. The estate has been in existence since the 16th century and they are known for their refined winemaking process.
Quite a young wine for the price tag. It is a testament to their opulence. They produced only six bottles of their 2009 Balthazar, (a single bottle that literally holds a case of wine!) with several special touches. The 12 litre bottles are set in a beautiful custom oak box. Symbolizing the oak barrels deep in the wineries, real gold letters, and a label hand engraved by a goldsmith, buying a bottle not only gives you the wine but a whole experience.
The purchaser is flown first class to France to visit the Chateau, as well as a private tour of the vineyard and cellars. This is followed by a dinner hosted by Paul Pontellier, chief winemaker and managing director of Chateau Margaux. This Bordeaux was exclusively offered at the Electra Dubai flagship store out of the Dubai Airport where three of the six bottles in existence have already sold… talk about dropping money at duty-free! If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a glass you’ll experience notes of coffee, toast, almonds, black fruit, and flowers.
Number 7 – Chateau, Margot 1787 priced at $ 225,000. Next on the list is yet another production of the famed Chateau Margot, albeit a couple of centuries earlier, all the way back in 1787. It was also claimed to have been part of Jefferson’s personal collection and, like number 10 on the list, it also met in ill-fate in 1989. A New York wine merchant Williams Sullivan was the proud owner of the highly coveted Chateau Margaux 1787. He claimed the value was close to a half a million dollars to celebrate the arrival of the bottle to New York at the Four Seasons Manhattan.
The bottle was proudly displayed, but fate struck when a clumsy waiter fell and shattered the bottle completely. No one was ever able to take even a single sip. Fortunately, the wine was insured, but the insurance company valued it at 225,000, rather than Sullivan’s projected half-million. Much to his dismay, he put the empty and broken bottle up for auction, beginning the bidding at $30,000. It ended up only being sold for $100, which was donated to charity. The universe just seems to have a special vengeful spirit against Jefferson’s old collection!
Number 6 – Chateau Lafite, 1869 sold for two hundred and thirty-three thousand dollars. (yup, $233,000!) Next up on the list is a wine created by a winery owned by the Rothschilds, who are considered to be the richest family in the world, owning dozens of companies, wineries and more around the planet. Chateau Lafite has been producing wine since the 17th century and has a reputation as being one of the greatest winemaking estates.
The Chateau Lafite 1869 was the first to be Chateau bottled at Lafitte and was the first vintage under the ownership of Baron James de Rothschild. All of this lends to its historical significance in the wine scene furthering its value. It is an extremely luxurious status symbol among the elite, and estimated prices range from sixty to eighty thousand, but an anonymous collector bought all three bottles of the 1869 for two hundred and thirty-three thousand each, spending a staggering six hundred and ninety thousand dollars overall. $699,000! (was here a $1k tip to round it off?)
Given the rarity of this item, few have had a taste, which is said to possess substantial cherry flavor, a bit of Roquefort, and a pleasantly dry finish. Not quite the most expensive wine in the world but we are getting close!
Number 5 – a Heidsieck cuvée called Diamant bleu vintage 1907 sold for two hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars, ($275k) this addition is invaluable due to its stupendous story, which has impressed wine lovers and historians alike.
In 1916, a Swedish freighter was carrying wine and champagne to Russia across the Baltic Sea. Some say the wine was meant for the army, others say the royal court, and others say still that it was destined for the Russian Czar himself. The unlucky boat was hit by a torpedo from a German submarine. The ship, along with the wine, champagne, and the barrels of cognac rested at the bottom of the Baltic Sea with no light whatsoever.
It settled in silt at an estimated 60 to 65 meters below the surface at around 4 degrees Celsius, which is, incidentally, the perfect conditions for a bottle of champagne to remain preserved. In 1997, a Swedish salvaging team found the sunken ship off the coast of Finland and retrieved its cargo.
2,000 wonderful bottles were saved. One bottle sold at an auction for two hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars. With the historical significance, and an unprecedented discovery bolstering the high price tag, it was asked if it was drinkable. Several bottles of the unearthed champagne have been tasted, tasting like incredibly mature champagne with notes of roasted nut and toast. Another bottle, which most likely had seaweed seepage, tasted of oyster shell and french onion soup. (with or without the melted cheese?)
Number 4 – Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947 sold for three hundred and four thousand, three hundred and seventy-five dollars. (or only $304,375.00) Chateau Cheval Blanc is easily one of the most well-renowned wineries in the world.
Having received the exclusive premier Grand Cru class, and a range in the classification of Saint-Emilion wine in 2012, their 1947 Bordeaux is considered to be the best Bordeaux ever made. Despite the unusual circumstances surrounding the “great growth” in 1947… it was extremely hot weather, roasting the grapes in the chateau and rendering many of them to raisins.
Many other winemakers in the region struggled with the fermentation process, but Chateau Cheval Blanc went outside the box to salvage what they had. They used ice in their processing and changed some of their methods and were able to produce a few vats of precious wine. It proved to be a blessing in disguise as the technical flaws and bad weather gave it a distinct taste that can never be replicated. Famed wine critic Robert Parker has described the taste as mind-boggling.
A six-liter bottle of this unique Bordeaux was sold at a Christie’s auction in Geneva for three hundred and four thousand three hundred and seventy-five dollars to an anonymous private collector. (what, only $304,375.00?) Startled auctioneers who estimated it would go for only around a hundred and fifty thousand sat in disbelief… and reveled at their commissions!
FUN FACT! In the Disney Film Ratatouille, the nemesis Anton Ego ordered this wine for his dinner! The flavor is said to have notes of fruitcake, chocolate, leather, coffee, and Asian spices!
Number 3 – Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945… as we reach the top of this list, we find yet another wine produced from a vineyard owned by the Rothschild family and bought around or about 1853. They’re known for creating highly sought-after and expensive wines. Their 1945 is known for its historically prevalent labeling as much as its exquisite taste produced shortly after the end of World War II.
The Rothschilds wished to commemorate the Allies victory and they hired a young French artist who based the label on British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s “V for victory”. This began a tradition at the Chateau. Every new wine had a label designed by an up-and-coming artist. They don’t get paid in money, but rather with ten cases of the exquisite wine! Auctioneers were stunned when a bottle sold for three hundred and ten thousand, seven hundred dollars to a collector. (that’s $310,700!)
Perhaps they were both a wine lover and world war two buff. The label definitely gives the 1945 special character, but the taste is fantastic in its own right, given a perfect score by many wine enthusiasts it has notes of exotic black fruits, tobacco, coffee, and Asian Spices.
Number 2 – Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992, sold for a half a million dollars, although it may come as a surprise that the number two most expensive wine on our list was produced in the United States, founded in Oakville California, by a former real estate agent in 1986. Screaming Eagle possesses cult-like status amongst wealthy wine enthusiasts known for its small, but exquisite yearly productions.
They were put on the map by wine critic Robert Parker who gave them a nearly perfect score and they’re now easily the most famous winery in the United States! Their 1992 production was only available for a limited time in 1995, making it even more coveted… and where a six-liter bottle was donated by screaming Eagle for a Napa Valley charity auction in 2000, where billionaire David Lee won with a bid of $ 500,000.
He had just sold his Internet company for 3.5 billion dollars and apparently was looking to expand his wine collection, quoted by Reuters, saying “he spent a little bit at the auction” in reference to the half a million he spent on the wine. If you want to secure wine from the famed California winery get in line, the waiting period to get on their mailing list has been estimated to take 12 years, but perhaps by then, you may have saved up enough to actually afford a bottle.
The 2009 Cabernet has an opaque purple color and there’s notes of jammy blackcurrant, toasty oak cream, and tasty cassis fruit!
Number one – The Romanee Conti 1945 sold for five hundred and fifty-eight thousand dollars! ($550,000.00) Number one on the list is both expensive and Extremely rare, known as the unattainable “unicorn wine” amongst wine enthusiasts and collectors. Jamie Richey, worldwide head of wine for Sotheby’s, was quoted saying “if you want to drink the world’s, most special bottle of wine. this is it!”.
Romanée-conti, also known as DRC is an iconic vineyard in Burgundy, France, and has much mystique concerning their process. They’re known for having the absolute best Burgundy’s and are famous to the point of drawing criminals. Someone even held the vineyards for ransom, threatening to destroy the precious fields if he wasn’t given 1 million euros! Given the status of the winery, the authorities took it quite seriously, and thankfully the extortionist was caught.
The 1945 Burgundy is extremely unique, given the circumstances surrounding its growth. 1945 was quite a hot year and reduced the salvageable grapes. Only 600 bottles were manufactured, it’s extremely rare, and the weather conditions gave it a flavor that can’t be reproduced.
Additionally, this was the last crop of wine made by Romanée-Conti for several years after its production. An infestation of pests destroyed the growth of the vineyard, causing them to rip out the vines. This is the holy grail for wine collectors, given the tiny production of just 600 bottles, the historical significance in France of 1945 at the end of world war II, and the fact the vineyards were ripped up and replanted.
The unicorn wine was purchased in 2019 for 558 thousand dollars (aye aye! $558,000!) by a private Asian collector at a Sotheby’s sale in New York and is surely the envy of wine collectors everywhere! According to many experts, he does in fact intend to drink the wine. That’s only around $93,000 a glass!
So there, you have the 10 most expensive wines ever sold! What about you? What do you like to drink when you’re perched up by the fireplace? Please share below, or join our new Facebook group found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/623078211687396
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