As a lover of red wine, it has taken me time (and a lot of glasses) to taste the difference between a $15 and $50 bottle of wine. The wines on this list, however, break just about everyone’s bank.
The seven most expensive bottles of red wine are so pricey for several reasons, and chief among them is their taste.
Some of the wines on this list the lucky few have had the opportunity to taste, and a combination of supply and demand, as well as excellent, high-quality winemaking, contribute to their cost.
Yet some of the older (and we’re talking centuries older) bottles are not even drinkable anymore.
I would not want to open up a bottle from the late 18th century, but I can measure its value in historical context. Who wouldn’t want to own a bottle of wine with a Founding Father’s initials on it?
Most Expensive Red Wine
Read on to learn about the most expensive bottles of red ever sold – you’ll be shocked at sone of these prices.
Chateau Lafite 1787
The Chateau Lafite is one of the world’s most expensive red wines, and for good reason.
The vineyard has been operating since well before the 14th century: early mentions of the Lafite family were in 1234.
The vineyard began excelling in their craft after they caught the attention of the French King Louis XV.
Starting in the late 19th century, the Rothschild family took over the business and has been operating the vineyard ever since.
This particular vintage also built a name for itself (and probably the high price tag) because of some historical initials etched into the side of the bottles: Th. J, for Thomas Jefferson. The Lafite was Jefferson’s preferred wine.
In 1985, this bottle sold for $156,000.
Screaming Eagle Cabernet 1992
Screaming Eagle Cabernet has earned its spot on this list by being America’s most expensively produced wine.
Though the Screaming Eagle vineyard has only been around since the mid-1980s (in comparison with Chateau Lafite’s centuries-long stake in this business), its first ever produced bottle received a rating of 99 points by wine critic Robert Parker.
This near-perfect rating for a relatively new and unknown Napa-valley vineyard sky-rocketed the cabernet’s price and popularity.
It also helps that Screaming Eagle produces a very limited number of bottles per year and that it is incredibly tasty.
Though Screaming Eagle produces mostly red wines, there is a small patch dedicated to Sauvignon Blancs. The white wine bottles from Screaming Eagle also sell at a high premium.
This bottle of red has sold for anywhere from $8000 to $50,000.
Chateau Margaux 1787
Chateau Margaux is a vineyard in Bordeaux, a city in south east of France.
While Chateau Margaux has produced consistently lauded vintages of wine since the early 1990s, it is their 1787 bottle that racks up the price.
This particular bottle also features Thomas Jefferson’s initials. It seems that America’s third president was a wine connoisseur, and the historical value of his initials increased the price of this Margaux bottle to be one of the most expensive bottles of wine ever sold.
The estate of Margaux has retained extraordinary consistency over the centuries. In 1680, there were 75 hectares for grape growing. Today, there are just 80 hectares.
This bottle has reportedly sold for $225,000.
Cheval Blanc 1947 Saint-Emilion
1947 was a good wine year for Southern France, as their high-temperature summer created excellent grape crops.
After nearly perfect weather in April-on, Cheval Blanc began harvesting their grapes in September.
The weather increased the sugar levels in the grapes, which created tasty wines with high alcohol content.
The process by which the winemaker created this vintage was so unorthodox that the 1947 vintage should have been a total flop. Despite this maverick style, the bottle was tasty as it was profitable.
The Saint-Emilion’s 1947 Cheval Blanc is lush and porty. Even though this bottle pairs well with a hearty meal, I liked drinking it as a dessert wine; the high-sugar content from that excellent summer made it tasty on its own.
The price of this bottle is estimated to cost between $3000 and $28,000.
Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1951
The first Australian wine on this list, Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1951 is the most expensive Australian wine ever sold.
Very few bottles remain from the 1951 Penfolds Grange Shiraz vintage, largely because the Penfolds Grange board told winemaker Max Shubert to shut down production.
Thankfully for wine enthusiasts everywhere, Shubert did not listen.
Shubert was inspired by the methods and practices he saw of French winemaking on a trip to Europe in 1950.
No doubt those methods influenced his 1951 Shiraz that broke Australian records at a 2020 auction, selling for $104,000.
Shubert combined many techniques for his first experimental vintage to ungrateful reception. Production shut down.
From 1957 to 1960, Shubert produced his wine in secret, and eventually achieved his comeuppance when production restarted and Penfolds Grange went on to achieve 100 scores on future bottles.
Domaine de la Romanee-Coti 1990
Domaine de la Romanee-Coti is a Burgundy winemaking vineyard.
Burgundy sits to the east of France, close to the country’s shared borders with Switzerland and Germany.
Domaine de la Romanee-Coti (abbreviated to DRC) relies on high-quality precision and excellence paired with supply and demand cheats to create some of the most expensive bottles of wine ever produced.
The Romanee-Coti vintage from 1990 is one of the most delicious wines I’ve ever tasted.
Achieving ratings in the high 90s from the top wine critics in the world, the 1990 Romanee-Coti contains hints of Asian spices, earthy tannins, and smoky oaks.
You can find this bottle for around $3000.
Domaine Leroy Richebourg Grand Cru 1949
Domaine Leroy is a winemaking estate in France.
The Leroy family-owned vineyards in Auxey-Duresses, Meursault, Pommard, Chambertin, Musigny, Clos Vougeot, and, notably, Richebourg, the area that produced this 1949 vintage Grand Cru.
In the late 1980s, Henri Leroy’s daughter took over the family business. Under her leadership, the Domaine has 99 acres of vineyards, over which the family can better control vineyard quality and growth.
One attribute to Domaine Leroy’s astronomical success is their attention to detail and care in their vineyards. They replace plants vine by vine, rather than by entire vineyards.
The 1949 Richebourg Grand Cru achieved a 98 score. A bold Pinot Noir, this wine is rich and explosive in its flavors.
This bottle is estimated to cost anywhere from $8000 to $15,000.
Most Expensive Red Wine
- Chateau Lafite 1787
- Screaming Eagle Cabernet 1992
- Chateau Margaux 1787
- Cheval Blanc 1947 Saint-Emilion
- Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1951
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 1990
- Domaine Leroy Richebourg Grand Cru 1949
For those interested in experimenting with wine investing, you can imagine how wine is a long game – as evidenced by how old some of these bottles are.
Rest assured that if you’re smart and savvy, you can make upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single bottle.
I have been lucky enough to taste the drinkable vintages on this list. Even though I wouldn’t be able to purchase every single bottle, there is nothing quite like sipping a perfectly crafted glass of red knowing that you’re not only tasting excellence but history as well.
Check out other expensive bottles of wine that are certainly not in my budget!
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