Winemaking is an ancient practice that originated in the modern country of Georgia in 6000 BCE, spreading quickly to the rest of Europe during the Roman Empire.
Winemaking, in theory, is an incredibly simple process, involving crushing up grapes and letting them ferment over time. Still, wine is one of the most sophisticated and revered alcoholic beverages.
Beer requires a much more complex process and is even older than wine, but the most expensive beer isn’t even a quarter the cost of the most expensive wine bottles.
Wine, unlike beer, has always been a beverage associated with the upper echelon of society, whether it be royalty or clergymen. Wine production is a seasonal process, and unlike beer, it gets better with age.
Every region has a specific species of wine grapes with a proprietary mark to create the most distinctive fine wines.
I’ll go over the most expensive wines in the below list.
Chateau Margaux 1787
Wine production took priority at the Chateau Margaux in the 16th century under the ownership of the Lestonnac Family.
The Chateau Margaux grand vin is a red wine that received Thomas Jefferson’s praise in 1787 when it debuted.
Now, it’s one of the most expensive wine bottles in the world, costing a whopping 225,000 dollars, according to Forbes in 2003.
Since wine only improves with age, you can expect it to cost even more at present.
Romanee-Conti 1945 is a vintage burgundy wine that features four red and one white varieties from the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.
The grapes used to make the Romanee Conti 1945 come from a tiny 4-hectare grand cru vineyard, harvested under the utmost care and sorted individually.
Wine experts call this bottle a unicorn wine because it’s so rare. There were only 600 bottles produced in 1945, many of which have already been consumed.
Plus, it’s not like you can get a vintage wine at your local liquor store or even from the vineyard itself.
Bloomberg reported on a 2018 auction for this rarest of wines wherein a buyer purchased a single bottle for $558,000 dollars.
Screaming Eagle Cabernet 1992
Screaming Eagle Cabernet 1992 is a vintage cabernet from the Napa Valley vineyard Jonata and The Hilt, owned by Stan Kroenke.
The 1992 production of this rare cab only yielded 225 cases, a deliberate move by this exclusive, small-batch wine producer.
Screaming Eagle Cabernet 1992 sells at an estimated price of 23,500 dollars. Of course, there are 2013 bottles available for sale at wine retailers for a fraction of the price, but even they cost over 7,000 dollars.
This cab has notes of oak for the oak barrels in which it ages, along with black currents, black cherry, and berries.
Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947
Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947 is a blend of equal parts Cabernet Franc and merlot from the Bordeaux region and vineyards of the historic Fourcard-Laussac wine-producing family.
Chateau Cheval has since changed owners. The 1947 bottle broke from the mold of Bordeaux wines during the time, with higher alcohol content, acidity, and port-like richness.
Historians agree that Chateau Cheval Blanc was a happy accident, owing to an abnormally hot summer for harvest and fermentation.
Wine buyers still consider it one of the best wines of the 20th century. A bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947 costs up to 305,000 dollars from private vendors.
Chateau D’Yquem 1811
Chateau D’Yquem is one of the world’s most revered wineries in Bordeaux, dating to the 1500s.
Chateau D’Yquem produces white wines, and their notably sweet taste has earned them the highest classification of any white wine on the globe, known as premier cru Superieur.
The Chateau D’Yquem wines are so rare because they use a process called noble rot, a natural process by which the species of grapes gets invaded by a certain bacterium.
The grapes shrivel and produce a precious few drops of delicious wine nectar that becomes the highly coveted bottles of today.
A bottle of vintage 1811 Chateau D’Yquem was recently sold at an auctioned price of $117,000 dollars.
Chateau Lafite 1787
Another wine endorsed by Thomas Jefferson, Chateau Lafite 1787, is a red wine from the Bordeaux region.
It was a prominent bottle for French royalty, making more than one appearance at the table of King Louis XV. Now, you can only find them as auctioned memorabilia from famed collectors.
Thomas Jefferson had one in his collection that was auctioned recently for around $156,000 dollars.
I was under the impression that wine never had an expiration date, getting better with time.
However, Bordeaux wines have a short shelf life and tend to taste worse past a certain age, so this bottle is merely a collectible.
Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1869
Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1896 is a Cabernet Sauvignon-style Bordeaux Pauillac from the Mendoc region and classified as Premier Grand Cru Clase. Chateau Lafite is a centuries-old wine estate as I’ve previously stated, and Chateau Lafite Rothschilds are still in production.
Their wines are characterized as full-bodied and acidic, with spicy notes of:
- Cigar box spice
They still rank in the top 1% of French and Bordeaux wines.
The Wallstreet Journal reported on an auction in which three bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1869 sold for 1.8 million dollars, pricing each individual bottle at roughly $225,000 dollars.
Cheval Blanc St-Emilion 1947
From the Cheval Blanc estate, Cheval Blac St-Emilion 1947 is a red Bordeaux that blends a 50:50 ratio of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Like the Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947, the Cheval Blanc St-Emilion also has a sweeter, more Port-like flavor due to the climactic conditions during an unusually hot summer.
Only 110,000 bottles were produced, making it a rare commodity, thus increasing its market value.
It has the same Grand cru classification as the Chateau Cheval Blanc.
The two wines differ in terms of grapes and soil.
I saw pricing of Cheval Blanc St Emilion 1947 that ranged from $15,000 to $35,000 dollars.
Ampoule from Penfolds
There are only twelve vessels of this fine wine. Each bottle is authenticated, and the glass is blown by a famous artist.
The Penfolds winery recently celebrated 175 years of wine production.
Penfolds claims that this special edition wine comes from a single vineyard that has the oldest continuously producing grape vines.
Plus, each bottle has no cork or screw cap, and with only 12 bottles in existence, it’s the rarest wine on my list. One bottle of Ampoule is priced at around $170,000 dollars.
Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (Jeroboam) 1945
Chateau Mouton-Rothschild is a rare second-growth wine to reach legendary status.
This vintage debuted right after the Second World War ended, no small feat for the Jewish owner Baron Philippe de Rothschild.
Mouton is a small 51-hectare vineyard that was actually under the leadership of the Nazis when this Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux was produced.
It was also a rare wine because it didn’t use oak barrels for aging due to wartime scarcity. It has a deep color and a powerful spicy flavor with notes of:
It’s currently priced at 23,200 dollars.
Domaine De La Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru 1937
Domaine De La Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru 1937 is a Pinot Noir from the French region of Burgundy.
Domaine de La Conti is revered as one of the best wineries in Burgundy, dating to the Prince of Conti in the 1700s.
The grapes used in this wine come from a tiny vineyard plot that is one of six grand crus on the Domaine de la Conti.
This wine has a flamboyant, fruity flavor, a medium body, acidity, and tannin. It currently prices an average of $64,000 dollars.
Domaine De La Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti Grand Cru 1945
Of all the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti bottles, the 1945 Grand Cru bottle is the rarest bottle and most expensive.
1945 was one of the best years on record for these Burgundy wines. Since only a few hundred bottles were produced, there are only a few that come up for auction.
The 1945 bottle has the same general characteristics as the 1937, a fruity Pinot that comes from a precious few hectares of grape vines picked individually and intentionally.
Very few bottles have come up for auction, and, thus, few people have even tasted the 1945 bottle, only serving to heighten its legend amongst wine buyers.
The bottle has been auctioned for nearly $600,000 dollars.
Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru
Domaine Leroy is part of the centuries-old Burgundy winery Maison Leroy.
Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru is from a newer school of burgundy cultivation, founded in 1988.
Winemaker Lalou Bize-Leroy uses a biodynamic method of grape cultivation that revolutionized the art and taste of Burgundy making.
It received a rating of 98, one of the highest in the wine industry, even within the top 1% of global and regional wines.
Wine critics characterize it as being full-bodied with red cherry and violet flavors, and a strong finish.
You can find the Domaine Leroy Muisgny Grand Cru for an average price of $39,600 dollars.
Jeroboam of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1945
The importance of Jeroboam of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild isn’t only due to the excellence of the wine year but as a symbol of victory.
This Pauillac Bordeaux from the Rothschild’s Mouton vineyard has the letter “V” inscribed on the label in celebration of the defeat of the Axis powers and the end of World War II.
The Rothschild family may be one of the wealthiest wine families in the world, but they are Jewish, so this wine was especially poignant.
The family was in hiding during the war and could finally reclaim their world-famous vineyards.
The most recent auction price for which it sold was $310,000 dollars.
Penfolds Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Another Ampoule vessel limited edition Cabernet Sauvignon, Penfolds Block 42 2004 wine comes from a small 10-acre vineyard in Australia’s wine region, known as Barossa Valley.
The vines themselves have been continuously producing grapes for 130 years.
You get VIP service with the purchase of a 170,000-dollar case of 12 Ampoules of Penfolds Block 42.
The winemaker flies the case out to you, each ampoule a unique artistic masterpiece from three contributing artists.
The winemaker opens the ampoule with a special tool to reveal a corked bottle of wine with an individual retail price of around 500 dollars.
Shipwrecked 1907 Heidsieck
It may date back to 1907, but it was the prized loot from a sunken Russian ship that divers discovered recently in 1998.
The Russian ship sunk after being intercepted by a German U Boat during World War I. Miraculously, the case of Heidsieck champagne at the bottom of the Gulf of Finland remained perfectly untouched.
Only 2000 bottles exist, and the average selling price for each one is an average of 275,000 dollars.