Wine is a luxury food and at the same time a status symbol – for some at least. In the U.S. and Europe, there is a whole scene of wine-crazed millionaires willing to pay vast sums for a rare bottle. However, the prices paid are less about quality. The prestige of the winery and the rarity of a bottle drive prices to dizzying heights. The older the wine and the more prestigious the winery, the more expensive – that’s the rule of thumb.
Bottle prices are subject to considerable fluctuations in this regard. From small cars to luxurious single-family homes, there is something for every wallet.
10th place: 1999 Egon Müller Scharzhofberger TBA (white) € 6,433
Let’s start the list with a Riesling from Germany. More precisely, a Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) from the Moselle (Saar). At an auction held by the VDP in 2011, 6,433 euros were bid for the bottle. Record for German white wine!
9th place: 1978 Montrachet Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (white) $ 23,929
Even among wine drinkers who only have an occasional glass, the Romanée-Conti name is no stranger to high-priced wines. From the Grand Cru site Montrachet (Côte d’Or, Burgundy) come probably the best white wines in France. For many, they are even the best in the world. Cultivated exclusively Chardonnay. Although it may be considered by many to be the best Chardonnay, it cannot grab the top spot among the most expensive white wines.
8th place: 1990 Romanée-Conti DRC (red) $ 28,112
Many people know Romanée-Conti only as a winery (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti). The name derives from the site “Romanée-Conti”. The Grand Cru site is located on the Côte d’Or in the Burgundy wine region and borders directly on the famous Richebourg site to the north. Romanée-Conti is produced exclusively from Pinot Noir (Pinot Noir).
7th place: 1775 Massandra Collection Wine (Sherry) $ 43,000
The oldest wine in our list. The grapes for this wine ripened in the same year that Louis XVI was crowned King of France in Rheims and George Washington rose from simple plantation owner to Commander-in-Chief of the American Army. A wine whose taste may tell the story of the world. Due to its high alcohol content and aging sherry is particularly storable.
Rank 6: 1787 Château d’Yquem (white) $ 56,588
Famous for its fortified wines, Château d’Yquem is located in the commune of Sauternes. With less than 800 inhabitants, the village is the namesake and birthplace of the famous, noble sweet white wines – the Sauternes. The wines of Château d’Yquem are considered the best dessert wines on earth. The special thing here already begins with the grape harvest. The reading process takes place several times. The grapes are not harvested in their entirety, but only the individual berries that have just the right degree of ripeness. Due to the special climatic situation, the infestation of the berries by the noble rot Botrytis cinerea is promoted. This fungus perforates the berry skin, makes the berry lose your water and thus concentrates the sugar and extract. However, due to the loss of water, only small quantities of wine can be produced from the available grapes. The long shelf life of these wines is mainly due to their high sugar and alcohol content.
Place 5: 1811 Château d’Yquem (white) € 85,000
The most expensive white wine in the world. Auctioned in 2011 to the private collector and connoisseur Christian Vanneque. The bottle can be visited. It is located in the owner’s restaurant, SIP Sunset Grill in Bali (Indonesia). Before the noble drop was auctioned, it had to undergo extensive tests to confirm its authenticity. Thus, the label of the bottle was compared with original labels from the 19th century, which the Château d’Yquem still owns itself. The shape of the bottle, the color of the glass and the curvature of the bottom were also compared with originals from the same century. However, this wine owes its exorbitant price tag not only to its age. Robert Parker and The Wine Spectator awarded the wine 100 points – more is not possible.
Rank 4: 1945 Château Mouton-Rothschild (red) $ 114,614
Even as a child, my stepfather raved about a Mouton-Rothschild. The name itself already exudes a certain magic. Since 1973, the Château has held the classification of Cru Classé winery, the highest level within the Bordeaux classification. The year 1945 is a historical special case for the winery, because despite a below-average vintage, a particularly concentrated and complex wine succeeded. The ’45 Mouton-Rothschild bears, as a souvenir of the victory over Nazi Germany, the V-label with the inscription “Année de la victoire”. In 1997, a bottle of the winning wine was auctioned for 114,614 at Christie’s in London.
3rd place: 1787 Château Lafite-Rothschild (red) € 155,000
Like Château Mouton-Rothschild, Lafite-Rothschild is owned by the French branch of the German-Jewish Rothschild banking family. Château Lafite-Rothschild is also classified as Premier Cru Classé and is thus considered one of the best wineries within the Bordeaux classification.
2nd place: 2004 Penfolds Kalimna Block 42 Ampoule (red) € 160.000
Penfolds is one of the few wineries that know how to produce affordable wines of reasonable quality for consumers and high-priced premium wines for true wine geeks. The Australian winery from the Barossa Valey is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignons and Shiraz. In 2012, the Australian winery released a special edition of its famous “Kalima 42 Cabernet Sauvignon”. This limited edition does not come in a plain bottle, but in a vial specially made for this wine. The wine contained in it is great, but you can get it – without the elaborate ampoule – for about 400 euros.
1st place: 1869 Château Lafite-Rothschild (red) $ 232,692
In Asia, too, expensive ones are increasingly becoming a status symbol for the powerful and the rich. Even though the bottle was estimated at just $8,000 before the auction, the history-making bottle was worth over $230,000 to an Asian bidder. Nothing is known about the buyer, except for his Asian origin.
This list does not claim to be up-to-date or correct. The data for this list comes from our research and refers to single bottles. If several bottles of a wine were auctioned, the displayed price corresponds to a single bottle.