World’s Top 10 Most Expensive Wines

How much would you invest in a single bottle of wine? An exceptional vintage from a highly regarded vineyard may cost as much as a luxury sports car or property. We take a look at 10 of the most expensive wines ever produced.

1. Most expensive standard-sized bottle.

Chateau Lafite 1787 (Bordeaux)

Bought for the Forbes Collection, this bottle of Lafite bears Thomas Jefferson’s initials etched into the glass, a practice not that unusual in the 18th century when large purchases were made directly from the Chateau.

Provenance notes: this bottle has been subject to much speculation regarding its authenticity – indeed it the collection it came from sparked ongoing legal action in the US. A book entitled “The Billionaire’s Vinegar” by Benjamin Wallace details the story further.
  Top most expensive bottle in the world: Chateau Lafite 1787

2. Most expensive large-format bottle

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 (Bordeaux)

A Jeroboam (5 litres in the US) of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 – considered one of the great vintages of the 20th century – sold to an anonymous buyer at Christie’s London in 1997 for $114,614.

  Most expensive large bottle of wine: Mouton-Rothschild 1945

3. Most expensive fortified wine

Massandra Sherry 1775

A 1775 Sherry from the Massandra collection, sold at Sotheby’s London in 2001 for $43,500.

Situated 4 kilometers from Yalta in the Crimea, the Massandra winery was considered the finest in Czarist Russia. Its cellar contains over a million bottles of both Russian, some bearing the Imperial seal, and Western European wines, the oldest of which was this Sherry.

  Most expensive fortified wine: 1775 Sherry from-Massandra collection

4. Most expensive lot of wine ever sold at auction

Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1982 (Bordeaux)

50 cases (600 bottles), of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1982, by Christie’s/Zachy’s New York in 1997 for $420,000.

  Most expensive lot of wine: Mouton-Rothschild 1982

5. Most expensive white wine

Chateau d’Yquem 1787 (Bordeaux)

A bottle of 1787 Chateau d’Yquem sold at Christie’s London in 1986 for $56,588. This bottle also bears Thomas Jefferson’s initials.

Provenance notes: this has now been superceded by a bottle of Yquem from the same vintage purchased by an American buyer in 2006 for $90,000.
  Most expensive white wine: Chateau d'Yquem 1787

6. Most expensive dry white wine

Montrachet, DRC 1978 (Burgundy)

7 bottles of Le Montrachet, DRC 1978 sold at Sotheby’s New York in 2001 for $167,500 or $23,929 per bottle.

  Most expensive dry white wine: Le Montrachet 1978

7. Most expensive single bottle of red burgundy

Romanée-Conti, DRC 1990 (Burgundy)

6 Magnums of Romanée-Conti, DRC 1990 at Zachy’s New York in 2002 for $69,600, or $5,800 per regular bottle.

  Most expensive single bottle of red burgundy: Romanée Conti 1990

8. Most expensive lot of red burgundy

Romanée-Conti, DRC 1985 (Burgundy)

Set of 7 Methuselahs (6 litres or 8 bottles) of Romanée-Conti, DRC 1985 sold at Sotheby’s London in 1996 for $224,900.

  Most expensive lot of red burgundy: Romanée Conti 1985

9. Most expensive American red wine

Screaming Eagle 1994 (California)

3 bottles of Screaming Eagle 1994 sold at Christie’s Los Angeles in 2000 for $11,500 or $3,833 per bottle.

  Most expensive American red wine: Screaming Eagle 1994

10. Most expensive bottle of wine ever broken

Chateau Margaux 1787 (Bordeaux) insured for $225,000.

Provenance notes: the most expensive wine never to be sold is the 1787 Chateau Margaux initialled by Thomas Jefferson. In 1989 an astronomical price of $500,000 was placed on it by its owner, New York wine merchant William Sokolin who took it to a Margaux dinner at the Four Seasons hotel. Many say that in asking such a huge sum he was just looking to generate publicity (a similarly-initialled Lafite sold for “only” $160,000 four years earlier). Although he didn’t sell the wine, he certainly got a lot of publicity; at the end of the dinner a waiter carrying a coffee tray bumped the bottle, breaking it. Sokolin, however, had the last laugh: he’d managed to get the wine insured – for $225,000. This makes it the world’s most expensive broken bottle of wine.
  Most expensive bottle of wine ever broken: Chateau Margaux 1787


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