With the fine wine market expected to reach US$362.20 billion in 2023 and the value of fine wine as an investment soaring, according to the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index, it probably won't come as a surprise that there are some expensive bottles of wine out there.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the five most expensive bottles of wine ever sold.
Why do certain bottles get so expensive?
There are a number of reasons that a single bottle might pull down huge amounts of money. This could include their age, rarity, and history.
For example, the Chateau Lafite 1869 featured on this list is hugely old. Since wine is drunk over time, it’s incredibly rare to have bottles of this age still around. This makes them highly sought after, and, therefore, expensive.
The 1907 Heidsieck was recovered from a shipwreck and was originally destined for the personal collection of the ill-fated Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, giving it a history that collectors find attractive.
The most expensive bottle in our top five, the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1945, is the so-called “unicorn vintage” meaning that it’s extremely rare and desirable. There were only 600 bottles produced in total, so their rarity makes them highly sought after.
It also has the additional factor of being from one of the world’s most famous and highly regarded wineries and being a vintage that marked the end of WW2, exponentially increasing its historical value.
Top five most expensive wines
Here are the five wines, in reverse order, that topped our list of most expensive bottles on the market:
5. Château Lafite 1869
Chateau Lafite is one of the most renowned wineries in Bordeaux and is often associated with high-quality production.
With only three bottles available at the time of sale, the Chateau Lafite 1869 was the subject of a bidding war that drove the price up from an estimated $60,000 to a whopping $230,000 per bottle.
Sold at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong in 2010, a single buyer bought all three extant bottles for $690,000.
4. 1907 Heidsieck
Piper-Heidsieck is a well-known French champagne house known for its fantastic quality.
Bottles of champagne rarely make it onto the list of the most expensive wines because they are not traditionally a wine that you age, reducing the chances for a bottle to become extremely rare.
However, the 1907 Heidsieck is an exception. This particular vintage was recovered from a shipwreck that had been sunk in the sea off of Finland on its way to deliver these bottles to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia during WWI
The bottles were salvaged in 1998 and the most expensive was auctioned off at Christie’s auction house for $275,000 in 2003, with the value boosted by the history attached to the bottle.
3. 1947 Château Cheval Blanc
Château Cheval Blanc is one of the most renowned and sought after wineries in Bordeaux, France. The 1947 vintage of its wine is considered to be one of the greatest wines ever created and has been called “the holy grail” of the wine world.
This particular vintage was declared a Premier Grand Cru Classé A, an elite classification in French winemaking that only four wines possess. It was also the first Château Cheval Blanc vintage to be produced after World War II.
The excellence of this vintage has resulted in it being one of the most expensive bottles ever sold at auction. In 2018, a bottle from this vintage was sold for an astonishing $304,375 at Sotheby’s New York City auction house.
2. 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon
Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon is America’s most iconic and sought-after wine. This cult classic from Napa Valley is made in extremely limited quantities each year, making it one of the rarest wines on the planet.
While a standard bottle of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 will only set you back around $21,610, a six-liter charity bottle sold in 1995 went for $500,000. This is obviously a bit of an aberration, but it just goes to show what value rarity can add to a bottle.
1. 1945 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti was already an iconic winery before World War II, but the lifespan of their 1945 vintage has cemented its place in history.
This relatively low-yield harvest, only 600 bottles were created, was released long after the war had ended and quickly became a collector’s item.
A single bottle was sold for an astounding $558,000 at auction in 2018, smashing the world record for the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold. Astoundingly, another bottle sold at the same auction for $496,000.
So if we discount the 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon for its novelty size, the 1945 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti technically holds first and second place on this list.
Rare and highly collectable
The sheer price of these bottles demonstrates just how willing wine collectors are to pay enormous sums for rare bottles, and vintages, and how good and investment wine can be.