If you’re more concerned about making green than picking between white and red, it may be time to pop the cork on wine investing. With the top-selling bottle earning over half a million dollars at auction, you don’t need a fine taste for notes and finishes to appreciate these vintages.
So head down to the cellar and start taking inventory, because we’re taking a look at the 10 most expensive bottles of wine ever sold.
1. $558,000 — Romanée-Conti (1945)
It’s no surprise to see a Romanée-Conti wine leading the list for the most expensive bottles of wine ever sold. They consistently produce some of the most expensive wines around. Their 1937 Grand Cru red retails for $73,228. Their 1994 white, Montrachet Grand Cru commands a $10,911 price tag.
Where they really shine, like the rest of the wines on this list, is at auction. The 1995 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grand Cru sold for a world-record-setting $558,000 back in 2018.
A particularly rare wine, only two were available at auction, with only 600 bottles ever produced.
2. $500,000 — Screaming Eagle (1992)
Apparently, the most expensive way to hail a cab is at auction. This cabernet sauvignon was the previous world-record holder for the most expensive bottle of wine purchased. Back in 2000, the bottle sold at a charity event for $500,000. The record stood for 18 years.
Screaming Eagle cabernets, with small quantity production, tend to resell at high values. Yet, this particular bottle selling for a cool half-million took most wine enthusiasts by surprise.
3. $310,000 — Château Mouton-Rothschild (1945)
In the 19th Century, the Rothschild family had amassed the largest private fortune on earth. Today, the family remains one of the wealthiest with an estimated net worth exceeding $350 billion. Their vineyards, likewise, are known to produce wines for those with expensive tastes.
A bottle of 1945 Château Mouton-Rothschild is said to be one of the best vintages of the last century. Hopefully, whoever purchased the bottle for $310,000 at a 1997 auction agrees!
The bottle itself commemorates the Allied victory in WWII. This is evidenced by a “V” on the label.
4. $304,374 — Château Cheval Blanc (1947)
Coming in at a price just a few thousand dollars below the Mouton-Rothschild is the 1947 Château Cheval Blanc. Ranked as a Premier Grand Cru Classe (A), this wine is said to be the best Bordeaux ever vinted. Only two wines have ever received Class A status of Saint-Emilion wine.
The bottle sold at auction in 2010.
5. $275,000 — Heidsieck (1907)
The most expensive wines are dominated by prestigious winemakers, vintages, and ruled by small batch production. This 1907 Heidsieck earned its value through the bottle’s journey.
During the first World War, a ship carrying the wine was sunk by a German submarine. Fortunately, some of the bottles survived the torpedo, although they weren’t recovered for 81 years.
In 1997, over 2,000 bottles of the wine were salvaged from the bottom of the ocean. It may not be the best choice to drink, but the Heidsieck’s story pairs well with any meal.
6. $230,000 — Château Lafite-Rotschild (1869)
Unsurprisingly, another Rothschild bottle made its way on this list. The surprise, however, came when the bottle sold at a Hong Kong auction for $228,000 more than predicted. Even more shocking, the anonymous bidder bought all three bottles of Château Lafite-Rothschild 1869 at $230,000 apiece.
Even at well over the expected price, this wine investment could see great returns for the private bidder. The 1869 bottle is considered to be one of the rarest vintages.
7. $225,000 — Château Margaux (1787)
Bottled in 1787 and once owned by Thomas Jefferson, America’s third president, this Château Margaux seemed ready to have an incredible story. In the end, however, this wine was only ever tasted by a tablecloth.
Wine trader, William Sokolin, purchased the bottle for $225,000 and brought it to a dinner. A waiter accidentally knocked the table, causing the bottle to shatter. Insurance covered the wine, but certainly didn’t chip in for the tip.
8. $168,000 — Penfolds Block 42 (2004)
Founded in 1844, Penfolds is one of Australia’s oldest wineries. Despite this, it is the experience and reputation of the brand that brings it on to the top 10 most expensive wines list, not its age. The 2004 Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon commands a per bottle cost of $168,000.
Part of this experience is rooted in the bottles’ very design. Unlike the more traditional cork, the Block 42 is closed with a small piece of wood. An expert winemaker aids the buyer to ensure the bottle is opened properly.
9. $156,450 — Château Lafite (1787)
Number nine brings two second appearances to the list, Château Lafite and President Jefferson! The glass has the initials “ThJ” carved into the glass. It is believed that this stands for Thomas Jefferson and that it came right from his own cellar.
Malcolm Forbes, of the eponymous Forbes magazine, purchased this bottle in 1985.
10. $123,900 — $558,000 — Romanée-Conti (1945)
If this looks familiar, it’s because you’ve seen it before. The number 1 and number 10 spots go out to the same bottle, just 11 years apart. At a $435,000 increase between 2007 and 2018, you can see the high yield increase wine investments can accrue.
This particular vintage earns its high value due to the destruction of its vines in 1946. Phylloxera, a pest that was at the heart of the Great French Wine Blight of the 19th Century obliterated the vines required for this bottle. As a result, only 600 bottles were produced.