There are few things better than wine in terms of getting better with age. Even non-connoisseurs will agree that properly aged wines look and taste finer than their young counterparts. For this reason, wine tends to become pricier the longer it stays in the cellar. Indeed, skyrocket the prices can go, as proven by the tags on the 10 most expensive bottles of wine in the world.
The price of wine can be a complex topic that covers everything from history to economics to agriculture. Discussing it may entail an entirely separate article. Suffice it to say that in many cases, public perception has a huge impact on the price tag. For example, wine from reputable makers will see more buyers willing to pay higher prices. This is worth mentioning seeing how most of the wines below made it to the list after being put up for auction, a setting where value is for the buyer to decide.
Château Margaux is one of the infamous Bordeaux region’s premier wine estates, so it is no surprise that their wines do not come cheap. The 2009 Balthazar has an especially notable price tag, as three 12-liter bottles are being sold at $195,000. Not only is the Balthazar among the finest made by Château Margaux, it is also what conventional sellers would call a “limited edition.” Only six of its kind were ever created and only three are being sold exclusively by Le Clos in Dubai International Airport. If you decide to become this wine’s owner, you’ll get your bottle in a luxurious oaken case with steel and gold decorations.
2. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1990
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, often abbreviated as DRC, is a wine estate in Burgundy, France, and is the creator of some of the world’s best and most expensive red and white wines. For a time, the priciest wine in the world was the 1988 vintage Romanée-Conti. There are a number of reasons behind the cost of DRC wines. First, its production is strictly limited in an effort to capture the flavor of the grapes. Second, while most wine makers take their harvest from large grape plantations, DRC’s berries are grown in a small vineyard where the vines are over 50 years old. The 1990 Romanée-Conti sells at $20,975 on average, but eight bottles sold for $224,900 at Sotheby’s 1996.
3. Château Lafite 1865
The word “Lafite” means “small hill,” but there is nothing small about the price of this wine. Like most of the wine makers in this list, they sell some of the most expensive bottles of wine in the world today. The 1865 Château Lafite is authenticated to be 150 years old, adding to its price. A standard bottle (750 ml) fetches around $24,577 sans taxes. In 2006, a double magnum was auctioned in Sotheby’s for a record-breaking $111,625, although today’s prices can reach up to $124,469.
The Rothschild clan operates a number of wine estates, but the branch of the family that owns Château Mouton Rothschild is part of the Primum Familiae Vini (PFV), a group composed of 12 of the best wine-producing families in the world. This fact alone should give you an idea of how expensive their wines can be. A standard bottle costs $16,992 on average but in the latter parts of the 1990s, a jeroboam was sold in Christie’s in London to an anonymous bidder for $114,614. In 2007, another Jeroboam was sold for an even more incredible price—$310,000 to be precise—in an auction at Sotheby’s in New York.
5. Cheval Blanc 1947
Château Cheval Blanc is one of Bordeaux region’s creators of the finest wines in the world. As proof, their wine is only one of the very few to receive the Premier Grand Cru Classé (A) rank in the Classification of Saint-Émilion wine in 2012. Their wines are truly in the top tier, both in terms of quality and price. A double magnum of 1947 Cheval Blanc sold for $135,125 in San Francisco’s Vinfolio in 2006.
6. Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1951
Australia is known for many things, including their many vineyards producing world-class wines. Penfolds Grange is considered the continent’s most collectible wine. Just like some of the entries in this list, the 1951 Penfolds Grange Hermitage has limited stocks, with only 20 bottles in existence today. This rarity is among the factors that gave this wine its amazing price, which in 2004, reached AUS$50,200 paid for by a collector in Adelaide.
7. Château Lafite 1787
Yet another wine by Château Lafite, this particular bottle earned its price partly through its connection to a famous historical figure: Thomas Jefferson. While there may have been issues regarding the historical connection’s veracity, they did not hinder the bottle of wine from being sold for $160,000 in 1985. Considering the difference in dollar value between then and now, this purchase is considered one of the most extravagant in history.
Inglenook is wine estate that hails from California’s Napa Valley. Francis Ford Coppola himself swears by this particular wine, describing it as a “well-preserved, robust wine that had just finished fermentation at the time of Pearl Harbor.” It was sold for $24,675 in 2004.
9. Château Margaux 1787
This very expensive wine goes down in history for reasons besides its $500,000 price tag. Authenticated to have been part of Thomas Jefferson’s collection, it was accidentally knocked over by a waiter and broken.
This estate in Napa Valley creates so-called cult wines, owing to the limited quantities and the sheer cost of their products. Their 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon was described as “spectacular,” and like the entry above it, fetched $500,000, this time in an auction in 2000.
High-quality wines are true luxuries and their prices indicate that much. As one of the things that can readily claim to getting finer over the years (although mind that you don’t overdo its aging process), it can make for a solid investment that will give its owners value and much pride.