Written by: Tim Edison

Updated: July 13, 2023

10 Most Expensive Wines in the World Ever!

most expensive wines

Have you ever wondered what makes some wines more expensive than others? Why are some wines purchased for hundreds - or even millions - of dollars? And what are the most expensive wines in the world?

People love wine for all sorts of reasons. For most, it’s the flavor of the wine that they enjoy or how well it pairs with food. But for collectors, there’s a deeper value. Perhaps it’s the historical significance, the history of the wine, or maybe they just love the hunt for the rarest wines in the world. 

In this list, we’ll take a deep dive into what makes wine so valuable, which varietals are more valuable than others, and the top 10 most expensive wines in the world. 

How Do Wines Become Valuable?

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the most expensive wines in the world, it’s first helpful to understand what exactly makes some wines so valuable in the first place.

So what are the factors that affect how wines can become so expensive?

  • Wine-growing region: Notable regions such as Bordeaux and Burgundy will command higher prices due to their reputation for making excellent wines. These wines are more expensive on average and increase in price dramatically over time.
  • Vintage: If the year the wine is made is declared an “exceptional vintage”, that can increase the value of the wine and make it a more exclusive bottle. This is especially true if the style of wine is not usually vintaged, such as Champagne.
  • Winemaking process: Deciding how many new oak barrels to use, whether to harvest by hand or machine and how long to age the wine are all decisions that can increase the cost and value of wine.
  • Exclusivity: Small producers in premiere growing regions may produce as few as a couple of hundred cases per year. If they have a reputation for producing excellent wines, they will command higher prices year after year.
  • Time: Wines that come from esteemed producers, regions, or those that have historical significance will continue to increase in value as time progresses and the wines become rarer.
  • Ratings: Wine critics such as Robert Parker can heavily influence how the community perceives a wine. If a wine receives a high score from an acclaimed wine critic or magazine, it will quickly increase in value. 
Row of wine bottles

What Are the Most Valuable Wine Varietals? 

While it’s hard to guarantee which wines will become especially valuable, some varietals can be expected to be more valued than others.

Popular varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are generally more sought-after, especially when they come from exceptional regions such as Napa or Burgundy.

In addition, blends such as Bordeaux or Champagne can be expected to cost more because of the region's reputation. 

Of all the white wines, Chardonnay is one of the most valuable if it comes from the right growing region, such as Burgundy.

In general, however, white wines are usually less valuable because they don’t age as well, and they’re not as popular as red wines. That said, wineries with a large following can see even their white wines sell for high prices. 

The 10 Most Expensive Wines Ever Sold

So how expensive are we talking here? Hold on, we're about to enter another secret world of wine!

Whenever I spend more than $20 on a bottle of wine I feel like I'm splurging but that really is just small potatoes compared to what your'e about to read! These are the most expensive bottles of wine ever sold!

10. Domaine Leroy Musigny, 1990 Grand Cru ($224,000)

Appreciated for its exceptional quality and rarity, this is one of the best examples of Burgundy in the world with only 292 bottles ever produced

With nuanced layers of flavor, subtle tannins, and a silky smooth texture, its critics' acclaim is enough to justify its large following and high price point. 

9. Chateau Margaux, 1787 ($225,000)

Cleverly dubbed the most expensive wine ever broken, this 1787 Bordeaux was supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson, who purchased it while serving as ambassador to France. 

Collector William Sokolin purchased the bottle for 500,000 before a waiter broke it in a Four Seasons during a Margaux dinner. Insurers paid out 225,000, making it the most expensive bottle of wine found outside of an auction or private sale. 

8. Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, 1869 ($230,000)

Another example of a wine prized for its rarity, this bottle was purchased by an anonymous phone bidder in 2010 in Hong Kong.

Made in the Pauillac region of Bordeaux, many collectors are convinced this is an exceptionally rare bottle of wine and have therefore bid accordingly to claim it. In the same year, two more identical bottles were auctioned off for the same price.

7. Heidsieck Champagne, 1907 ($275,000)

Also known as the Shipwreck Heidsieck, this Champagne was being transported to the Russian Imperial Court during World War I when the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine.

The ship remained underwater until divers explored the remains in 1997. Two thousand bottles were found intact and recovered. 

6. Cheval Blanc, 1947 ($305,000)

With a record-breaking hot summer in the Bordeaux region, many winemakers worked endlessly to cool their vineyards, fearing that the heat would destroy the crops. However, Cheval Blanc refused to do so, believing it would tarnish the quality of the grapes. 

In taking this risk, they produced what has been dubbed “one of the greatest Bordeaux wines ever created.” The warm summer caused the wine to end up with an almost Port-like syrupy texture and dark fruit flavor. 

5. Jeroboam of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, 1945 ($310,000)

Sold in 2006, this wine is prized for its historical significance and vintage. The label has a ‘V’ indicating the Allies' victory in World War II, which concluded that year.

In addition, this wine came from one of the wealthiest families in the Pauillac region of Bordeaux, France, and is widely recognized as being one of the best wines of that vintage. 

4. Screaming Eagle, 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon ($500,000)

Napa’s most well-known Cabernet producer, Screaming Eagle, is based in Oakville and produces a mere 600 cases yearly. Their wines are only available by waitlist, which spans over a decade—even a wine made in an average vintage from Screaming Eagle routinely auctions at over $5,000.

This wine, in particular, was sold in 2000 and is prized for its scarcity, unique winemaking practices, and an impressively high score of 99 by Robert Parker. It’s made with 60% new oak and is entirely unprocessed before packing, giving the wine a unique balance of rich berry and oak flavor with velvety tannins.

3. Domaine De La Romanée-Conti, 1945 Romanee-Conti Grand Cru ($558,000)

One of Burgundy’s premiere and oldest vineyards, this was the last vintage produced from those vines before they were torn out and replanted.

Only 600 cases were produced, making this one of the rarest Burgundies available. A second identical bottle was sold in this 2018 New York auction just minutes after the first for $496,000. 

2. Chateau Petrus, 2000 ‘Cuvee de la space’ ($1 million)

This Merlot, made in the Bordeaux region of France, was auctioned in a private sale for 1 million dollars following its one-year orbit around the world on the International Space Station. Following the wine’s return to Earth, it was poured in a blind tasting alongside an identical wine aged in a cellar. 

Wine critics that compared the two noted that the bottle in orbit tasted more floral, had a different color and aroma and tasted as if it had been aged for several years longer. 

1. Avenue Foch, 2017 Champagne ($2.5 million)

Perhaps the most significant indicator of how wine auctions of the future will go is this 2022 auction for the record-breaking bottle of magnum Champagne.

The bottle was auctioned with an NFT that gives the purchaser the digital and intellectual property rights to the infamous Bored Ape Mutant NFT and other collectible artwork on the physical bottle. 

As for the wine itself, it is a limited edition 1 of-1 Champagne made of 100% Premiere Cru grapes, 60% Pinot Noir, 20% Meunier, and 20% Chardonnay. 

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About the Author Tim Edison

Tim started Wine Turtle way back in 2015.
These days he contributes to Wine Turtle (and other renowned wine publications) while continuing his wine education.
Tim's wine of the month is the Coates & Seely Reserve Brut NV (from Hampshire, England).

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