A bottle of wine doesn’t cost a fortune; that’s why it’s a staple drink in many homes. But some bottles are shockingly lavish with interesting backstories, earning them the title of the most expensive wines in the world.
If you are a wine collector who likes the thrill of the chase or aiming to taste some of the rarest flavors, then you should check out our list of the most expensive wine bottles (and your bank account, just in case).
Let’s begin the countdown from the fanciest bottles to the downright outrageous.
20. 1949 Domaine Leroy Richebourg Grand Cru
Average Price: $5,921
Tasting Notes: Iron, plum, chocolate
One of the most expensive wines from Domaine Leroy is the Richebourg Grand Cru. This vintage bottle boasts leather, spices, and cherry flavors.
Domaine Leroy is a wine producer based in the Côte de Nuits region of Burgundy. The estate is known for producing the best Pinot Noir wine from the best vineyards globally, such as Le Chambertin, Musigny, Clos de Vougeot, and Romanée-Saint-Vivant.
The wine has a well-rounded and ripe taste that only gets better with every sip. Moreover, its post-war appeal and historical value make it a great collection piece.
19. 1990 Domaine Leroy Chambertin Grand Cru
Average Price: $7,447
Tasting Notes: Leather, red cherry, black fruit
In the year 1990, several bottles of wine have established their name in the food and beverage industry, and one of these is the Chambertin Grand Cru.
This bottle of red is known for its exceptional tasting notes of red and blackberries, spices, raspberries, minerals, leather, and smoke. The strong and well-rounded flavors have a smooth finish that is best paired with beef, veal, and poultry dishes.
18. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet Grand Cru
Average Price: $7,924
Tasting Notes: Honey, peach, citrus
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) is known for crafting the finest Burgundy. But the La Montrachet, the vineyard above Chassagne Montrachet, is considered the world’s best for Chardonnay.
It is positioned in the hill where the vines are exposed to sunshine, making the ripening process faster. The vines also grow deep into the limestone, making them healthy and more flavorful.
As for the wine, it has tasting notes of honey, peach, citrus, pineapple, and pears. The fruity and floral hints in the palate create smooth, fresh, and creamy flavors with a subtle acidity. The aromatics boast a stunning note of apricot, green apple, lemon peel, mango, and other tropical fruits.
17. J.S. Madeira Terrantez 1805
J.S. Madeira Terrantez - Image by https://www.oldliquors.com/
Average Price: $8,285
Tasting Notes: Light lemon zest
Looking at the bottle of J.S Madeira Terrantez, you may think the wine inside it isn’t as good as it’s supposed to be, but that’s not the case.
According to Old Liquors, these wine bottles were discovered by the OP brothers (Oleg and Pedro) in Sao Vicente, wherein they have initially been sealed with wax and corks. But because of being stuck for decades, the bottles were in terrible condition, with sand and dirt covering them. So the liquid was placed first in a demijohn, while the bottles underwent a total makeover.
As to who the wine belongs to or who made them is still uncertain. However, researchers believe that they may be a property of Dr. João Vicente da Silva from Estreito de Câmara de Lobos, born around 1803.
Madeira Terrantez is believed to be a product of Terrantez grapes known for its full-bodied flavor and bouquet of aroma. While the grape variety is almost extinct nowadays, some bottles can still be traced using the said ingredient.
This most expensive wine has light and refreshing tastes, almost like fresh lemon zest. It has a soothing sweetness and smooth elegance in every sip. Such light flavor matches well with strong cheese, meat dishes, and pastries.
16. Domaine Leflaive Montrachet Grand Cru
Average Price: $10,030
Tasting Notes: Citrus, butter, oak
How do you get the goodness of oranges and lemons in the form of wine? Well, the answer to that is through a bottle of Domaine Leflaive Montrachet Grand Cru.
The taste profile of this most expensive wine is full of citrus, butter, minerals, and fruit tree that soothe your palate in every layer. The flavors are well-rounded with a subtle intensity and density that match dishes such as pasta, seafood, and cheese.
This vintage creation is allowed to mature for 12 months in new oak, then transferred to used oaks for 6 months, just in time for bottling. The grapes used are also manually harvested, which are correctly sorted to monitor their ripeness.
15. Domaine Georges & Christophe Roumier Musigny Grand Cru 1990
Domaine Georges & Christophe Roumier Musigny Grand Cru 1990 - Image by https://winehog.org/
Average Price: $11,720
Tasting Notes: Ripe black fruit
This elegant and classic vintage wine has concentrated dark berries and earthy and mineral aromas. It has soft tannins and has a well-balanced flavor of sweet, sour, and bitter notes.
Domain Georges & Christophe Roumier make their wine as natural as possible that even the vines are hand-tended. Each bottle undergoes controlled fermentation and is stored in barrels for 16 to 18 months.
The long time frame and slow aging allow the mixture to be bottled, even without filtration. This process results in intense and full-bodied wines that stand the test of time.
14. Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1999
Average Price: $13,615
Tasting Notes: Apricot, peach, melon
This most expensive wine is produced from sweet, shriveled Botrytised grapes. They are known to be very concentrated, super sweet, and rare.
This bottle from 1999 is a perfect mixture of sweetness balanced with hints of sourness and bitterness. It also boasts exotic fruit, honey, marzipan, and spice that lasts long on the palate.
13. Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru 2012
Average Price: $14,450
Tasting Notes: Red cherry, raspberry
This most expensive wine created last 2012 is best described as “magical and sumptuous.” Built in 1998, Domaine Leroy has established its name as one of the best in producing Burgundy.
The cultivation follows a strict protocol that combines old-vine preservation and ultra-low yields, which produces rich fruits. The result of such practice is bottles of wine with complex and deep flavors.
The Musigny Grand Cru, in particular, features tasting notes of tropical fruits, strawberries, and cherries with hints of leather and smoke. Such intricate flavors are well-balanced with meat dishes that are either braised, roasted, or grilled.
12. Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru 1990
Average Price: $21,200
Tasting Notes: Raspberry and black cherry
Domaine de la Romanee’s Conti Grand Cru 1990 is a vintage bottle that boasts complex concentration yet airy and lightweight flavors.
It has aromatic hints of fruits such as blackberries, candied raspberry, mint, lavender, and dark spices. You can clearly identify the intense tasting notes of raspberry and black cherry alongside some acidity and minerals.
11. Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1951
Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1951 - Image by https://www.abc.net.au/
Average Price: $38,000
Tasting Notes: Smoke, herbs, red and black fruits
Penfolds Grange is a well-known brand of Australian wine that is a mixture of Shiraz (Syrah) grape and a small quantity of Cabernet Sauvignon.
The first-ever wine bottle produced, the Hermitage 1951, was a product of experimentation by the brand’s winemaker, Max Schubert. He toured Europe in the 1950s and came back to Australia to implement the winemaking techniques he observed in Bordeaux.
10. 1811 Chateau D’YQUEM
Chateau D’YQUEM - Image by https://tastingbook.com/
Average Price: $117,000
Tasting Notes: Liquefied creme brulee
While most wine tastes and aromas are easily explained or described, this most expensive wine is an exemption. Chateau D’YQUEM offers complex flavors that stay on your palate for a long time before finally dissipating.
Several sommeliers have tried to identify the layers of flavors in this bottle. Most noted that the wine starts with a bouquet aroma. Once opened, you can savor in the fruity essences such as apricot, mandarin, and oak, vanilla, among others.
Meanwhile, some commented that complex fragrances of dried fruits and spices such as cinnamon, saffron, and licorice are more notable. The wine is also known to be on the sweeter side, slightly balanced with some hints of bitterness and acidity.
9. 1945 Romanee Conti
Romanee Conti 1945 - Image by https://www.decanter.com/
Average Price: $123,900
Tasting Notes: Earth and spice
A legendary red Burgundy, the Romanee Conti produced in 1945 is one of the supreme and timeless wines ever made. But if it is just another red wine, why is it priced at such a high amount?
Well, all the wines from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, also known as DRC, have some sort of a mysterious fable surrounding them. For one, the 4.5-acre Romanée-Conti vineyard produces the best and highest quality of Burgundy. And a couple of years back, someone tried to poison the vines unless he was paid €1 million in ransom.
Another reason why this wine is a cut above the rest is that during its year of production, the climate is too hot that only around 600 bottles were produced, making them limited edition pieces. The next vintage was released in 1952, seven years later.
8. 1999 Henri Jayer, Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux
Average Price: $136,955
Tasting Notes: Leather, minerals, iron
This most expensive wine is relatively light and is often associated with the likes of Burgundy and Champagne. It has tasting notes of oak, a mix of earth, and minerals, creating a punch of flavors in every sip. But despite its strong characteristics, it’s not overwhelming and still has a smooth finish.
Vosne-Romanée is one of the most prominent appellations in Burgundy, wherein it is home to the world-renowned Grand Cru vineyards that produce some of the world’s expensive bottles. Because of the region’s location, the wines produced are often associated with having rich, sensual, and aristocratic traits.
7. Ampoule from Penfolds
Average Price: $168,000
Tasting Notes: Plum, black cherry, and blackberry
When you think of wine, you imagine a tall bottle. But what happens when a classic wine like Cabernet Sauvignon is housed in what seems like an ampoule?
The limited-edition wine from Penfolds is called the Ampoule and is one of the most innovative and rare container formats. In 2021, the company released its priced offering, a testament to South Australian heritage’s fine wine and craftsmanship.
This most expensive wine is divided into four parts: (1) the wine, (2) the airtight and sealed hand-blown glass ampoule that holds the wine; (3) a hand-blown glass bob where the ampoule is suspended; and (4) a timber cabinet that contains everything together.
Four craftsmen were commissioned to make such fine creation. Manufactured in just 12 pieces, each ampoule is priced at a hefty amount of $168,000.
6. 1787 Chateau Margaux
Chateau Margaux 1787 - Image by https://moneyinc.com/
Average Price: $225,000
Tasting Notes: Dark berries, truffle, tobacco
1787 Chateau Margaux is one of the high-end wines ever produced by Château Margaux, archaically La Mothe de Margaux. Aside from being priced at an exorbitant rate, what makes this bottle special?
Well, when it was discovered, it has the initials T.H. etched in the glass. The wine was believed to be owned by Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States and an avid oenophile.
5. 1869 Chateau Lafite
Chateau Lafite 1869 - Image by https://www.wsj.com/
Average Price: $230,000
Tasting Notes: Vibrant cherry flavor
Another vintage and classic bottle exploding with charisma and personality is the 1869 Chateau Lafite.
This most expensive wine was described as “a rare year that combines quality and quantity. It was the perfect climate for growth and harvest (which fell on September 15th). The wines of 1869 are the result of a dry season and are better than the 1867’s”.
Every sip of this wine offers a vibrant flavor with in-depth cherry notes and a bit of Roquefort in the aroma. It has a subtle dry finish that goes off smoothly in your palate. The 1869 Chateau Lafite is one of the finest wines, fermented in a minimum of 15 to 30 years.
4. 1907 Shipwrecked Heidsieck
Shipwrecked 1907 Heidsieck - Image by https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/
Average Price: $275,000
Tasting Notes: Graham cracker, burnt lemon oil, and flamed oranges
Every once in a while, there are amazing and exciting discoveries. And one of the rarest and best finds in the history of unearthing is the 1907 Shipwrecked Heidsieck. Two thousand of these most expensive wines were salvaged from a ship that has been torpedoed by German sub during World War I.
The cargo was initially intended to be delivered at the Imperial Court of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia until it was struck by the German submarine. The ship, alongside the wine bottles, stayed underwater for 80 years until it was brought back in 1998. Since then, the bottles have been sold at different auctions.
To those who were able to have the honor of trying out this wine, all they can say is how different it is from anything they ever had before. Each bottle is not two other things. They all have a complex and mature taste with a hint of French onion soup.
Some also noticed that it has a subtle oyster hint which may be the result of being stuck in the ocean for eight decades. The notable aroma hints are graham cracker, burnt lemon oil, and flamed oranges. One can also identify caramelized bananas, burnt citrus, and even kerosene added to the long finish.
Everything the wine bottles went through, from the explosion and sleeping in deep water, can be tasted in each sip.
3. 1947 Château Cheval Blanc
Average Price: $305,000
Tasting Notes: Fruitcake, chocolate, leather
Aside from a signature taste and aroma, wines are also known for their light and smooth flow. However, the 1947 Château Cheval Blanc has a rich texture that almost resembles motor oil.
Experience tasters and wine connoisseurs do not only consider this bottle the finest Cheval Blanc in the 20th century but also one of the best clarets. However, it is not your usual Bordeaux because it is high in alcohol and advanced acidity.
Mechanized temperature control was not yet a thing in the 1940s. While the hot temperature delivered grape with high sugar content, there was a problem controlling the fermentation. So, the only method to cool down the mixture was to add ice. Still, the wine did not ferment to complete dryness, leaving sugar residues that resulted in the portiness of the spirit.
The result of the unique fermentation is a wine with tasting notes of fruitcake, chocolate, leather, and Asian spices. The richness and sweetness of the fruits are also very apparent alongside the heavy volume of alcohol.
2. 1945 Jeroboam of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild
Average Price: $310,000
Tasting Notes: Cinnamon, eucalyptus, ginger
Jeroboam of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild is considered one of the greatest vintages ever known to man. Bottled at the end of World War II, this most expensive wine symbolized “peace” after the dark times.
The wine boasts different unique styles that Michael Broadbent, author of Vintage Wines, said that “there is simply no other wine like it.”
Labeled as one of the “immortal” wines of the century, the bottle is easily identifiable among others because of the exotic, over-ripe, sweet nose of black fruits, coffee, tobacco, mocha, and Asian spices. It has a clean finish but has a well-balanced richness and intensity.
1. 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet
Average Price: $500,000
Tasting Notes: Jammy blackcurrants and subtle toasty oak
Screaming Eagle Cabernet is the most expensive wine recorded in history that has been sold at the Napa Valley Wine Auction for the whopping price of $500,000! Since the proceeds went to charity, the bottle is often removed from the list, but no one can deny how luxurious the price tag was.
The brand was purchased by the original owner and founder, Jean Phillips, in 1986. Since then, she began acquiring land, and the fruits were mainly sold to local Napa valley wineries. But in 1992, Phillips finally debuted the vintage Cabernet to the public.
Most people don’t know that the part of the harvest was aged in a special barrel with an engraved top. It has been used continuously for the succeeding vintage Screaming Eagle wines as a sign of good luck.
Upon nosing, notes of cassis, jammy berries, chocolate, blue fruit, and plums will welcome you. The opulent wine delivers tasting hints of plush, ripe, and round fruit that provides layers of texture and elegance in every sip.
Do you still have those dollars in your account? Maybe not for too long! Kidding aside, the existing history of these rare and most expensive wines are worthy of their hefty price. Plus, no amount can ever compare to the joy and pride of having one of these bottles displayed in your wine collection.
If you have the chance to buy any of these luxurious bottles, which one do you prefer the most? Share your thoughts in the comment section.