Top 10 Most Expensive Red Wines In The World: Vintage for Sale and Rarest Collections

It isn’t just an aspiration to a connoisseur’s taste that drives one to buy a bottle of expensive wine. With prices that can pay the mortgage for months, if not the entire loan, these vintage wines are a good investment, really.

CNBC reported that fine wines are, in fact, one of the best-performing luxury assets with values reaching up to 25 percent last year, according to The Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index. It topped art , jewelry, coins and other luxury assets by a mile in this graph.

A couple of years ago, we came up with the most expensive red wines list consisting mainly of collector’s items. Fine wines do age better in time and their prices can only go north. Expectedly, these rare editions are still the most expensive red wines in the world today.

However, for the average wine investor, the chances of getting hold of one of these wines are as high as snow in the Sahara. Either these wines are not for sale, one of a kind (one was knocked over and lost) or are hoarded by a super billionaire somewhere.

So, we thought to update the list and help those on the market for the most expensive red wines. Their best bet? Vintage reds that are exclusive but available in the market for 2018. So, we divided the list between the low five of most expensive but available vintage wines and the high five of truly the rarest and priciest ones.

Most Expensive Vintage Red Wines in the World

These vintage reds are expensive but available in the market. With enough sleuthing you can get a hold of one since their estates produced a limited number of bottles on the marked year.

10. Domaine Leroy Richebourg Grand Cru 1949
(Cote de Nuits, France) $5,921

The estate produces excellent Pinot Noir using the biodynamic production method spearheaded by its owner, Madame Leroy. Production is exclusive to the wealthy enough to afford the limited wines: only 700 bottles per year, tops, are made.

Richebourg is regarded for its full-bodied, muscular Pinot Noir and can be cellared for years. They make excellent collection, while, at its low-end price on our list, the wine can be consumed to impress even on casual days.

The year was the driest since 1893 in the region and harvest was influenced by erratic weather patterns. Flowering was under cold, wet conditions, greatly reducing yields. Adding to the allure to this vintage is its post-world war appeal, lending to it a historical essence and more perceived value.

9. Domaine Leroy Chambertin Grand Cru 1990
(Cote de Nuits, France) $7,447

The estate is a solid brand in the most expensive wine space. A little pricier than its 1949, the the 1990 is harvested from the exclusive Pinot Noir vineyards of Chambertin Grand Cru.

Domaine Leroy’s reds are regarded for its deep scent of red cherries, plums, earth and sweet spice. Adding more vintage air to this wine, Napoleon is known to drink Chambertin wine, favoring its rich ruby hue not unlike what you get from the 1990 vintage.

The estate also produces regular vintage for $4,288 with production around 900 bottles per year.

8. Domaine Georges & Christophe Roumier Musigny Grand Cru 1990
(Cote de Nuits, France) $11,720

A Pinot Noir from Le Musigny vineyard at the heart of Burgundy, the vintage traces its roots to a young lad who married a local Musigny girl in 1924. The man received as dowry sections of the Chambolle Musigny vineyards and from there, Domaine Georges & Christophe Roumier was born.

The story has nothing to do with the vintage’s flavor for sure, but it adds a nice romantic ring to this nectar of love, however you put it. What you’ll be interested more is the fact that only 380 bottles at most are produced yearly.

The year was very hot although flowering was less compared to 1989. The minimal yield, experts said, gave the grapes more concentration, flavor, thicker skins and plenty of tannin.

So when you see one of these bottles in a friend’s cellar, go for it and ask for goose, duck or game bird for dinner, which the wine goes well with.

7. Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru 2012
(Cote de Nuits, France) $14,436

The Musigny vintage is described as magical with layered minerality. Some describe it as a sumptuous cornucopia of flowers, gentle and delicate with silky tannins.

Although 2012 wasn’t the perfect harvest season in Burgundy with a few spring frosts, irregular flowering and late-spring hailstorms, the dry, hot summer tail-end provided created a robust flavor for this vintage. Going by the estate’s reputation, this wine is no doubt worth its every drop. Not the least it carries the Domaine aura of our next wine producer; the owner parting ways with DLC years ago when they became direct rivals.

6. Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru 1990
(Burgundy, France) $21,216

Widely regarded as one of the world’s best wine producers, the estate, referred to in the circle as DRC, earns the best spot on our list for expensive but available vintage reds. The year 1990 was a well-balanced year, dry but cool spring followed by hot summer and rains in September. It’s a condition that lent to harvest rich healthy grapes with good yields.

Moreover, the last fifteen years had been excellent for DRC, owning the best-performing wine from the region. The estate soared by 298 percent on the Burgundy 150 Index over the same period, cementing its claim to fame.

DRC reds are considered by the Clive Coates as the “purest, most aristocratic and most intense example of Pinot noir.” We can only assume the 1990 variety tops that.

Most Expensive Collector’s Red Wines

These wines are priced uniquely per bottle, meaning, the wines are one of a kind; hence, they are a collector’s dream.

5. Cheval Blanc 1947 St-Emilion
(Bordeaux,France) $135,125  

This vintage is one of the only two wines granted Class A status in the Classification of Saint-Emilion wine. The three-liter bottle was bought in 2006 at Vinfolio in San Francisco for the record-worthy price.

Only 110,000 bottles were produced and a few have survived to this day. The blend is 50:50 Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It is considered by sommeliers as the finest Cheval Blanc in the twentieth century, exuding rich, volatile acidity with lush texture and a sensual flavor.

The harvest year was marked by hot weather with temperatures soaring to 35 degrees Celsius, yielding generous crops with high natural sugar levels.

4. Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1951
$38,420

The most expensive Australian wine, Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1951 set the record when a wine collector in May 2004 bought it in an auction at MW Wines in Adelaide, South Australia. Only twenty bottles are known in existence.

The wine is predominantly Shiraz with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon and regarded as one of Australia’s finest wines.

3. Chateau Lafite 1787
$156,450  

The most expensive standard bottle of wine, this vintage is believed to be from Thomas Jefferson’s cellar. A ThJ initials are etched in the glass. The third president and one of the founding fathers was an ambassador to France and he’s said to spend much time visiting the Bordeaux and Burgundy vineyards for his wine collection.

Some experts are skeptical of the 1787 story though, but that didn’t bother the publisher tycoon Malcom Forbes, who bought it in 1985. The wine’s age is enough to land it in any most expensives wine list.

Jefferson is such a collector that he’s associated with other expensive vintages: a 1775 Sherry for $43,500; a 1787 Chateau d’Yquem for $56,588; and our next on this list.

2. Chateau Margaux 1787
$225,000

Said to be the most expensive wine unsold, it’s another collection from Jefferson. No money can buy this now; a waiter knocked it over during a Margaux dinner at the Four Season Hotel. Talk about spoiling centuries of waiting and speculating. The owner, New York wine merchant, William Sokolin valued it at $500,000, a price that had since been devalued to “just” $225,000, the amount paid by insurers for the spilled wine.

1. Screaming Eagle Cabernet 1992
$500,000

The most expensive red wine still belongs to this vintage, a surprisingly young wine, a six-liter bottle of Cabernet from Napa Valley. The wine arguably won by technicality when it fetched for charity the record-smashing price at the Napa Valley Wine Auction in 2000.

Still, this bottle is for keeps and now worth its price for topping many most expensive wine lists over the years and gaining the world’s attention in the process. The region, the most prestigious in the New World, is famous for “Napa Cab,” a rich, oak-aged aroma range laced with blackcurrant, liquorice, vanilla, boysenberry and smoky dark chocolate.

There you go, our 2018 list of the world’s most expensive red wines. Would you buy any of these wines? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Category: Financial News

17 Comments »

  • erwinzunig says:

    I sure would love to sip a glass of any of these collections. Just an offshoot of this topic, many don’t realize that Australian wines are remarkably clean and crisp, especially the Merlots and Cabernets. They’re better than CA wine and maybe so versus French and Italian if you’re not particular about labels.

    • AussieGent says:

      “if you’re not particular about labels” – Dear Sir – please refer above to the Australian wine at #4 Valued at $38k – geez how fussy do you want to be :-O

    • JimVines says:

      “They’re better than CA wine…”

      No, actually, they’re not. There are many good Aus wines and a few excellent ones (I don’t happen to care for Penfolds…not sure what the fuss is there). I would argue, and I bet I’m right, that there are more 95+ point California wines than Aus ones, but the fact of the matter is that each of Aus, California and France produce some of the world’s finest wines.

      A quick comment on the list: $20k for a bottle of DRC is by no means a record. That’s actually a pretty good price.

  • jhunbell says:

    I have a feeling that waiter who broke the Chateau Margaux 1787 bottle was fired and later applied in India as valet attendant, who, in fact, crashed a Lamborghini that made it to the news recently. Seriously, that must be a nightmare to spill away $$$ when you’re just earning cents.

    • Jeff says:

      Fired? He went missing.

      • Sabine says:

        LOL! I agree that something a little more drastic than just being fired probably happened. But what exactly…. Or maybe the guilt killed them!

  • TC says:

    The bottle was broken by the importer, William Sokolin, not a waiter.

  • Jody Aveline says:

    Terribly confused, agitated and a bit sick to my stomach. One has to be completely irrational, greedy, and selfish bugger too, to purchase a bottle of wine for $500,000 when so many children die each day from malnutrition. PS, If I was the waiter (or importer or whoever broke the dam expensive bottle) I would be on all fours licking the floor dry

    • Tony J. says:

      Jody, you probably don’t realize that most, if not all, of the wine auctions in Napa and the surrounding area involve significant charitable contributions and causes which benefit a number of worthy causes. While you castigate one who would pay $500,000 for the ’92 SE, it is more likely that the winner is a very generous soul.

      • dess says:

        Tony, please don’t break my heart. I already burst into tears upon the realization of the noble cause of buying a 500,000 dollar bottle of wine. If the winner’s intention was to enjoy the bottle of wine I can understand that. The guy had the money, and just wanted to enjoy himself. However, the case tends to be as always to hide the bottle in a damp, and dark cellar away from the world like a dragon hiding his treasure in a cave lying on top of it and making sure that no one will ever find it. What a waste of great wine. And Jody, no wine is worth the indignity of licking it from the floor. Just say damn it and look ahead. Cheers.

    • Nana wusu says:

      If you have billions of dollars… $500,000 wouldn’t be any money to you… This world is about who has it not who needs it. So work hard creating wealth and use it the way you want it and stop wasting your breath on how you want others to use their wealth

  • MK says:

    The Screaming Eagle purchase should not be on this list as the auction itself was for charitable purposes. While not inexpensive in its own right this exact year can be had for a fraction of the auction price.

  • Ricky says:

    If you ever think you’re having a bad day, just be glad you’re not the unfortunate person that spent $500,000 on a single bottle of Thomas Jefferson’s wine, only to have it broken by a member of the waitstaff. Also, be grateful you’re not the person that broke a half-million dollar wine authenticated as being owned by the third President of the USA. That was not a wine for drinking, that was a wine for displaying as a part of history (sort of). Buying a 1992 SE for $500k is one thing, but the 1787 Margaux was owned by Thomas Jefferson and was 330 years old! At that point, it’s a collector’s item, not a drinking wine… in my opinion, anyway, obviously, at least one very rich person disagrees with me.

    • Denbts says:

      “just be glad you’re not the unfortunate person that spent $500,000 on a single bottle of Thomas Jefferson’s wine, only to have it broken by a member of the waitstaff.”
      Yeah. I’d really hate to be the person that has the capacity to spend half million bucks on booze.

  • Victoria Smith says:

    I had the opportunity to try the Screaming Eagle 1994 and it was corked.

  • Mark C. says:

    I am investing in current 2012 – 2016 wines banking on the value increasing ahead of other available investments. Not to mention I deeply enjoy the CA vineyards and touring the Sonoma & Napa regions. I recently purchased 6 bottles of Robert Mondavi 2014 Cab The Reserve in Oakville. I attempt to buy an investment bottle for my 2 kids and 2 grandkids. I am sure the two little grandkids will enjoy drinking a 30 or 40 year old wine from there papas collection. There is a lot to learn about wine.

  • Albert L. says:

    For the aficionados:

    I only want to put my two cents in here because I had the opportunity to drink all these great French wines when I first arrived in California in 1964, while I worked for a French restaurant in Sausalito, and this is a true story. Chateau Margaux 1959 $22.00, Chateau Lafite Rothschild $65.00, Richebourg $45.00, Romanee-Conti $60.00, La Tache, Chambertin, Cheval Blanc, Chateau D’Yquem,etc, etc…
    And these were the most expensive on the wine list.
    Now here are my comments :
    Like everything else in the USA, it’s to sell magazines like the ” wine spectator “, news papers, advertisement, to sensationalize through the media and create public excitement, at the expense of accuracy.
    Great strategy, but total non sense, and I am a wine lover; there are plenty of excellent wines for less than 100 dollars today.

    A bon entendeur salut.

    A.L.

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