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DRC Smashes Through Another Price Ceiling

Just when you thought the Burgundy legend couldn't get any more expensive, it does.

Records are made to be broken, but this one is really impressive – Burgundy's top performer has set a new level as the world's most expensive wine, cracking the $20,000 barrier.

It shouldn't come as a shock, given the astonishing persistence of DRC's Romanée-Conti Grand Cru wine at auction in recent years, but somehow it does. $20,110 is now Wine-Searcher's official average price for it; to put that into perspective, if you threw in another hundred bucks, you could buy six bottles of Screaming Eagle. Or you could buy a six-pack of Petrus and get almost a grand back in change.

However, it is important to note one thing: this is our officialaverage price, which means it is the average across a month – in this case the month of February – and the average used for compiling the list of most expensive wines. Taking this figure eliminates outliers occasionally thrown up by the churn of offers for each wine. If you go to the actual search result page for DRC's Romanée-Conti cuvée, you'll see a different figure – that is the daily average price and if we were to go by that, we would have constantly changing average prices, and our lists of superlatives (most expensive, most searched-for, best value, cheapest) would be impossible to compile. And our writers would be changing their stories every 24 hours (which, come to think of it, they often do anyway).

The way we compile the list is important and has major effect on our rankings, so it's essential that we explain the process in as simple terms as possible – otherwise people can get the wrong end of the stick and we end up with complete misconceptions being reported as fact in otherwise respectable news outlets. The rankings cover wines that are actually available to buy – there are minimum levels for the number of offers (i.e. merchants offering a specific wine for sale) worldwide and there must be a minimum number of vintages available too. This eliminates one-off cuvées and wines (and spirits) from defunct producers.

For example, we removed the wines of Henri Jayer from our superlative lists in 2016, because the number of vintages was dwindling – unsurprising given Jayer himself died in 2006 and his wines were no longer being produced. If we were still including Jayer wines, this story would have been written a month early, when the official average price of Jayer's Richebourg Grand Cru hit $20,676; it currently sits at around $21,700.

Since we stopped including Henri Jayer's wines in our Most Expensive lists, the Romanée-Conti has always been the wine with the highest average price on Wine-Searcher, except for a blip last October, when it was briefly eclipsed by Domaine Leroy's Musigny Grand Cru. At the time, the average price for the Leroy hit $19,945 while DRC was a comparative bargain at $19,459. However, the situation righted itself quickly, with Leroy's average price falling back to $17,000 the next month. It currently has an average price of $18,535.

DRC has traditionally been revered for its Romanée-Conti, which has an aggregate score of 97, one of the highest ratings among the wines we list and it has been steadily rising over the past year. In February 2018 it was at $17,464, meaning it has appreciated by 15 percent in 12 months. Meanwhile, the Leroy Musigny has fallen back slightly after a startling jump in price; it jumped a whopping 62 percent from $11,448 in the same period.

It's somehow fitting that the great domaines of Leroy and DRC should be slugging it out for top spot – they are two of the Burgundy greats, and Burgundy provides eight of the top 10 most expensive wines on our list.

It's also, perhaps, germane given Lalou Bize-Leroy's involvement – and dispute – with DRC. She might even get the last laugh – if the wines keep going as they are, we can expect the Musigny to outstrip the Romanée-Conti within the next three months.

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