11 Most Expensive Wines Ever Sold


Wine connoisseurs are often said to possess both a highly refined palette and a healthy bank account, as the absence of either one certainly makes it difficult to enjoy the finest wines and most renowned vintages with any kind of regularity. Due to the relative dearth of ideal grape-growing conditions and the delicate balance associated with the aging process, truly exceptional vintages are quite rare and therefore expensive — often extraordinarily so.

Among wine connoisseurs, certain vintages are held in the highest regard and fetch exorbitant sums of money whenever one is made available. For the most expensive wines ever sold, a vigneron and vintage of historic proportions is typically involved, and the value of the wine soars to remarkable heights if the bottle itself possesses some additional historic significance. Such is the case with many of the 11 wines that follow, most of which sold for far more than six figures when offered up at auction.


1951 Penfolds Grange Hermitage — $38,420

A true rarity, the 1951 vintage of Penfolds Grange Hermitage that sold for nearly $40,000 is thought to be just one of 20 bottles remaining. The $38,420 sum makes the 1951 Penfolds Grange Hermitage the most expensive Australian wine ever sold.


1775 Massandra Sherry de la Frontera — $43,500

This 1775 bottle of sherry from the Crimean region’s Massandra Winery is the winery’s oldest vintage and — at a price of $43,500 — remains the most expensive bottle of sherry every sold.


1787 Chateau d’Yquem — $100,000

Generally speaking, white wine does not often exceed the value of red wine. In the case of this 1787 Chateau d’Yquem, however, the bottle’s rarity and the exceptional vintage were more than enough to spur a collector to pay $100,000 for what was — at the time of the sale — the most expensive white wine ever sold.


1945 Chateau Mouton Rothschild — $114,614 

The fact that this particular bottle was a jeroboam and not a standard 750ml bottle likely contributed to the added cost of the 1945 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, but it is safe to say that this was not a purchase made purely for the sake of volume. Not only is the vintage known to be among the very best of the 20th century, the bottle also features a “V” celebrating the victory of the Allied Forces and the end of World War II.


1811 Chateau d’Yquem — $117,000

There is good reason for the multiple appearances made by vintages hailing from Chateau d’Yquem, and the 1811 white wine is believed to be just one of 10 bottles remaining. This bottle also took the crown of the most expensive white wine ever sold by eclipsing the 1787 vintage from Chateau d’Yquem by $117,000.


1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux — $156,450

The inspiration for a delightful nickname — “The Billionaire’s Vinegar” — and a bestselling book bearing the same nickname as its title, the initials etched on this 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux have caused a great deal of speculation concerning the bottle’s original owner, Thomas Jefferson. Malcolm Forbes apparently believed in the wine’s provenance and laid out the $156,450 necessary to secure the bottle at auction more than 30 years ago.


1787 Chateau Margaux — $225,000

This 1787 Chateau Margaux also had its origins in the wine collection of Thomas Jefferson, and it also inspired its fair share of controversy over its value and authenticity. Valued by its owner at $500,000, the 1787 Chateau Margaux was lost forever when a waiter at the Four Seasons Hotel broke the bottle and forced the owner to seek compensation — ultimately determined to be $225,000 — through insurance.


1869 Chateau Lafite — $230,000

The oldest vintage available at an auction held in 2010, the 1869 Chateau Lafite outperformed initial value estimates by more than $150,000. In fact, three standard-sized bottles of the 1869 vintage were bought for $230,000 each, making each individual bottle the most expensive standard-sized wine ever sold.


1907 Heidsieck — $275,000

Nearly a century after they were lost during transit due to a torpedo from a German submarine, 2,000 bottles of 1907 Heidsieck Champagne suddenly became available on the market. Due to the fact that the shipment of Champagne had been intended for delivery to the Imperial Court of Czar Nicholas II of Russia, bottles of the 1907 Heidsieck Champagne routinely sold at auction for prices up to $275,000.


1947 Cheval-Blanc — $304,375

This three-liter bottle of 1947 Cheval Blanc merlot owes its six-figure value to the fact that it is just one of two merlots belonging to the Classification of Saint-Emilion to earn “Class A” status. The April to October growing season in 1947 was recognized as simply extraordinary and the 1947 Cheval Blanc merlot that sold for over $300,000 is believed to be the only surviving Imperial-format bottle.


1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon — $500,000

It is indeed hard to fathom that a 1992 wine from Napa Valley would eclipse the price of a bottle belonging to Thomas Jefferson or one recovered from a shipwreck carrying Champagne for Czar Nicholas II, but this imperial of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon did just that during a charity auction, yielding a winning bid of $500,000.


 by Randi Glazer on November 1, 2016 in Randi GlazerWine


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