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DRC Breaks World Auction Record - Bottle of 1945 Burgundy sells for 558.000 USD to become world’s most expensive wine

On the Saturday, October 13 – the most expensive bottle of Burgundy was sold at the Sotheby’s auction in New York.

The legendary bottle of 1945 Romanee-Conti was sold for 558.000 USD. A legendary bottle with a unique provenance – and one more was sold at 496.000 USD making it the second most expensive wine ever sold. 

According to most sources 608 bottles were produced in 1945 – before the vines were uprooted. It was 17 times the auction house's estimate for the fine French wine.

The previous record for a standard wine bottle was held by an 1869 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, sold in Hong Kong in 2010 for £177,000.

But of all sizes, a £236,000 3-litre 1945 Mouton-Rothschild scooped the previous record at a 2007 auction in New York.

Saturday's lots came from the personal collection of Robert Drouhin.

While record-breaking in terms of wine, the 1945 Romanee-Conti was far from being the most expensive item sold on Saturday. A bottle of The Macallan 1926 scotch whisky sold for $843,200, the highest price Sotheby's has achieved for a single spirit.


The 1945 Domaine Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti is a legendary red Burgundy. Allen Meadows often points out that while only 608 bottles of this wine were produced, over 40,000 bottles have claimed to have been drunk! He also points out that “La Tache comes to you and seduces you, Romanee-Conti makes you come to it; it doesn’t care.”

John Kapon of Acker-Merrill-Condit wine auctioneers and retailers in New York, also tastes many older vintages of Burgundy, as part of his “job” of insuring older bottles of Burgundy to be auctioned are pristine. He has drank the 1945 DRC Romanee-Conti and claims it is the “best wine that I have ever had.”

In New York City recently, a Romanee-Conti tasting was held over four days, and Aubert de Villaine was in attendance. John Kapon reports that the older vintages of this wine showed extremely well. There were rumors being spread through the City after this event that the 1945 DRC Romanee-Conti was the Burghound’s first 100 point wine.


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The Story

 “As if, in this square of earth, the gods had bequeathed us a memory of the fascinating vestige of a timeless perfection.” — Richard Olney. The wine of Prince de Conti, she is velvet, seduction and mystery. It is the most Proustian of all great wines.


Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is without question the most famous estate in Burgundy and arguably the greatest, producing some of the best wines in the world. It is probably one of the most traditional wineries in France. Wines are produced in small quantities while the demand is huge. The domaine has 25 hectares of vineyards, all Grand Crus, including the jewel in the crown, the 1.8 hectare monopole of Romanée Conti.

Romanée-Conti, a vineyard of four and a half acres,was originally the property of the Abbey of St. Vivant. In 1760 Prince Conti acquired it against the competition of a famous collector of jewellery, Madame de Pompadour – the king’s minister against the king’s mistress. He withdrew it from the market and reserved it for his own dazzling social events. It was he who created the myth surrounding Romanée-Conti.

The price of this tiny, treasured vineyard was 80.000 livres, which in those days was worth a small kingdom. Reclaimed as property of the nation during the Revolution, the vineyard passed through the hands of several proprietors to an ancestor of the present owner for 14.000 gold pounds in 1868.

–We are the keeper of a certain philosophy of wine and, mainly, we are concerned by the perfection in details" assures Aubert de Villaine. 


Romanée-Conti lies on brown limestone soils 60 cm deep with a major clay component. Romanée-Saint-Vivant has similar but deeper (90 cm) soils. Higher up, La Romanée occupies a markedly sloping site (12%) and the soil texture is less clayey. La Tâche and La Grande Rue share brown limestone soils, rather shallow at the top end with deeper rendzinas lower down. The same is true for the Richebourg, depending on slope and aspect. The underlying rock is hard Premeaux limestone dating from the Jurassic (175 million years BC).

Lying between Flagey-Échezeaux (home of the ÉCHEZEAUX appellation) and Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne-Romanée occupies a middle position in the Côte de Nuits. The vines grow at altitudes of 250 to 310 metres and face east or, in some cases, slightly south of east. Vosne-Romanée, the central jewel in the necklace of appellations which is the burgundian côte, is not content with holding a mere four aces but boasts a total of six Grands Crus, each one famous the world over. A thousand years ago, it was the Cluniac monks of Saint-Vivant de Vergy and the Cistercians of Cîteaux who first realised the value of these very special plots of land. 
One of these vineyards takes its name from Prince Conti who lost his heart to it in 1760. Romanée-Conti is one of the wonders ofthe world and has always been a singly-held entity. Next door to it, Romanée-Saint-Vivant recalls the medieval monastery of the Hautes-Côtes which is currently undergoing restoration and which is linked to it by its own path. La Romanée, La Tâche and La Grande Rue are also singly-held entities, as is Richebourg, whose mere name is enough to fill a glass.


These Grands Crus frequently give good results from long laying-down. As a general rule, they shouldn't be drunk under about ten years of age but sometimes they will be aged up to 20 or 30 years. Each appellation has its own distinct personality depending on its year of production and on the stage it has reached in its development. These flamboyant red wines fully express the subtlety and complexity of the Burgundian Pinot Noir grape. Their colour is a dark ruby turning crimson with age. Their wide-ranging bouquet is divided among small red and black fruits, violet, spices and, with time, underbrush. On the palate, this wine is well-defined with a powerful body. It is delicate, sensual, frank and full.


In addition to their powerful structure and exceptional longevity, these great wines develop tertiary aromas of truffle, underbrush, leather and fur. It goes without saying that strong-flavoured meats will do them justice : furred or feathered game, braised, in sauce, or simply grilled. Wild-fowl (eg Peking duck) or a nice cut of roast veal will be gently enveloped by the close-packed but elegant tannins of these mighty Pinot Noir wines.

Serving temperatures : 15 to 16 °C.

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Wine Information

1945 Romanée-Conti (Côte de Nuits) /This was the last of Romanée-Conti´s vintage of ungrafted wines. The original roots of the Romanée-Conti vineyard go as far back as 1585, and since carbon disulfide was unavailable during the war years the vines declined. It was under Henri Leroy´s impulsion that the vines of Romanée-Conti were torn up in 1945 and then replanted in 1947.

According to its archives, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti produced just 608 bottles of Romanee-Conti in 1945. There is no mention of large format bottles in the Domaine’s records however jeroboams and magnums are in existence often held by collectors.

These large bottles would have been“ordered” after the war by the “Compagnons de la Liberation” in honour of General de Gaulle and other generals. As Domaine de la Romanee-Conti is unable to authenticate this bottle as it does not feature in its register, it has been valued only as of interest for “collectors” hence its relatively low estimate. Previously sold on 2nd February 2003 for 5600 Euros under the hammer of Me Pillon in Calais, Assessor M Segon.


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Average Bottle Price

2020 2018 2014 2012 2011 2010 2005 2000 1995
99 700€ -8.5% 109 000€ +15.4% 94 484€ +90.3% 49 655€ +72.6% 28 766€ +33.2% 21 600€ +156.2% 8 432€ +122.6% 3 788€ +61.6% 2 344€

This data comes from the FINE Auction Index, a composite of average prices for wines sold at commercial auctions in 20 countries. The average prices from each year have been collected since 1990. This chart plots the index value of the average price of the wines.

Tasting note


Deep, Brick red and Dark


Endless, Spicy and Extensive


Truffles, Blackcurrant, Earthy, Blueberry, Mint and Pepper


Intense, Fresh, Seductive and Refined




Average in Acidity, Warming, Medium tannin, Concentrated, Well-structured, Complex, Full-bodied, Full, Round, Harmonious, Medium-Dry and Silky tannins


Excellent and Exotic

Written Notes

The third wine was the wine of wines, the king of kings and the lord of lords, the 1945 DRC Romanee Conti. It is nice when two of your best friends have virtually all the bottles of this wine left in existence! Only 608 bottles were made; I have had it now five times (one still to be written up but you will read that one next week), and yes, they were all real. Man, what a wine. I have said so much about this wine before, that I don’t feel bad about my lack of a detailed note here. ‘YOWSERS’ was one of my detailed observations lol. ‘Super intense’ was another. Notwithstanding this wine’s usual perfection and status as the greatest wine I have ever had, as bottle and circumstance variation would have it, I actually found the ’45 on this night to be a small step behind the ’34. We are talking videotape replay, Indianapolis 500 photo finish material here 

  • 98p
There were excited expectations around us as we opened this bottle, seemingly in good condition, at our friend´s birthday. He had acquired it at an auction in America long ago, and had kept it in his cellar for over two decades in order to celebrate with it his 50th birthday, an occasion we were fortunate to have been invited to attend. Our notes were then: The wine was very deep, dark and richly coloured with a unique exotic nose of oriental spice, black truffles, and plenty of substance underneath – very vigorous! On the palate a full, unbelievably concentrated, sturdy wine. Chewy, intense and not a trace of age – this wine will last forever! Magnificent but in a good old-fashioned way! The best Burgundy we have ever tasted.
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Vosne-Romanée, Burgundy

Vineyard size


Age of vines


Vintage Quality


Value For Money

Very good

When bottled


Investment potential


Fake factory


Glass time

45 minutes

Drinking temperature


Other wines from this producer


Corton Grand Cru


Grands Echézeaux

La Tâche

Les Gaudichots




Romanee Saint Vivant

Vosne Romanée

Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Cuvée Duvault Blochet

Inside Information

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti‘record auction price’ / At the auction on 17 May at Christie’s Geneva a private American buyer bid US$123,889 (€87,815) for a single 75cl bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1945.

Aubert de Villaine (owner of the Domaine): "My memory of the last and perhaps only bottle of Romane-Conti 1945 tasted 10 years ago is that of one of the greatest wines ever. It perfectly expresses all that makes Romanée-Conti unique among the vines of the domaine: strength yet also grace and tranquility, self-assurance and a mysterious harmony which both intrigues and inspires dreams..."

Mythical...this bottle will remain mythical for many decades...for its vintage, which marked the end of a terrible war...for its contents, the last of the great wine from the prephyloxera (ungrafted) vines which covered the 1,85 ha of Romanee-Conti and were subsequently pulled-up in their entirety and followed by the next vintage in 1952...for its quantity, with approximately 600 bottles produced, each remains a coveted rarity...and for its perfect provenance and condition


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