Top 10 most expensive wines sold at auctionBy Lauren Eads
The fine wine world is rife with elite collectors keen to get their hands on a choice vintage – but which wines command the highest value?
In recent years bottles wines from some of the best Chateaux and wineries across the world have sold for astronomical prices, with others, despite selling more than 20 year’s ago, still holding their own among the top 10.
Judging by this list, it seems the value of a fine wine depends not only on a respectable vintage, but on its historical value, age and propensity to get smashed…
Scroll through to see some of the most expensive wines ever sold at auction..
Have we missed any? Let us know in the comments below.
10. Massandra Sherry de la Frontera 1775 – £25,000 ($43,500)
Massandra’s Sherry de la Frontera 1775, known as the Massandra Sherry 1775, is the oldest wine to appear on this list at 239-years-old. It also holds the record as the world’s most expensive bottle of sherry, after a single bottle was sold at a 2001 Sotheby’s auction in London for $43,500. The bottle came from the Massandra Winery in Ukraine, known for its large collection of more than a million vintage wines.
9. Chateau d’Yquem 1787 – £65,000 ($100,000)
In 2006 a rare bottle of 1787 Chateau d’Yquem was bought for $100,000 by American collector, Julian LeCraw. At the time it was hailed as the most expensive white wine in the world, however its sale has since turned sour becoming the subject of an ongoing law suit over claims it was fake.
8. Jeroboam of Château Mouton-Rothschild 1945 – £67,000 ($114,614)
In 1997 a jeroboam of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945, considered one of the great vintages of the last century, sold to an anonymous bidder at Christie’s in London for $114,614, the equivalent of $23,000 per 750ml. Bottled at the end of the World War II, the 1945 vintage label is known for its “V” for victory.
7. Chateau d’Yquem 1811 – £70,000 ($117,000)
Christian Vanneque, a wine connoisseur, bought this 200-year-old bottle of Chateau d’Yquem 1811 for $117,000 in 2011, making it the most expensive bottle of white wine in the world. The restaurateur, who bought the wine from The Antique Wine Company, said he would be displaying the bottle behind bullet proof glass at his Balinese restaurant, Sip Sunset Grill. Just 10 bottles of the 1811 vintage were made, about 3,000 bottles, with just 10 now believed to exist worldwide.
6. Chateau Lafite 1787 – £92,000 ($156,450)
Also known as The Billionaire’s Vinegar, this bottle of 1787 Château Lafite Bordeaux was allegedly owned by Thomas Jefferson and sold for $156,000 at auction in 1985. But despite its sale being completed more than 20 years ago, debate over its authenticity still continues today. It was bought by publisher Malcolm Forbes and had the initials ThJ, believed to be those of the former President Thomas Jefferson, etched in the glass. However, its authenticity has been the subject of speculation, with experts split on the matter, so much so that it’s origins became the subject of bestselling book The Billionaire’s Vinegar, which tells the story of this mysterious wine through experts and those closest to its sale.
5. Château Margaux 1787 — £133,000 ($225,000)
Not so much a sale, as an unfortunate insurance claim, but an interesting tale to include in our list nonetheless. In 1989 New York wine merchant, William Sokolin, valued a 1987 bottle of Château Margaux, also from Thomas Jefferson’s collection, at $500,000. But before the collector could test his valuation on the market disaster struck. Having taken the bottle with him to the Four Seasons for dinner one evening, a waiter knocked it over smashing it to pieces. Insurers later paid out $225,000, making it the most expensive bottle never sold.
4. Chateau Lafite’s 1869 – £136,000 ($230,000)
In 2010 three bottles of Chateau Lafite’s 1869 vintage sold for $230,000 each making it the world’s most expensive standard sized bottle of wine ever sold. All three were bought by the same buyer at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong which saw almost 2,000 bottles of Lafite shipped in to be sold. The oldest bottles, from the 1869 vintage, were estimated to sell for up to HK$60,000 each (£4,599), which makes its eventual selling price all the more remarkable.
3. Shipwrecked 1907 Heidsieck – £163,000 ($275,000)
In 1998, 2,000 bottles of 1907 Heidsieck Champagne were salvaged from a ship which had been torpedoed by German sub during World War I. The ship was originally destined for the Imperial Court of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, who had commissioned a Swedish freighter to deliver wine and the 1907 Heidsieck Champagne, before it was struck by a German submarine in 1916. Its cargo remained at the bottom of the sea for some 80 years before its was salvaged off the cost of Finland in 1998. Since then the bottles have been sold at various auctions around the world for their historic value selling for $275,000 each.
2. 1947 French Cheval-Blanc – £192,000 ($304,375)
An imperial bottle of 1947 Cheval Blanc was sold at auction for the respectable sum of £192,000 ($304,375) in November 2010, setting a world record for the most expensive single bottle of wine ever sold at auction. The The now 67-year-old bottle, the only known bottle in the Imperial format from this particular Saint-Emilion vintage, was sold to a private collector at Christies, Geneva, smashing the auction house’s estimated price of between $150,000 and $200,000.
1. Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 – £297,000 ($500,000)
While the officially recognised most expensive wine sold at auction is the previously mentioned 1947 Cheval Blanc, there is another bottle of wine which was sold for more. However because it was sold part of a charity auction, and thus discounted, it is regularly omitted from official lists. In 2000 a six-litre bottle of Screaming Eagle Cabernet currently holds the unofficial title of most expensive bottle of wine ever sold at auction. It went under the hammer at a charity wine auction in Napa for the staggering sum of $500,000, reported to have been purchased by Chase Bailey, a former Cisco Systems executive.