By Cristal Guiet on June 18th, 2023

Collecting fine wine is like buying fine art or a number of other luxury items that collectors choose to invest in.

There is no shortage of expensive bottles of wine that are purchased and consumed.

However, there is another category of fine wine that is made up of rare difficult-to-find bottles that can fetch astronomical prices at auction or through private sales.

These bottles are available to the highest bidder and are usually purchased by private collectors and connoisseurs of fine vintage wine.

Once the acquisition has been made, these irreplaceable bottles are insured and carefully tucked away for safekeeping.

We have investigated the fine wine market to report on the eight most expensive wines sold to date. 

Château Margaux 1787 - $225,000.00

Château MargauxPhoto Courtesy: Enoteca Forcellini

Château Margaux has a long proud history that started back in 1500. By the 17th century, the wines produced by the château already had a reputation of excellence. 

In the following century, the 1771 vintage was the first claret (the British nickname for red Bordeaux wines) to appear in a Christie's catalog.

Emperor Napoléon III wished to glorify the exceptional red wines that were made in the Médoc area of Bordeaux by creating a classification system of wines produced by each estate and châteaux.

This system was rolled out in 1855 to commemorate the Second Universal Exposition in Paris held in 1855. Château Margaux was one of the fortunate estates to be classed as “Premier Grand Cru Classé”- a title given to just four châteaux.

Château Margaux still holds its reputation as one of the finest wines in the world and continues to be in demand by fine wine collectors worldwide.

They believed that this particular bottle had been part of the collection that belonged to former US President Thomas Jefferson.

During the four years that he spent as US ambassador to France, he fell in love with French wine. When he placed an order for the 1784 vintage he wrote “There couldn’t be a better Bordeaux bottle”.

William Sokolin, a New York wine merchant acquired the bottle through a consignment and was trying to sell the bottle of Margaux for $500,000.00.

There was little or no interest in the bottle and he ensured it for $225,000.00 as a precaution should something happen to it.

Its existence came to an unfortunate end when Mr Sokolin brought the bottle to a dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel where it was knocked off the table by a clumsy waiter smashing it to bits on the floor (If he was planning to drink or sell is still unknown)

The insurance company paid out the insurance policy in 1989.

 Château Lafite-Rothschild 1869 $ 233,972.00

Château Lafite-RothschildPhoto Courtesy: The Wall Street Journal

Château Lafite Rothschild has four hundred years of proud winemaking history.

The vineyards are some of the finest in the Médoc region, producing wines that are elegant and delicate.

The estate has ungrafted vines that are over 140 years old, escaping the devastation caused by Phylloxera in the late 19th century.

As one of the elite “Premier Grand Cru Classé” wines of the 1855 classification, Lafite has become especially desirable to Asian fine wine investors.

Sourced directly from the cellars of the Château, this rare bottle of 1869 Lafite was sold at Sothby’s in Hong Kong on 22 November 2010.

There was shock and surprise when the bottle reached the final selling price but the anonymous Asian buyer seemed unfazed over the price.

It made history by being the most expensive bottle of wine on the planet.

“Lafite has a soul, a beautiful, generous, kindly soul. Lafite turns bare earth into heaven. Lafite is harmony, harmony between man and nature because, without our magnificent winegrowers, nothing would be accomplished.” Baron Eric de Rothschild

Shipwrecked 1907 Heidsieck - $275,000.00

Shipwrecked 1907 HeidsieckPhoto Courtesy Heidsieck & C° Monopole

Heidsieck & C° Monopole is one of the oldest Champagne houses in France.

It was established by Floren-Louis Heidsieck, a young German cloth manufacturer from Westphalia. He built a trading company for wool and wine in 1785 in Reims, France.

The Champagne side of the business became so successful that he abandoned cloth manufacturing to focus full-time on selling wine.

In 1818, the house became the patented supplier for the Emperor of Germany and the King of Prussia followed by Tsar Nicolas II in 1907.

The 1907 vintage of Heisieck & Co Monopole Gout Américan is considered one of the most expensive Champagnes in the world.

There are still bottles available today, yet the quantities are minuscule and very hard to attain, making this an elusive and prized bottle of wine.

The shipwrecked bottles were recovered in 1997 from the Jönköping shipwreck in the Gulf of Finland.

The Swedish schooner was carrying war materials as well as 5,000 bottles of Piper Heidsieck Champagne, 67 casks of Cognac, and 17 barrels of wines that were en route to the Tsar of Russia to supply his troops on the front.

The vessel was intercepted and sunk off the coast of Finland by a German U-boat on 3 November 1916. 2,400 bottles of Champagne were recovered from the wreck in 1997 and were still intact with corks still firmly sealing the bottles.

A team of French experts tasted some of the first bottles to be recovered and declared that they were of “exceptional quality” even after having spent over 80 years quietly aging in the depths of the cold Baltic Sea.

Bottle #1392 was sold to a New Zealand wine collector for $275,000.00 in 2003.

Château Cheval Blanc 1947 - $304,375.00 (sold in 2010)

Château Cheval Blanc 1947Photo courtesy:

Château Cheval Blanc is one of the most famous properties in Saint-Emilion, founded in the 15th century.

The reputation for creating extraordinary wine was firmly established when the first gold medal was won at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1878. During its six centuries of existence, the consistent production of fine wines has made it famous worldwide.

A new winery was constructed in 1944 and is now classed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The 1947 vintage gained additional fame as wine experts declared that it is one of the finest Cheval Blanc vintages that have ever been produced, and also consider it as being one the best clarets made in the 21st century.

“1947 Cheval Blanc defies the laws of modern oenology”
French wine writer Michel Dorvaz

The winemaking style that was used by the winemaker was risky, but so successful in creating a combination of voluptuous flavors and lush texture made it beautiful to drink.

The vintage has risen to cult status, making it highly desired by fine wine collectors at any price.

Only 110,000 bottles of the vintage were produced, making this a tough wine to acquire while prices continue to skyrocket.

The Imperial bottle which was sold contains the equivalent of eight standard bottles on wine. Each bottle, if sold individually, would fetch $38,046.87 on average.

Who could resist this sort of bargain?

The bottle came from a private Swiss wine collection and was up for sale by Christie's in 2010. It is estimated that if the buyer should wish to keep the newly acquired treasure before drinking, it would easily age for a further fifty years (2060).

Château Mouton-Rothschild 1945 - $310,700.00

Château Mouton-Rothschild 1945Photo courtesy:

Originally named Brane-Mouton, the property was purchased by Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild in 1953, as he wished to make his own wine to serve to his guests.

The property was renamed Château Mouton Rothschild. In 1922, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the great-grandson of Nathaniel, took over the reins and decided in 1924 that all wines would be bottled at the Château.

In 1926 he commissioned the 100-meter-long Grand Chai to provide the additional storage that was needed.

At the time of the 1945 vintage, Château Mouton Rothschild was only classed as a “deuxième cru classé” (aka a lowly second growth) in the 1855 Bordeaux classification system.

However, Baron Philippe tirelessly pushed for Mouton to be promoted to a “Premier Grand Cru Classé” status which only happened in 1973.

An exiled Jew, Baron Philippe fled to Britain to avoid deportation during the Nazi occupation of France, only returning after the end of the war to supervise the harvest.

Despite being unable to manage the estate during the war, the quality of the wines that were produced continued to be extraordinary. Each vintage has a label that is specially designed by a chosen artist. The 1945 label created by Artist Philippe Julian displays the defiant words, “Année de la Victoire” (year of victory).

The production of the wine for the 1945 vintage was carefully supervised by the famed cellarmaster Raoul Blondin, who was in charge of Mouton cellars for over fifty years.

The Jeroboam (which holds three 75cl bottles) was sold to a private collector in 1997.

 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 - $500,000.00

Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992

The first vintage of Screaming Eagle was made in 1992, and soon classified as cult wine.

Limited in quantity, this Bordeaux blend made by the famous winemaker Heidi Barrett features Cabernet Sauvignon as the main varietal.

The estate produces around 500 to 600 cases a year. The limited quantities and exceptional quality of the wine fetch high prices at auction houses and found on the wine lists at the finest of restaurants.

The six-liter bottle was less than a decade old when it was sold at a charity auction in Napa Valley.

The wine was only available on a limited release in 1995, and as with all hard to attain fine wines, its value and desirability rose to epic heights. One collector (rumors say the lucky buyer was Chase Baily- a former Cisco systems executive) was willing to pay half a million dollars to add it to his private collection.

The wine has an exceptional aging potential. If the buyer does decide to lay it down, there is plenty of time to decide who they wish to share it with.

NB: Heidi Barrett from Screaming Eagle and her husband Bo Barrett from Chateau Montelena visited Fredericksburg on several occasions in 2022. It looks like they see the amazing potential in the Texan wine industry. Watch this space……….

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée Conti 1945 - $558,000.00

Domaine de la RomanéePhoto courtesy:

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, often shortened to "DRC", was founded in 1942 by Edmond Gaudin de Villaine in Vosné-Romanée, Côtes-de-Nuits Burgundy.

One of the rarest, most expensive, and frequently ranked as one of the finest wines in the world, Romanée-Conti has over 1500 years of history.

The first vintage was produced in 1232. Managed by the Benedictine Monks of Saint-Vivant during the 13th century, it was then bought by the Croonembourg family around the 17th century.

They were the ones who renamed the tiny parcel and came up with "La Romanée" (it used to be known as "Le Cloux des Cinq Journaux").

The grapevines were later sold to the Prince Louis-François de Bourbon-Conti by André de Croonembourg, in 1760 and acquired the name"Romanée-Conti".

The property was confiscated during the French Revolution and fell into the hands of Gabriel-Julien Ouvrard and Jacques-Marie Duvault-Blochet (the ancestor of the de Villaine and Leroy families) in 1819.

Since 1911, the twenty-five-hectare vineyards have been managed by two families: the successors of Edmond de Villaine and Henri Leroy.

The two winemakers, Aubert de Villaine and Henry-Frédéric Roch (as well as Lalou Bize-Leroy, from 1974 to 1992), took care of the DRC estate until the death of Henry-Frédéric in 2018, who left his seat to Perrine Fenal (Lalou's daughter).

Throughout the centuries, this Vosne-Romanée wine estate has become a true legend in Burgundy.

A reputation with a cost, since its prices have skyrocketed.

The bottle in question was sold to a private Asian collector at a Sothebys auction in New York as part of the Robert Drouhin Estate (one of Burgundy's most famous winemakers) in 2018.

As there were only 600 bottles of this vintage made “called the Unicorn Vintage” up until a few years ago it was the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold.

The Setting Wines Glass Slipper Vineyard 2019 - $1,000,000.00

The Setting Wines Glass Slipper Vineyard 2019Photo Courtesy: Luxury Launches

The Setting Vines was created by three friends who decided to create a collection of luxury wines in 2014.

Jeff Cova, Noah McMahon, and winemaker Joe Katz (who has spent fifteen harvests working at internationally acclaimed vineyards such as Château Petrus, as well as spending time on the winemaking team at Screaming Eagle, Robert Foley Winery, and Vinã Cobas in Argentina).

The collection of luxury wines is created from several relationships that span several decades around Napa and Sonoma County.

Only the finest grapes are chosen from the most prestigious vineyards in these regions. They became famous for creating special bottles given as gifts for organizations such as the LA Lakers. They were also sold at charity auctions to help finance worthy causes such as the Tony Hawk Foundation- which works to help low-income youngsters, and the Ellen Degeneres Fund- which helps to save endangered mountain gorillas.

A six-liter bottle was sold at a charity auction in November 2021. The one-off bottle format was unique.

The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were sourced from the Glass Slipper vineyard in Coombsville California.

900 bottles were produced in this vintage, making it rare and valuable for a collector.

Château Pétrus 2000 Cuvée de la Space $1,000,000.00

Château PétrusPhoto Courtesy: Christie’s Wine Auction and

Château Pétrus is regarded as one of the finest Châteaux in the Pomerol appellation in Bordeaux. It is located near the eastern border of Saint-Emilion on the Right Bank, and makes single varietal wine using only Merlot.

This world-famous estate of only 11.5 hectares sells some of the most expensive wine in Bordeaux.

Its origins date back to the mid-1750’s making it one of the oldest wineries in Pomerol. Pétrus agreed to send twelve bottles of the 2000 vintage into orbit on the Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus Capsule to the International Space Station in November 2019 to age for fourteen months.

The wine spent 400 days on the ISS and travelled an astonishing 186 million miles in zero gravity before it was returned to Earth on SpaceX’s SpaceDragon in January 2021.

The experiment was conducted by Space Cargo who were carrying out privately funded research to study food and wine in space. Upon its return to earth, the wines were tasted by a panel of experts at the University of Bordeaux’s Wine Institute in March 2021.

They compared it to the cellar-aged vintage of the same wine still commands a hefty price of $6900.00 per bottle.

One wine expert found that the celestial wine had strong floral aromatics and more pronounced smoky notes which is characteristic of Pétrus wine.

The lucky owner of the space-aged bottle also received a cellared bottle of the same vintage, decanter, glasses, and a corkscrew that was apparently crafted from the remains of a meteorite. The entire set is housed in a specially made cupboard that took over 900 hours to handcraft by the Maison d’Arts Les Atelier Victor in Paris France.

All proceeds from the auction have been donated to Space Cargo to fund their ongoing research in space.

Avenue Foch 2017 Mig designed ape-clad Magnum - $2,500,000.00

 Avenue FochPhoto courtesy: Lux Expose

Why would someone pay such a hefty price for 300cl of Champagne? In July 2022 when sold at auction, there was more to this bottle of wine than the liquid inside - which was made by Champagne Allouchery in Chamery France.

The bottle, which is a combination of wine, digital tokens, and art, is a collaboration between Mig, who became famous for his Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT, and British entrepreneur and luxury Champagne collector Shammi Shinh.

Just one bottle of this 2017 vintage premier cru wine was made.

The crypto currency NFT’s gives the owner the intellectual property rights to the image of the Bored Ape Mutant and the other cartoon figures that appear on the bottle.

Purchased by two Italian brothers Giovanni and Piero Bruno, Mr. Shinh hopes that the sale will help to raise awareness of NFTs so that people will be able to better understand their purpose and how they work.

In order to claim the actual physical bottle, the NFT tokens will need to be destroyed (it is very possible that the NFT will change hands several times before this actually happens). To be continued….

Like any other collector's item, wines can fetch some fantastic prices that in the examples above are almost unbelievable. Collectors of these bottles buy them as an investment and not to consume.

In many instances, the wine is possibly no longer fit for actual consumption. However, the prestige and the pleasure of being the owner of such a rare item obviously can justify the price tag.

Watch this space to see what the next most expensive bottle of wine sold will be.


Author: Cristal Guiet

Cristal has more than twenty three years of experience in the wine industry. In addition to creating wine lists in Michelin three-star restaurants, working with prestigious London wine merchants, and starting her own wine tourism company in France, Cristal has been writing about wine for over fifteen years. She holds the Advanced degree from Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), and resides in London.

The Eight Most Expensive Wines in the World

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