A complete and up-to-date ranking list for such wines is difficult to obtain, as the market is constantly changing. Very expensive wines are almost without exception produced on the basis of extremely low yields and with the most elaborate methods, often "handmade", often in small quantities of only a few thousand bottles. The term garage wine is also used for these. For a single 0.75 litre bottle of such absolute top-quality wines one has to pay at least 100 to 200, in some cases up to 500 Euros and for older and/or outstanding vintages up to five and not so rarely ten times that amount. Apart from outstanding quality, historical background or famous previous owners are also important for the high value of a wine bottle. This means that there are certainly collectors who do not purchase such wines for the purpose of enjoyment.
Top qualities are usually also characterised by a long shelf life. This means that they do not reach their peak from the time they are marketed, and therefore they are not ready to drink until they have been stored for a long time or matured in bottles. These wines at the age of 10, 20, 30 years and even older can also be expected to be in optimal condition and free from wine defects. The list of the most expensive wines in the world regularly includes crescences from the following producers or wineries:
For wines before the Second World War, especially those of the 19th century and older, special laws apply, as the historical value also counts here. They are also not always acquired for enjoyment and can be quite inedible. Such special vintages are auctioned off at truly imaginative prices. Naturally, the highest prices are achieved at auctions. For many years the record holder was a Château Lafite-Rothschild 1787, which was sold for $156,450 by Christie's auction house in 1985. The bottle, which came from the estate of the third US president Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), went to the US publisher Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990). It came from a mysterious find, the seller was the well-known collector of wine rarities Hardy Rodenstock (1941-2018). In the consequence four wines of it (Château Lafite-Rothschild and Château Mouton-Rothschild for $ 500.000) led to several lawsuits and trials.
Finally, the long-standing record was broken. In October 2010, the Sotheby's Hong Kong auction house auctioned three bottles of Château Lafite-Rothschild 1869 for 1.8 million Hong Kong dollars each. The buyer was allegedly a telephone company from Asia, but the name was not disclosed. The three bottles came directly from the cellar of the winery in Pauillac. The most expensive white wine sold in 2011 was a Château d'Yquem of the legendary 1811 vintage from the Antique Wine Company in London for £ 75,000 (€ 85,000). The buyer was the Bali-based sommelier and wine collector Christian Vanneque (*1950) who exhibited the bottle at the opening of his new restaurant "SIP Sunset Grill".
In August 2012 a "Cabernet Sauvignon Kalimna Block 42 Ampoule 2004" from the Australian Penfolds Winery changed hands for € 160,000. The wine is bottled in a special container. This consists of a mouth-blown, cylindrical glass vial, which is placed in a conically shaped glass sculpture, which in turn is placed in a container made of precious jarrah wood. It comes from the vineyard "Kalimna Block 42" with extremely old vines planted as early as 1885. Only 12 units of this exceptional specimen were produced. The buyer was a regular guest of the Tyrolean five star hotel "Jagdhof" in Neustift (Stubaital). The sale was arranged by Matthias Tanzer, the chief sommelier of the vineyard
The most expensive champagne comes from a shipwreck discovered in 2010 (see in detail under the keywords Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin and also Heidsieck Monopole). The Scharzhofberger Trockenbeerenauslese vintage 1999 from the Egon Müller-Scharzhof winery (Mosel wine region), sold in 2011 at the VDP auction in Eberbach monastery, holds the German record. However, the actually most expensive wine does not appear in the various record lists for the most part because it was not a "real" sale, but a charity event at which it was sold. This is the legendary Screaming Eagle Jg 1992 from Napa Valley, which was rated with 99 Parker points. Half a million US dollars was paid for a 6 liter bottle.
The list in the table makes no claim to completeness. It should be noted that the prices are indicated differently for each source in € (Euro = 1), US$ (US dollar = 1.14), HK$ (Hong Kong dollar = 8.91), AU$ (Australian dollar = 1.60) or £ (pound sterling = 0.88) (the ratios on 9 February 2019 are in brackets). In order to be able to make an exact comparison, one would have to take into account the respective market value of the years of sale. For some bottles there are sometimes considerable price differences in the sources and different currency indications. Nearly all wine bottles listed below have a volume of 0.7 (for very old vintages) or 0.75 litres. The exceptions (*) are Château Cheval Blanc (double magnum with 3 l), Screaming Eagle(Impériale with 6 l) and the Château Mouton-Rothschild(Jeroboam with 4.5 l), which is listed below as the penultimate bottle. A correct ranking is therefore difficult. The wines were sorted in ascending order by price, regardless of their currency:
|Egon Müller-Scharzhof||English||Trockenbeerenauslese||1999||Wei||VDP 2011||€ 6.433|
|Jaboulet-Aîné||Fra||Hermitage La Chapelle||1961||Red||Christie's 2007||£ 10.312|
|Cathedral of the Romanée-Conti||Fra||Montrachet (Chardonnay)||1978||Wei||Sotheby's 1996||$ 23.929|
|Massandra||Spa||Sherry||1775||White||Sotheby's 2001||£ 27.867|
|Penfolds Grange||From||Shiraz, CS||1951||Red||Oddbins 2004||$ 35.767|
|Château d'Yquem||Fra||Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc||1784||Wei||Christie's 1986||£ 36.000|
|Cathedral of the Romanée-Conti||Fra||Romanée-Conti (PN)||1945||Red||Field Merall 2007||$ 41.825|
|Moët et Chandon||Fra||Dom Pérignon Rosé (PN)||1959||Cha||Field Merall 2008||$ 42.350|
|Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin||Fra||Pinot noir||1839||Cha||Artcurial 2011||$ 46.640|
|Château d'Yquem||Fra||Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc||1811||Wei||AWC 2011||£ 75.000|
|Château Mouton-Rothschild||Fra||CS, CF, Merlot||1945||Red||Christie's 1997||$ 114.614|
|Château Cheval Blanc *||Fra||CF, Merlot, Cot, CS||1947||Red||Christie's 2006||$ 135.125|
|Château Lafite-Rothschild||Fra||CS, Merlot, CF||1787||Red||Christie's 1985||$ 156.450|
|Penfolds||From||Kalimna Block 42 (CS)||2004||Red||Tyrol 2012||€ 160.000|
|Heidsieck Monopolies||Fra||Diamond Blue (PN, Chard)||1907||Cha||Moscow 1998||€ 224.000|
|Château Margaux||Fra||CS, Merlot, CF||1787||Red||New York 1989||€ 225.000|
|Château Lafite-Rothschild||Fra||CS, Merlot, CF||1869||Red||Sotheby's 2010||$ 232.692|
|Château Mouton-Rothschild *||Fra||CS, CF, Merlot||1945||Red||Sotheby's 2007||$ 310.700|
|Screaming Eagle *||USA||Cabernet sauvignon||1992||Red||Napa Valley 2000||$ 500.000|
One of the most expensive bottles of wine was broken during a somewhat obscure sales attempt that was never clarified exactly. In 1989, the US wine dealer William Sokolin (1930-2015) organized an exquisite dinner in the New York restaurant "Four Seasons", at which a Château Margaux of the vintage 1787 from the estate of the 3rd US president Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) with his initials "Th. J." was to be sold for $ 500,000 by order of the English owner with media impact. About 180 people were invited.
A waiter pushed the bottle off the table, which shattered as shown in the picture. After a second version, Sokolin ran with the bottle in his hand into the tray of a waiter. The bottle had no shrinkage at all, because Château Margaux had allegedly corked the bottle a year before and filled up the shortage with Margaux vintage 1959. An insurance company had to shell out $ 225,000, which was shared by the unknown owner and Sokolin. Whether a buyer would actually have found a buyer at the exorbitantly high price is at least questionable, at any rate there was no offer at the time of the accident. If so, this would most likely have been by far the most expensive wine bottle
There is a special story about two bottles of Château Haut-Brion of the legendary comet vintage 1811 (see in detail there), for which a very high, but never circulated price was paid. See also under oldest wines, as well as a list of special crescences under century wines.