The most expensive red wines in the world today are collector’s items. The exaggerated prices are exclusive to particular bottles, which owe their high valuation either to auction prices, historical associations, or famous past owners. These wines are truly one of a kind!
Screaming Eagle Cabernet 1992, California, $500,000 (approximately £416,000)
Napa Valley’s celebrated Screaming Eagle winery is widely regarded as the home of the world’s best Cabernet Sauvignon. The low yields and high quality of these fine wines mean there is sky-high demand and a perpetual waiting list of thousands.
While a few of Screaming Eagle’s vintages have scored perfect 100 points – specifically the 1997 and 2007 – and the standard price for a Screaming Eagle is at least £2,500 – it is their first vintage of 1992 released by Jean Philips that claims the crown of the most expensive red wine.
The record-breaking price tag is largely down to a technicality – it was fetched for charity at the 2000 Napa Valley Wine Auction. Even so, the six-litre bottle of Napa Cab is now worth its price since it has been consistently topping the world’s expensive wine lists and gaining in value.
Château Margaux 1787, Bordeaux, $225,000 (approximately £187,000)
The catch with this particular wine is that it cannot be purchased. It earns the epithet of the most expensive wine unsold and qualifies as collector’s gold. Originally from the personal collection of the third American president Sir Thomas Jefferson, it was supposedly knocked over by a server during a Margaux dinner at a Four Seasons Hotel. It was valued then by New York wine merchant William Sokolin at an amount that was twice of what it is worth today. Interestingly, the current value is equal to the amount paid back then by the insurers for the spilled wine. Aside from the piece of history attached to it, the age of the vintage itself also lends to its value.
Château Lafite 1787, Bordeaux, $156,450 (approximately £130,000)
One of the world’s oldest wineries, ChâteauLafite has over 400 years of winemaking history and a tradition of producing high-quality highly valued wines that sell at record-breaking prices. Their signature Bordeaux is a blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc.
ChâteauLafite’s most expensive wine is a bottle of its 1787 vintage, also believed to be from the cellar of Thomas Jefferson, who was a prolific wine collector. The bottle, with the initials ‘ThJ’ etched on it, was purchased for a whopping price in 1985 by publishing magnate Malcolm Forbes. The wine’s age itself is reason enough for it to make it to lists of expensive wines of the world.
Cheval Blanc 1947 St Emilion, Bordeaux, $135,125 (approximately £112,000)
The Cheval Blanc 1947 has the semi-unique distinction of being one of the only two wines that have been granted Class A status among Saint-Emilion wines. Of the 110,000 bottles produced, only a few survive to this day. This particular three-litre bottle was purchased for a record price at Vinfolio in San Francisco in 2006.
Considered by experts to be the finest Cheval Blanc in the twentieth century, the 1947 vintage flaunts a rich and volatile acidity, a lush and smooth texture, and seductive flavours. It is a balanced blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1951, Australia, $38,420 (approximately £32,000)
Australia’s golden-ticket winery was established in 1844. Although the trademark Penfolds wines are their famous blends of Cab Sauv and Syrah, their portfolio is diverse and impressive. Many of their wines are produced from grapes sourced from multiple regions and vineyards across Australia.
The 1951 Penfolds Grange Hermitage is not only one of the most expensive red wines in the world but also the most expensive wine from Australia. It is also one of the finest wines to have been produced Down Under. This particular wine smashed records when it was purchased for an exorbitant price in 2004 at an MW Wines auction in Adelaide. Only twenty bottles of the vintage are known to be in existence today.
But what about expensive red wines that you can actually get your hands on? There are plenty of expensive vintages that are available for purchase, unlike the ChâteauMargaux 1787, despite their limited production and high demand. Take your pick from the likes of Domaine Georges and Christophe Roumier Musigny Grand Cru 1990, Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru 2012, andDomaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti Grand Cru 1990, all of which are currently priced above £9,750.