The World's Most Expensive Wines

The majority of our most expensive wines come from the cellars of Burgundy.
© Domaine Leroy | The majority of our most expensive wines come from the cellars of Burgundy.
With the top wine almost doubling in price this year, this list isn't for the faint-hearted.
By Don Kavanagh | Posted Tuesday, 31-Aug-2021

Imagine visiting a restaurant and being charged $17,000 for a bottle of wine – and then going back a year later and being charged almost double for the same bottle.

Welcome to the world of very expensive wine.

Related stories:
Burgundy Prices Deterring Everyday Buyers
Wine's Struggle between Price and Reputation
The Morality of Buying Expensive Wine

The trouble with listing the world's most expensive wines is that you have to define expensive and that's not as easy as it looks. One person's splashing out on a little treat is someone else's act of lunacy. And expensive isn't just looking above the eye-level shelves at the liquor store or venturing into the "library stock" section of the wine list.

For genuinely expensive wine, we need to look way beyond the ordinary and stop thinking of price as a barrier. Just because a wine costs the equivalent of the US median annual wage is no reason to think you'll never afford it. After all, what is price except the ultimate wine score? Instead of listening to a bunch of wine critics saying "We think this wine is worth 93 points", why not go with the entire wine world when it says "We believe this wine to be worth $30,000 a bottle"?

Burgundy tends to crop up a lot whenever someone mentions bottles that cost $30,000, but we can't blame everything on the C?te d'Or. There are bottles of scotch that make our most expensive wines look positively anemic around the price tag and there are wines with individual vintages that make the average prices look very pedestrian indeed (and more about that shortly).

Burgundy does dominate, let's not pretend otherwise; but the list is not simply a reproduction of the Most Expensive Pinot Noirs list, by any means. For a start, four of the wines here are white, while one is from the Rh?ne Valley and another isn't even from France.

So how did we get the prices listed below? Well, it's not as easy as you'd think. Because the global average prices change daily, we take a snapshot of prices at the start of each month and that is the average price we use for our list of the world's most expensive. We also require wines to have a certain number of vintages available for sale and to be available in a reasonable number of retailers.

The World's Most Expensive Wines on Wine-Searcher:

The obvious difference when comparing this list with last year's is that there are now eight wines with a global average price that stretches into five figures; a year ago there were six, and just five in 2019. It's odd to think that in 2019, a global average retail of just $6006 was enough to make it onto the list.

The other elephant in the room is the sheer size of the price increases, mostly fueled by the roaring trade in Burgundy – or at least part of Burgundy. DRC's average price rose by a little more than 13 percent in the past year, Leflaive's by 17.4 percent, Henri Jayer by 15 percent and the Roumier Musigny by 19 percent, the Leroy wines have forged ahead effortlessly. 

The Musigny is up by 90 percent on last year, while the Domaine d'Auvenay Chevalier-Montrachet has almost tripled in price, going from a global average of $7553 a year ago to more than $20,000 today. The Chambertin has been modest by comparison, with a hike in the average price of "just" 44.5 percent in the past year.

Looking at the maximum prices these wines are on offer for can be instructive, too. The maximum prices tend to be charged for the best, most sought-after vintages and are priced accordingly. For the Leroy Musigny, 2015 was the annus mirabilis, and the average price for a bottle of the 2015 vintage is $126,000, up from $79,687 a year ago. The top offer for a bottle of the 2015 is just north of $132,000. 

For its old rival DRC, the story is very different. Looking at the most expensive offers for DRC, there is much less uniformity around vintages and a much wider spread. The single most expensive offer is a shade under $90,000 for a bottle of the 2016, but 2015, 2005 and 1999 also attract huge prices.

Those two wines are by far the most expensive, whether measured by average price or highest offer price. Imagine how much they will cost next year.

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