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Top 10 Most Expensive Fine Wine Collections Ever Sold at Auction as of 2023
January 3, 2021
Before we start our discussion about the most expensive fine wine collections and bottles in the world ever sold as of 2023, you should know that the demand for wine collections of exceptional quality is at an all-time high. There are many wine collectors across the world competing to acquire the rarest fine wines and most valuable bottles, whose availability is often scarce due to the various challenges of growing quality harvests.
Although wine auctions were initially a focus for auction houses based in London, over the past 30 years the world has experienced a global shift in the sale of wine at auction.
The trend initially spread to New York, with Hong Kong wine auctions quickly gaining momentum following the 2008 recession. Today, it is possible to attend in person, or bid over the phone and internet at wine auctions in London, Paris, Chicago, California, Beverly Hills, Hong King and New York, to name a few.
Fine assets are always in big demand as prices at auctions around the world continue to grow every year. You may also want to read our comprehensive articles on most expensive items ever sold on auction for assets like fine jewellery, expensive Cartier jewelry, luxury handbags, classic cars , diamonds and art. If you like watches, then we wrote articles on the Top 10 most expensive Rolexes ever sold , and Top 10 Most Expensive Watches ever sold.
Impact of Ukraine War on the Most Expensive Fine Wine and Champagne In the World As of 2023
With supply chain disruptions and inflation, the prices of fine wine and champagne bottles and collections continue to rise exponentially. The wine industry has reportedly seen a 30 percent rise in costs this year. These increases continue to drive up the cost of fine wine and champagne bottles each year.
The world’s economic state governs the wine industry, creating a rise in prices that helped sell the most expensive bottle of fine wine in 2022: a 2019 bottle of Glass Slipper Vineyard Cabernet that sold for $1 million in 2021. This was the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold in the world at a charity auction to the current date (at the time of this writing in 2023).
The same likely goes for the most expensive champagne in the world as of 2023: a bottle of Champagne Avenue Foch that sold for $2.5 million in a private 2022 sale. A pair of Italian cryptocurrency brothers purchased this Champagne bottle through this private sale, making it the most expensive Champagne in the world. And although it is a magnum of champagne, it comes with much more than just a glass of bubbly.
Supply Chain Disruptions on bottles & collections of wine
Supply chain challenges and material shortages have impacted the wine industry over the last few years. Labor shortages in the United States and elsewhere in the world have contributed to these supply chain issues. In addition, with the looming pandemic, many companies were not operating at full capacity or, if at all, creating a shortage of workers to distribute fine wines.
The transportation industry’s restrictions make importing fine wine across borders challenging, and limited in-person auctions where these fine wine bottles would be available.
With continuous labor and material shortages needed for packaging and transportation, these are some of the most challenging supply chain issues for the fine wine industry in the past 20 years.
Naturally, inflation directly impacts the costs of obtaining fine wine bottles & collections worldwide. These increased costs can present struggles for securing affordable venue rentals, hospitality lodging costs for potential buyers, and other associated fees that may be prevalent with hosting a large-scale auction.
Therefore, wine producers must raise the costs of the fine wine products they sell at auctions to cover these increases. Although the everyday wine industry has bounced back from a recession, producing 10% growth, the fine wine industry is showing a significant 29.3% growth to account for inflation factors.
Most Expensive Bottles of Wine in the World Sold during COVID & Ukraine War (2019 – 2022)
November 2021 brought the sale of the most expensive bottle of wine in the world as of 2023, with a 6-liter bottle of The Setting Wines 2019 Glass Slipper Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon for $1 million at a charity auction. Consequently, a 750ml bottle of the exact fine wine will cost enthusiasts only a modest $185. However, only 900 of these bottles are produced and in circulation, making them scarce, which could drive up prices later as the demand rises.
Alternatively, as we saw, in early July 2022, a pair of brothers made history by spending $2.2 million on a magnum of Champagne Avenue Foch 2017 that contains NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Shammi Shinh, a British entrepreneur, commissioned and sold the bottle to the Italian brothers, hoping to juice up the market with its NFT offerings.
This unique sale transfers the digital art and intellectual property rights to the buyer which are tradable commodities on the blockchain. The image is of the famous Bored Ape Mutant, alongside the other collectible cartoon figures featured on the bottle. Buyers of this champagne receive more than what is inside the bottle, opening up the fine wine industry to more investment options than just a drink.
Other most expensive bottles of fine wines in the world sold at auctions in recent years as of 2023 include:
- 1947 Cheval Blanc was sold at auction for $304,375 in 2010
- 1907 Heidsieck Champagne sold for $275,000 in 1998
- Chateau Lafite’s 1869 vintage sold for $230,000 in 2010
- 1787 Château Lafite Bordeaux sold for $156,000 in 1985
- 200-year-old bottle of Chateau d’Yquem 1811 sold for $117,000 in 2011
- Jeroboam of Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 sold for $114,614 in 1997
- 1787 Chateau d’Yquem sold for $100,000 in 2006
- 239-year-old Massandra Sherry 1775 sold for $43,500 in 2001
The Most Expensive Wine In the World as of 2023 (Sold during the COVID 19 Pandemic)
The most expensive bottles of wine in the world in 2023 have been rapidly changing because of disruptions to the wine industry.
The COVID pandemic led to fewer people in stores and restaurants buying wine, driving sales down. Also, climate change events have affected some of the prime wine areas of the world. Fires in Australia and California, in particular, have changed the way that the world drinks wine.
Ultimately, wine auction houses and enthusiasts alike have had to change how they collect wine, with the Asian market, Hong Kong, in particular, becoming one of the best markets for wine bottles & collections sales in the world.
1. Wines from the Cellar of Joseph Lau (sold for $6.8 million)
Joseph Lau, a billionaire who lives in Hong Kong and is known for his love of art and fine wine, began selling part of his enormous fine wine collection in October 2020. Lau has collected his huge wine cache over several decades, focusing on only the most expensive wine brands as of 2023.
Sotheby’s performed the fine wine auction. Experts priced Lau’s collection, which consisted of 117 lots, at around $3.3 million, but the final number ended at $6.8 million.
The top sale comes from 12 Romanée-Conti Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1990. The bottles were some of the most expensive bottles of wine ever sold and amassed $509,000 on their own. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) is a wine estate in Burgundy which produces some of the most expensive wines in the world since 2023.
2. Bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon (sold for $1 million)
There’s now an answer to the question, what is the most expensive bottle of wine in the world in 2023, and it is a six-liter bottle of Setting Wines 2019 Glass Slipper Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
Instead of a fine wine collection, this bottle from California’s Napa Valley fetched $1 million by itself. It is not clear what made this bottle of the world-famous Cabernet Sauvignon so special, but it could have been the cause that the sale supported. The proceeds for the auction, which took place in November 2021, go towards the charity of American chef Emeril Lagasse.
Don Steiner placed the winning bid, which won him the bottle. No one knows much about the man who spent so much on one bottle of red wine.
3. Barrel of 2019 Nuits St. Georges (sold for $231,000)
In May 2021, Acker Wines held a two-day fine wine auction that netted $10 million. The auction commenced in Hong Kong, an area up and coming in the world of fine wine, and overall, the sale achieved 201 new world records, including one of the most expensive fine wine collections as of 2023.
However, the biggest sale came from lot 1114, where the house sold a 216-liter barrel of 2019 Comte Liger-Belair Nuits St. Georges. From the cellars of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair, the barrel sold for an astounding $231,000.
Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair is located in Burgundy, France, one of the primary wine capitals of the world. The Liger-Belair family has been making wines in the area for 200 years, and many consider this Domaine one of the greatest on earth.
4. Methuselah from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (sold for $978,000)
Expensive white wine couldn’t compete with the reds in the last few years, and the highest-selling, most expensive single bottle of 2020 is proof.
“Kingdoms” by Baghera/wine sold six large-format six-liter bottles of Methuselah from the legendary Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. A Swiss buyer bought lot 14 for about $978,000.
The auction took place in December of 2020 and sold all of their lots for an astounding $3.9 million altogether. Kingdoms also sold six large-format Jeroboam bottles from DRC for $443,000 and several wines from the Enoteca Pinchiorri collection for $1.9 million.
BEYOND COVID 19 – The 10 Most Expensive Wine In the World EVER SOLD as of 2023
1) A 17,000 bottles collection sold at the Tran-scend-ent Wines Auction (sold for $29.8 million)
This auction took place in March 2019 in Hong Kong and set a new world record for a private fine wine collection, with a sale price of $29.8 million. The sale crushed previous estimates and sold for nearly $4 million above its estimated pre-sale price, making it the most expensive wine ever sold in the world at the time of this writing in 2023.
The collection was valued for its rarity, with bottles including first-class wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux. The collection was sold by an anonymous owner, who was simply referred to as a fifth-generation developer of properties.
2) A private wine collection of Bill Koch’s (sold for £21.9 million)
Before the 2019 auction, the record for the most expensive wine collection to be sold at auction was held by a Sotheby’s auction which took place in New York in 2016. The collection was owned by the billionaire wine collector Bill Koch, who was well known for exposing counterfeits of fine wine.
The total sales for the auction outstripped the estimate of $15 million and reached £21.9 million, another worthy entry on our list of most expensive wines in the world as of 2023.
3) A collection from the cellar of Robert Drouhin (sold for $7.3 million)
In 2018 Sotherby’s of New York sold two bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s, setting a new record at the time for the most expensive bottles of wine to ever be sold at an auction as of 2023. The bottles which were of a 1945 vintage sold for $558,000 and $496,000, which was five times more than the pre-sale estimate.
The collection included a variety of rare and vintage bottles of Burgundy’s most popular wine, with 100% of the bottles sold and achieving a total of $7.3 million.
The collector was a part of a family that runs an acclaimed Burgundy winery, Maison Joseph Drouhin, so it is no surprise that the collection was valued so highly.
4) A collection owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber (sold for £2.6 million)
Although Webber made his fortune from his musicals such as Phantom of the Opera and Cats, he is no stranger to investing in other areas. In 2011, his collection of 8,837 bottles of French wines was sold in Hong Kong for £3.5 million. The collection was split into smaller lots, with cases of 6 or 8 bottles and a total estimate of £2.6 million.
However, the eagerly anticipated sale surpassed all estimates with buyers competing for bids in person, over the phone, and online. The most expensive wine bottle sold was a Domaine de la Romanée Conti of the 1990 vintage, which achieved a price of £17,460.
Although, the most expensive wine lot within the collection sold for £48,500. The collection included 12 bottles of Chateau Petrus produced in 1982, which is one of the most desirable Bordeaux wines.
5) A collection of shipwrecked wines rescued from the bottom of the Baltic (sold for $273,000)
In 2016 Bonhams was asked to auction a bottle of The Heidsieck & Co Monopole 1907 Goût Américan Champagne, which was part of a collection rescued from a sunken yacht. This specific bottle was sold for $273,000 (£213,000), with several of the same bottles sold at various auctions for the same price.
The yacht was sunk during World War 1 when it was detained and then sunk by a German U-boat, which left bottles of these fine wines at the bottom of the sea for 80 years.
The collection was being transported to Finland in 1916 and included fine wines, Cognac, and Champagne. In 1998 operations began to salvage the remains of the collection, with divers discovering more than 2000 expensive bottles of wine, all in excellent condition.
6) An imperial-sized bottle of Cheval Blanc 1947 from a secret cellar collection (sold for $304,375)
In 2010 a wine auction held in Geneva caused a stir when it sold a bottle of the mythical Cheval Blanc 1947 for $304,375. The bottle was part of a secret Swiss collection, which had been held in a cellar for a number of years.
It is the only known bottle in an Imperial format for this vintage. According to the auction house Christie’s, it took two years to convince the collector that it was the right time to consign the collection, based on the strength of the market conditions.
The vintage is hailed as one of the greatest Bordeaux wines of all time, based on its rarity and longevity. In the same sale, another collector auctioned off a collection amounting to more than 460 bottles, which helped to really put this auction on the map.
7) A collection of 2000 bottles from Lafite’s wine cellars (sold for $233,973)
In 2010, the sale of 2000 bottles from this renowned collector caused a stir and firmly positioned Asia as a serious wine market for some of the most expensive wines. The first lot was sold in 2009 and reached three times the rate expected in America at the time.
So, it was no surprise when a bottle of the famous 1869 Château Lafite sold for $233,973, a far cry from the original estimate of $8,000.
In Asia, Lafite is considered a luxurious purchase, with many wealthy collectors seeking the best vintages to add to their collection or offer as valuable gifts. The star of the auction was the 1869 vintage, with so many people looking to witness the sale that tickets had to be issued.
Following the auction, the price of Lafite of all vintages rocketed by 10-15%, with some merchants recording extraordinary levels of sales in the days after.
8) A collection directly sold by Chateau Mouton Rothschild (sold for $376,000)
In 2015, the famous winery found itself discussed by wine collectors across the world when its lots sold for 93% more than their estimate, reaching a total of $4.1 million, one of the most expensive wine collections sold as of 2023. The most sought-after lot of the auction was a 66-bottle collection that spanned 68 vintages, running from 1945 to 2012, although the years 1958 and 1963 were excluded.
This particular lot set a world record for Mouton vertical sold at auction, with a price reached of $376,000. This was particularly important for the winery as it served as a commemoration of the late Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, with proceeds given to a non-profit charity in her name.
A number of other lots in this auction set new records, including a single bottle of Chateau Mouton Rothschild from 1870, three bottles from the 1959 vintage, a magnum from 1945, and a 15-litre Nebuchadnezzar from 2000. The lot included many sought-after wines and achieved an impressive sale price of $117,788.
9) A record for the most valuable white wine ever sold as of 2021 – 2023 (sold for $117,000)
Although not quite sold at auction, the impressive price achieved for this 1811 Château d’Yquem ensures that it deserves a mention in our 2023 list of the most expensive wine. It is one of just 10 bottles that exist worldwide and has been awarded 100 points by Robert Parker, who described it as one of the greatest wines in the history of Bordeaux.
The bottle of white wine was sold by The Antique Wine Company to Christian Vanneque, a private wine collector. As the former head of La Tour d’Argent, a famous Parisian restaurant, he certainly knows his wines. The wine was sold for $117,000, which explains why it now sits proudly protected by bulletproof glass in his current Balinese restaurant in Indonesia.
10) A collection from Massandra (sold for $43,500)
Massandra is the oldest wine cellar operating in Ukraine, with its 1775 sherry the rarest bottle of its kind. Although this is the most historic auction on our 2023 list of the most expensive wines in the world, the rare Massandra Sherry de la Frontera reached an impressive $43,500 when it sold in 2001.
It is the oldest known bottle in existence from the winery, so it is no surprise that it achieved such a high price in the auction held by Sotheby’s of London.
Image credit: pinterest.com
The Massandra winery collection includes more than 1 million vintage wines, but this sherry is prized for its unique golden colour. The winery has caused a stir in more recent years when in 2015 another bottle from 1775 was opened for Russian president Putin and the Italian media personality Silvio Berlusconi.
Before 2014 the area was owned by the Ukrainian government, which makes these wines historically significant. It is thought that Ukrainian prosecutors are planning to charge the winery’s manager with embezzlement for the over-generous gesture.
To quickly sum up the 5 most expensive wine bottles and collections in the world as of 2023, you can also watch our short video below:
That concludes our list of the top 10 most expensive wines ever sold at auction as of 2023.
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