After getting introduced to the basics about grape varieties, interesting wine-facts and of course bargain hunting techniques in the blog posts of the Weekend Warrior Wine Deals series, let’s start the new year by taking a look at some of the most expensive wines available on the market today.
One of the most famous wines making the headlines in 2000 was a 6L bottle of the 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet, which sold for $500.000 at a charity auction. Unfortunately, this Californian red has a long, long waiting list for those who wish to buy a newer vintage, and even its sister winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon (which in the States sells for between $100 and $1000) is also unavailable for purchases on the Australian market.
On the other hand, almost every other famed winery’s masterpieces can be yours… if you’re willing to spend over $1000 a bottle. You'll probably be surprised to hear that many of the remarkable wines created by the producers of those legendary pieces - sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars at auctions - are actually available at your local bottle’O.
As an example, Dan Murphy's stocks both the 2009 and 2010 vintage red blends of Lafite Rothschild Pauillac. As one of France’s oldest vineyards, Lafite officially holds the record for the two most expensive single bottles of wines ever sold. The 1787 vintage, previously owned by Thomas Jefferson (president of the United States) was sold for $160.000. Bottled a century later under the ownership of the Rothschild family, the 1869 vintage Lafite was sold at an auction in Hong Kong in 2010 for $232.692, making it the most expensive wine of all times.
Today, you’ll be looking at paying roughly $2500 for a bottle of 21st century Lafite Rothschild at Dan Murphy’s. Meanwhile, made directly by the prestigious estate of Mouton Rothschild, the 2009 Bordeaux is currently selling for $1599 at Vintage Direct, which is priced at $400 lower than the exact same wine at Dan Murphy’s.
But you don’t have to go too far to find an outstanding wine - in every aspect. Our very own Penfolds took a leap in 2012 and released a limited edition of the 2004 Block 42 Kalimna Cabernet Sauvignon, replacing the Grange as the most expensive range priced at $168.000 a bottle. This limited edition is sealed in handmade glass ampoules of which only 12 were made. If you’re more into wine than glass-blowing, the contents of the ampoules, aka. the “regular” 2004 Penfolds Block 42 Kalimna Cab Sav currently sells for between $900 and $1075 across various stores online.
For roughly the same price, you can also choose to buy a Grange from the 90s or early 2000s. The 2010 vintage was actually rated as one of the best Penfolds by the experts. The best price I could find currently on this was “only” $625 a bottle at Cellarit.com.au. Passing the $1000 mark, you’re looking at vintages from the 60s and 70s while a bottle from the 50s could easily cost you $20.000+.
Another eminent winery, Romanée-Conti located in Burgundy, France is known to grow the best red grape wine varieties in the world. Its elegant Pinot Noirs are produced in small quantities but are highly sought after by collectors. The 1978 vintage was sold for $24.000, but early vintages of the 21st century sell for around the $2000 to $3000 mark.
Make sure you do your price comparisons before you buy though, as Dan Murphy’s lists the 2005 vintage Romanée-Conti Richebourg for $3000, while MW Wines is asking $4689 for the exact same wine. The potential saving of roughly 40% or $1700 in this case is nearly incomprehensible.
On an interesting note, several historical characters have had the privilege of owning the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti over the past few centuries, including the prince of Conti (hence the name), the son in law of the French mathematician Monge and one of Napoleon’s generals. This information reminded me of the Pinot Noir section in this article where I previously wrote about wines and their “personalities” for Father’s Day. Reading it might bring a smile to your face.
And as for white wines, lets take a look at the 1787 Sauternes of Château d’Yquem. This two and a half century old dessert wine was sold for $100.000 in 2006, and is currently holding the title for the most expensive white wine. Buying a 19th century vintage would save you roughly 80% off that price, but any Sauternes aged 8 years or more would offer an exquisite drinking experience at a lower cost.
Prices on a good harvest pre-2007 Château d’Yquem’s dessert wine range from between $0.80 to $2.50 per ml and they come in two bottle sizes (375ml or the usual 750ml). This means that you could get away with paying just around $300 for the “half bottle” sized d’Yquem and become a proud owner of a collectible wine.