What are the most expensive wines in the world?

Wine-searcher is one of the most visited wine websites in the world. Maintained by a New Zealand team, it aggregates the largest wine database in the world. This makes it a search engine and a reference price comparator. At the end of 2018, the wine searcher published the ranking of the most expensive estates in the world.

The methodology is twisted but transparent. Each estate referenced on the site by more than 5 wines from at least 4 different vintages, 2 of which are less than 10 years old, is eligible. The ranking then calculates the average price of the different wines referenced from this domain.

What does this ranking tell us?

There is no doubt about it: out of the 50 most expensive wines in the world, 35 are French wines. Among them, 31 are Burgundian: 24 Côtes de Nuit, 7 Côtes de Beaune. It is of course Romanée-Conti which holds the top of the basket. It is represented by 6 wines, including the most expensive in the world: the Grand Cru of the Romanée-Conti estate, which sells for an average of 200,000HKD per bottle. Its highest transaction was nearly 5MHKD!

Bordeaux wines are represented by only 3 wines, including the famous Château Petrus de Pomerol.

Does this mean that Burgundy wines are more sought-after than Bordeaux wines?
In no way! As a proof, I want to refer to the classification of the most sought-after wines published by this same site. Château Petrus is ranked 6th, while the Grand Cru de la Romanée-Conti is only ranked 14th!

If prices are higher in Burgundy than in Bordeaux, it is because of the law of supply and demand.

With an area of less than 30,000 ha, Burgundy is a small vineyard producing 1.5 million hectolitres. That is 4 times less than the Bordeaux vineyard which produces 6 million hectolitres of wine on 120,000 ha. With equal demand, Burgundy's supply is therefore 4 times lower than that of the Bordeaux vineyard, which pulls prices up.

Moreover, while a winery cultivates an average of 12 ha of vines in Bordeaux, it only cultivates 8 ha in Burgundy. The plots themselves are smaller and scattered in Burgundy. This difference explains the extra costs of production which are reflected in the price of the bottle.

What are the most represented wines of the world?

Far behind Burgundy wines, German wines come in second place thanks to 10 wonderful Riesling from Moselle and Rheingau. Including that of Egon Muller Scharzhofberger who takes third place on the podium. We have already praised in these pages the quality of the German Rieslings. It is therefore not a surprise to find them in the spotlight in this classification.

The Moselle is a river that originates in the Vosges. It crosses the Grand Est, Luxembourg, Saarland and the German Palatinate before flowing into the Rhine in Koblenz. The banks of the German part of the river are planted with vines that produce the best Rieslings in the world.

The extremely steep slopes on both sides of the river are a characteristic feature of the Moselle vineyards. This geographical disposition makes the work of the vines difficult and the wines exceptional. Would this explain their particularly high prices?

Further down the ranking, California is represented by only two wines. A Sauvignon Blanc from Oakville and a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Nappa Valley. Portugal and Australia are the only two other countries represented in this ranking.

In other words, many prestigious vineyards such as those of South Africa, New Zealand and Chile are not present in this top 50!

Fortunately, wine-searcher also publishes the ranking of the most expensive wines by country. We thus learn that the most expensive South African wine, an excellent Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch, has an average ceiling of 2500HKD. Chilean wine peaks at 2260HKD, Argentinean wine at 4780HKD. The Spanish wine, a Teso de la Monja de Toro, stands out at 10 000 HKD.

According to wine-searcher, the most prestigious Italian wines trade for around 500€ a bottle. This figure seems low in view of their recognized excellence. Barolo, Barbaresco, Montepulciano. These names resonate like those of mythical wines. All things considered, 500€ for a great Italian wine, it remains low.

Of course, we are aware of the heterogeneity of the quality of Italian wine production. Many family farms, too small, work their vines without much ambition for local production.