1945 Romanée-Conti

Burgundy Grand Cru ~ $558K single bottle at auction


1945 Romanée-Conti Burgundy Wine

When a private Asian collector bid an eye-popping $558,000 for a single bottle of 1945 Romanée-Conti at Sotheby’s sale this past Saturday in New York, a world record was smashed. This was not just the highest price ever reached for a 750ml bottle of Burgundy, but also the highest for any bottle of wine ever at auction.

Moments later, a second private collector, from the U.S., paid $496,000 for a second bottle of the same wine, and that too broke all previous records, minus the new one that had just been set.

Which begs the question: Why would someone pay half a million dollars for a bottle of wine?

After all, you could buy many cases of superb vino—even stellar Burgundy—for the same price, which amounts to about $100,000 per glass. (The Liv-ex online wine market points out that 133 bottles of 2010 Château Pétrus, a one-bedroom flat in London, and 400 ounces of gold would each set you back the same amount.)

Fabled Vineyard

All the wines from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, in the charming, tranquil town of Vosne-Romanée, are famous, sought-after Burgundies. An entire mystique surrounds the domaine, which is known by the nickname DRC. Farmed biodynamically, its grand cru vineyards are meticulously cared for, the grapes sorted individually.

But of its seven fabled reds and one white, those from the tiny 4.5-acre Romanée-Conti vineyard are absolutely iconic, the epitome of the highest-quality Burgundy. The late food writer Richard Olney once called this plot of land “timeless perfection.” Several years ago an extortionist threatened to poison the vines unless the domaine paid him a €1 million ransom. (He was caught.) The 2015, which I tasted earlier this year, has amazingly complex aromas, long, savory layers of earth and spice flavors, and a silky texture that transfixes your tongue.

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