The 10 Most Expensive Wines in the World

Few things in the world improve in quality and value with age. Aged wine is one of those things, defined by elegance, rarity and finesse. If you are drawn to the thrill of owning something truly one of a kind, this niche market will certainly appeal to you.

We’ve all heard the expression “aging like a fine wine,” so you may not be surprised to learn seven of the 10 most expensive wines in the world are from 1947 or earlier. That includes three bottles that date back to the 18th century. No need to check the “best before” date.

Rank Wine Year Country Price
1 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Grand Cru 1945 France $558,000
2 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992 United States $500,000
3 Jeroboam of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1945 France $310,700
4 Cheval Blanc 1947 France $304,375
5 Château Lafite 1869 France $230,000
6 Château Margaux 1787 France $225,000
7 Ampoule from Penfolds, Block-42 Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Australia $168,000
8 Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1787 France $156,450
9 Henri Jayer, Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux 1999 France $136,955
10 Massandra Sherry de la Frontera 1775 Spain $43,500

France leads the way for luxury wines
What conclusions can we draw from the list? We all already knew that they like their wine in France, so the fact they produce the most expensive wines around won’t come as a huge shock.

Seven of the top ten most expensive wines ever sold hail from France, although special mention must go to the United States’ own Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon, made in Napa Valley in 1992. Only 175 cases were produced at a time when Screaming Eagle Cabernet hadn’t yet established itself as a premium wine producer.

Results are in for London Wine Fair’s “Judgement of London”

London Wine Fair’s Judgement of London took place this week, and the results are now in. 32 wines were tasted over a period of four hours by 21 judges, a selection of the UK’s best palates, two-thirds of which were either Masters of Wine or Master Sommeliers. The wines, all of which were decanted and served in Jancis Robinson X Richard Brendon glasses, were tasted in pairs under exam conditions: eight pairs of white wines, followed by eight pairs of red wines; each pairing comprised a European wine with their Rest of World counterpart, matched in terms of style. The judges scored each wine out of ten, which resulted in a grand total for each wine, and a final overall score for European vs. Rest of World.

The wines, amongst the best in the world, were selected by Sarah Abbott MW, MD of Swirl Wine Group and Ronan Sayburn MS, CEO of The Court of Master Sommeliers, who presented the results on Centre Stage with Hannah Tovey, Head of London Wine Fair earlier today (Tuesday afternoon). The key findings are as follows:

Top scoring white: Pegasus Bay Riesling, Bel Canto, Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand 2011
Runner up: Polish Hill Riesling, Grosset, Clare Valley, Australia 2012
Top scoring red: Hermitage Rouge, Jean Louis Chave, Rhône, France, 2012
Runner up: Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France 2009
Top scoring wine: Pegasus Bay Riesling, Bel Canto, Waipara, North Canterbury, New Zealand 2011
European wines: 2,621.5 points
Rest of World: 2,604.5 points
Overall winner: Europe
Difference: 0.65%

The purpose of Judgement of London was to give a snapshot of the fine wine landscape almost 50 years on from the original Judgement of Paris in 1976. Whilst California was the outright winner of the original Paris tasting, in 2024 –with a broader spectrum of wines to better reflect today’s fine wine scene – the results are almost too close to call, with less than a percentage point between the two “teams”.

Sarah Abbott MW commented: “The results from Judgement of London highlight that great wine can and does come from all corners of the world. Winemakers of these wines share so much in common, and the excitement and gratitude that these wines inspire unites and inspires us as a trade.”

Ronan Sayburn MS commented: “From the beginning, it was never about a winner or loser, and the results show that. 50 years ago, there was a definite difference in style; now it is a much more level playing field. The so-called New World were making wines which were for a cool climate style, but in a warm climate. And obviously they had a lot of success, but were they elegant? Since Judgement of Paris, the so-called New World has better adapted to their climates, clones, and what works well. It is no longer the underdog. All these wines tasted on their own are amongst the greatest in the world, and we were asking our judges to choose amongst them.”

Head of London Wine Fair, Hannah Tovey, commented: “The results could barely have been closer, and whilst that all points towards the equal footing of European and Rest of World wines in today’s fine wine market, it is also testament to the pairings selected by Ronan and Sarah. They were bang on in terms of matching. I would like to personally thank everyone involved in what was frankly a Herculean task; sourcing 32 of the world’s finest wines; Ronan and Sarah for their brilliant selections and management; and last but by no means least, the judges themselves, and their extraordinary palates.”

The full list of wines: https://shorturl.at/biZTy

The Winners of the “Star Wine List” Announced

Star Wine List of the Year is the celebration of the great wine lists in the world and the teams behind them. The prize was awarded in ten categories, and the winners in each category got a Gold Star and qualified for the international final which will be held in June.

The International Open was held as an online event on May 6. Of the countries in the finals, both Australia and the Netherlands had the most representatives, with 20 restaurants/bars each. USA had 13 and Canada 10 venues shortlisted.

The jury for the Star Wine List of the Year International Open 2024 includes four international wine experts:

Pascaline Lepeltier
Piotr Pietras MS
Heidi Mäkinen MW
Doug Frost MW MS

“The judging process was quite a challenge and scores were really tight in most categories. The level of wine lists was high and I was impressed by their complexity, depth and a clever, creative touch,” said jury panel member Piotr Pietras MS about judging the International Open.

His fellow jury member Pascaline Lepeltier said:

“How exciting it is to see so many compelling lists from restaurants I have never heard of: it is impressive to see how so many sommeliers all around the world are creating curated beverage programs, with wit and intelligence, sometimes in areas where access to wine is complicated. I salute all their passion and hard work, and I am glad Star Wine List decided to showcase them!”

Doug Frost, both Master Sommelier and Master of Wine, joined the online celebration on May 6.

“I have looked at a lot of wine lists, and judged them, over the years. This time it was both really difficult and interesting. And it was exciting to look at so many different lists, and I learned a lot from it too. And it’s obvious that the people who sent us these lists have worked really, really hard,” he said.

Here are all the Gold Star winners:

The best list overall
[Gold Star]
De Nieuwe Winkel, Nijmegen, Netherlands

“Wow, this is crazy. I’m overwhelmed, thank you so much. I don’t know what to say, I feel very very honoured,” said Gauthier Cauwels from De Nieuwe Winkel.

“This award is not only about a list, but also how a wine selection is coherent with the whole philosophy of a restaurant. De Nieuwe Winkel is showing us what the gastronomy of tomorrow will probably be, ancred but how so diverse, and dedicated to be a local actor while responsibly offering some of the most thoughtful and delicious wines, at a fair price. Congrats!” said jury member Pascaline Lepeltier.

Best Long List
For wine lists with more than 600 references.
[Gold Star]
Restaurant Le Coureur des Bois, Beloeil, Canada

“Thank you. We are so very happy, this feels amazing. It’s a big work for every member on the team to maintain the list. It’s a tough job to keep the list year after year. The verticals and the classics, as well as the newcomers and the up-and-coming wines. My role is quite difficult, but I’m so happy for the team I work with,” said head sommelier Jean-Simon Rioux-Ranger at the event.

“A beautiful, complex list showcasing both classic and new-wave producers. The list thoroughly covers not only well-known appellations, but it also includes hidden gems and up-and-coming regions. Impressive verticals from numerous wineries are an added value,” said jury member Piotr Pietras.

Best Medium-Sized List
Recognizes the best wine list with 200-600 references.
[Gold Star]
MotherVine, Adelaide, Australia

“Thank you so much, it’s a great honour. I really didn’t expect this. Our list holds all the types of wines that we love to drink ourselves, but we also want to have wines for every kinds of tastes. Our name speaks of a clone, but we also have a love for Burgundy, which I think is reflected in the list,” said Mathieu Smeysters, sommelier and co-owner.

“This wine list highlights both national and international wines from exciting producers and manages to make the selection very diverse. The balance between different producer styles is successful and the offering is delightful throughout all pages,” said jury member Heidi Mäkinen MW.

Best Short List
Recognizes the best wine list with fewer than 200 listings.
[Gold Star]
De Nieuwe Winkel, Nijmegen, Netherlands

“Thank you, I feel very happy and honoured for the recognition. We try to do things differently, only cook plant-based for example. And our wine list is a reflection of that. We also have a beer sommelier, with an amazing list, and botanical cocktails. I want to send a big thank you to our owners who let me keep building this list, and thank you to all my colleagues,” said Gauthier Cauwels from De Nieuwe Winkel.

“Frankly, it’s easy (if expensive) to write a great wine list when you have several thousand selections. I’ve always believed that the truest mark of smarts is the ability to write a well-rounded and complete short wine list. Winkel has provided a list for every gustatory and financial appetite. Sure, there’s a focus upon cooler sites and Bordeaux is under-represented, but there are so many other wonderful options that it just doesn’t matter,” said jury member Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine.

Best Sparkling Wine List
Recognizes the best list with sparkling wines
This category is presented by Nyetimber
[Gold Star]
Ristorante del Lago, Bagno di Romagna, Italy

“We saw many wine lists with amazing Champagne selections; this one didn’t necessarily stand out for that but, rather, its crazy, nearly encyclopedic list of Italian bubblies. Okay, the Champagne list was great too,” said Doug Frost.

Best By the Glass List
Recognizes the best by the glass list.
[Gold Star]
Ten Minutes by Tractor, Main Ridge, Australia

“Thank you so much. I can only thank the wine team and the chefs, as well as our owners. Of course, people come to our restaurant to enjoy our own wines, but we want people to be able to enjoy a full restaurant experience, and enjoy other fantastic wines apart from ours,” said Kyle Barton from Ten Minutes by Tractor.

“Anyone entering this venue will be delighted by the offering by the glass, as it allows delving deep into different wine styles from around the world. Each choice, whether local or from further afield, is chosen carefully, so it would be a real struggle to choose what not to drink!” said jury member Heidi Mäkinen.

Best Newcomer List
Recognizes a venue that recently opened
[Gold Star]
Enoteca Boccaccio, Melbourne, Australia

“Thank you so much, such a great honour for us. Enoteca Boccaccio has been a dream project for my bosses, the d’Anna family. We’ve been open a little less than a year, and it has been such a lovely journey to build this list,” said wine director Elena Leardini.

“They may be newcomers but they offer a fantasy of some of the sexiest names in wine: Selosse, Krug, Raveneau, J.J. Prüm, Emidio Pepe, Rinaldi, and Borgogno, all with remarkable vertical selections. The largest of all the verticals? One of the greatest values in Italian wine: Produttori del Barbaresco,” said jury member Doug Frost.

Sustainable Wine List
For the Sustainable Wine List category, not only the wine list is evaluated, but also the stated actions of the venue, as described through a questionnaire in the application.
[Gold Star]
Esters Wine Shop & Bar, Santa Monica, USA

“It is always so inspiring to see more and more places looking for solutions to make a restaurant a more sustainable place, especially when it goes beyond just the selection of committed farmers and winemakers. This is what set Esters apart; actions and support not only to education and promotion of sustainable farming, but an involvement in the local community to help the needed environmental and social changes to happen,” said the jury’s Pascaline Lepeltier.

Here is the link to the winners:
starwinelist.com/wine-story/the-winners-in-our-international-open-with-competing-wine-lists-from-19-countries

French company Zephalto is offering luxury wine tasting in space

French company Zephalto is offering passengers the chance to travel to the stratosphere in a balloon, starting at €120,000 /$132,000 per person in 2025.

Beyond organizing a panoramic viewing experience, Zephalto is also bringing in French luxury and the ‘art de vivre’ with a pre-flight gourmet meal prepared by famous French chefs, followed by a unique wine-tasting experience.

The wine tasting will take place in the Celeste, a metallic-like “spaceship” made from composite fibres to ensure its lightweight and exceptional strength. Its luxurious interior is said to be designed by Parisian interior designer Joseph Dirand.

Zephalto plans to launch the balloon from France on a six-hour experience that will include three hours at its highest altitude — above 98 percent of the atmosphere and twice as high as the average commercial jet. According to The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the boundary of space is at 62 miles altitude, over four times higher than Celeste’s final ascent.

The ship will sit beneath a vast helium balloon “the size of the Sacré Coeur in Paris”, which will push the ship into the stratosphere. The experience will last six hours and will hold two pilots and just six guests.

Because the Celeste will not reach this space boundary, it will not leave the Earth’s atmosphere, meaning passengers will not experience weightlessness. This will make the experience open to anyone without specialist training.

Passengers will be presented with a pre-flight gourmet meal, which the company claims will be provided by a team of famous French chefs, and will then receive a unique guided wine tasting, featuring carefully selected French vintages.

Zephalto representative states: “From regions to grape varieties, discover France from sky and land.”

Pre-reservations for their first year of operation are open with 60 flights planned.

Reserve your seat for this unique experience: https://book.zephalto.com/

 

 

The Magical flavors of the Dolomites – Fine Dining by Michele Shah [Part l]

Alta Badia lies in the heart of the mountainous chain of the Dolomites, which the famous architect Le Corbusier declared to be “the most beautiful work of architecture in the world.” The Fanes-Senes-Braies Natural Park and the Puez-Odle Natural Park, both of which are situated in Alta Badia, are part of the Dolomites and easily reachable from Venice or Milan

A UNESCO World Heritage site since 2009, the Dolomites is comprised of a mountain range of 18 peaks that rises above 3,000 meters, featuring breathtaking vertical walls, sheer cliffs and a high density of narrow, deep and long valleys.

The Dolomites is famous for skiing, but not only!  Its picturesque towns and villages such as San Cassiano, Corvara and Colfosco situated close to its mountain peaks, or cradled in its many valleys traversing Alta Badia, Val Gardena, Arabba and Val di Fassa make the Dolomites an ideal place to plan a holiday winter, spring or summer.

What really makes this area special, in addition to breathtaking scenery, is its excellence in hospitality and fine dining – indulging and satisfying the senses at high altitude is what they do best in Alta Badia.  The Dolomites offer an amazing experience be it in winter for winter sports or summer for the sunny breezy days and cool evenings which allows one to trek, mountain climb, bike or walk in the Dolomites or just visit the small villages and enjoy the wonderful light, intense green landscape, bight skies, and sunshine.

The cooking of Alto Adige derives from distinct heritages, one Italo-Venetian, the other Austro-Tyrolean, but the intermingling of peoples drawing on shared resources along the Adige Valley has taken the sharp edges off the contrasts. Something akin to a regional style of cooking has emerged combining the best of Alpine and Mediterranean cuisine and this is what emerges from the top dining locations in the charming resorts of Alta Badia where you can find the highest peaks.

Nestled at the foot of the mountains is the charming village of San Cassiano which houses one of Italy’s top *** Michelin-starred restaurants’, St Hubertus*** awarded with a green star in the Michelin Guide.  St Hubertus is part of the Rosa Alpina – An Aman Partner Hotel in San Cassiano.  One of the historic hotels of the area which has years of experience in making one’s stay one of the most eclectic experiences.

Chef Norbert Niederkofler is the creative spirit of St Hubertus, which offers a fine dining experience of pairing signature dishes of Chef Niederkofler to top fine wines from around the globe as well as hidden local gems, a wine list that counts some 2.600 labels and a well-stocked cellar with 20,000 bottles selected by wine director Lukas Gerges.  The wines of the area from Trentino and Alto Adige offer some wonderful unique grape varieties, with whites characterized by stony, mineral freshness and bold and fruity red brambly wines.  There is also a terrific sparkling range to discover as well.

The Pizzinini family has run the Rosa Alpina Hotel for three generations. Hugo, the current owner, can be found at any moment helping to pack a breakfast hamper for a romantic trek or discussing where to find the finest ski slopes for powder snow and five minutes later, looking for one of Rosa Alpina’s best Champagnes to chill for a favored guest’s lunchtime arrival.  Their big news is that they are about to undergo a total face-lift, a complete restyling of the hotel to offer real Luxury accommodation with large 45sq meter and 75sq meter rooms as well as suits and full apartments.  No doubt this will be a move away from a traditional style to a re-vamped luxury style maintaining the same thumbprint of exquisite taste, comfort and charm which is what they are known for. The official opening will be in December 2024.

Talking of exciting cutting-edge dining experiences, the Cocun Cellar Restaurant run by Jan Clemens Wiser and his all under-30 staff is noteworthy.  The dining experience is located in the (large meandering) wine cellar of Ciasa Salares Hotel, which stands just outside San Cassiano.  Jan Clemens has personally selected 2,000 labels/19,000 bottles from some of the funkiest, biodynamic, and natural producers of Europe, many labels of course come from local producers in the area, as does the fresh seasonal produce that can be found in the equally creative menu.  Surrounded and sitting between rows of bottles you dine on massive wooden tables tastefully set out in separated areas sectioned off by shelves of wines.  This sets the atmosphere and pace, inviting you to explore further this fantastic selection and world of wines, many of which are offered by the glass.

Before leaving the dining, a must is to drive a few kilometers down the valley to Corvara, to visit Hotel La Perla’s hidden jewel, which lies underground in its cellar, a real mausoleum dedicated to Tuscany’s Tenuta’ San Guido’s eclectic wine, Sassicaia.  A visit to the cellar is a truly unique experience and takes one to the temple of Sassicaia comprising some 2,000 bottles of its different vintages, in fact, an entire room dedicated to every single vintage from start to date of Sassicaia, one of Italy’s benchmark wines of excellence.

La Stüa de Michil’s fine dining historic restaurant at la Perla’s exclusive hotel in Corvara is another experience that is not to be missed.  Chef Simone Cantafio’s has recently been awarded his first well-deserved Michelin star for his exquisitely prepared dishes.  The atmosphere in this authentic old ‘stube’ made up of many small dining rooms is really something special and symbolic also of the local Ladino culture.

With so much fine dining it’s a good thing that the Dolomites and the area of Alta Badia offers so many paths for hiking, walking, and bike trails, just so that one can justify all the good meals and wines.  The good news is that if you are hiking or biking, there are plenty of great restaurants at altitude where you can stop for a simple meal and refreshments to a full gourmet meal.  Just to mention a few, Club Moritzino restaurant and bar at 2,000 metres, open in summer and winter offering some of the best and freshest fish which is flown in daily from Chioggia near Venice.  Its tantalizing menu of fine fish dishes includes fresh lobster, prawns and oysters, as well as pan-fried bream, seabass, John Dory, Turbot and much more exquisite fish.

Another favorite is Rifugio Ütia de Bioch Hut in the midst of the slopes, also at around 2,000m which not only offers excellent views but also fine authentic Ladino dishes with a modern twist, accompanied by a wide selection from some of Alto Adige’s top wines.   There are many more great places but I’ll let you discover these as there is always something new to discover in the Dolomites.

Alta Badia has some of the world’s top ski instructors and experienced mountain guides eager to guide you around the beautiful scenic slops. In winter one can ski, or join snow walking excursions, in summer there is real mountain climbing at altitudes and gradients as well as gentle walks in the pine forests.  The Dolomites is famous for the ski excursion of the four passes, which takes one into the Val Gardena and over some spectacular mountain scenery.  Its extensive area of slopes which are all inter-connected allows for some of the best skiing in the world.

The Dolomites is famous for Sellaronda ski excursion of the four passes, which you can reach from San Cassiano, Corvara and Colfosco traversing four Ladino valleys Alta Badia, Val Gardena, Arabba and Val di Fassa, over some spectacular mountain scenery.  Alta Badia’s extensive area of slopes which are all inter-connected with the Super Ski Dolomiti pass includes 450 lifts and 1200 slopes, which makes it easy to ski over to Cortina or Corvara or to the Marmolada glacier, one of the highest peaks, which reaches some 3350 metres.  Views from here as from many other heights are amazing and this is what makes the Dolomites stand out above so many other ski destinations.  The higher you go the longer the slopes, so don’t miss the Marmolada glacier and the 12km descent to Malga Chapela.

Ski Dolomites https://www.skidolomites.it/ offers single and class lessons and has also been awarded the GOLD seal certification for ski school for children.

The Gourmet Ski-safari takes place on the slopes and allows you to share a culinary experience with star chefs of Alta Badia presenting their favorite dishes paired with some of the best South Tyrol wines (Alto Adige Trentino appellations) wines.  This event celebrates the official start of the culinary winter season on the slopes and is where you can meet Michelin-starred chefs creating unique dishes, prepared with seasonal, top-quality products – a hallmark of the region. It’s called a ski-safari because you ski from one mountain hut to another, trying each chef’s creations.

It’s quite unique and great fun to join the Wine Ski-safari which offers a similar expedition on skis across the valleys skiing for mountain hut/restaurant to hut enjoying the region’s multitude of wines. It’s a unique experience to taste some of Alto Adige’s best white, red and sparkling wines at an altitude of 2,000 meters.

For more information on the dolomites where to stay where to eat you can explore this very useful website: https://www.skidolomites.it/en/ski-school-lessons-alta-badia.htm

For ski school and ski lessons and excursions contact: https://www.altabadia.org/en/winter-holidays/italian-alps/ski-resort-alta-badia.html

lavilla@skidolomites.it  Tel +39 0471844018

sancassiano@skidolomites.it  Tel +39 0471840011

armentarola@skidolomites.it Tel +39 0471840001

 

Restaurant St Hubertus (3-star Michelin)
Rosa Alpina – An Aman Partner Hotel
San Cassiano in Badia – (Bolzano)

www.rosalpina.it
www.st-hubertus.it

Wellness Residence Ciasa Antersies
(excellent self-catering apartments in San Cassiano with great views)
Via Soplá, 12
I-39030 San Cassiano in Badia (BZ)

info@ciasaantersies.it
www.ciasaantersies.it


Cocun Cellar Restaurant
Hotel Ciasa Solares
San Cassiano in Badia – (Bolzano)

https://www.ciasasalares.it/en/restaurants/cocun-cellar-restaurant


La Stüa de Michil
Strada Col Alt, 105,
Corvara in Badia – (Bolzano)

https://www.laperlacorvara.it/it/la-stua-de-michil/
www.hotel-laperla.it

Club Moritzino – Café Restaurant Terasse
Piz La Ila

www.moritzino.it

Rifugio Ütia de Bioch Hut
Top of chairlift „Biok“

www.bioch.it

30 minutes from Piz Sorega
50 Minutes from Piz La Ila, or Col Alt, or chairlift Pralongiá I


Snow walking excursions in the Dolomites

SCUOLA SCI DA FONDO ALTA BADIA San Cassiano  www.scuolafondo.it

Ski & Snowboard in the Dolomites – E-Mail: info@skidolomites.it – Web: www.skidolomites.it

Alta Badia –website offers excellent info in the area: www.altabadia.org/en/alta-badia-italian-alps-dolomites.html

Part ll to follow… Wine in Trentino Alto Adige, a taste of the Dolomites
– by Michele Shah