New record for Romanée-Conti

A bottle of 1945 Romanée-Conti was auctioned on Saturday for $558,000, the highest price ever for wine, at a sale organized by Sotheby’s in New York City, which saw two bottles beat the previous record.

The final price, which includes taxes and commissions, was 17 times higher than the $32,000 upper limit of Sotheby’s original estimate. This bottle with its stained label is one of 600 produced in 1945, just before the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti tore up the vines and replanted.

At the same Saturday auction, another bottle of 1945 Romanée-Conti vintage was auctioned for $496,000, establishing the second-highest price ever seen at auction for wine.

The record for a bottle of wine of standard capacity had been $233,000, for an 1869 Château Lafite Rothschild, achieved at a sale in Hong Kong in 2010. Three copies of the same vintage were sold that day, at the same price.

For bottles of all sizes, the record was set in 2007 for a jeroboam (three litres) of 1945 Mouton-Rothschild, sold in New York for $310,700.

Three other bottles of Romanée-Conti, magnums (1.5 litres, or twice the size of a standard bottle) from the 1937 vintage, each reached $310,000 on Saturday.

Earlier, two 1945 vintage lots of La Tâche, which belongs to the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti but which is of a significantly larger size and has a higher average production, were sold for $297,600 and $248,000. However, each lot was of three bottles.

The lots sold on Saturday came from personal collection of Robert Drouhin, who ran the Joseph Drouhin house from 1957 to 2003, one of the most important in Burgundy.

The Joseph Drouhin estate covers 73 hectares, most of it Grand Crus and Premier Crus. Joseph Drouhin was the exclusive distributor of the Romanée-Conti estate for France and Belgium from 1928 to 1964.

In total, the sale brought in $7.32 million per hundred lots, or an average of more than $73,000 per lot.