Why do people pay such ridiculous prices for bottles of alcoholic grape juice? Sometimes the price is jacked up by gimmicky packaging, like the precious gems on the bottle of Piper Heidsieck’s Rare Le Secret Fine Jewellery Edition Champagne. Sometimes a wine’s price takes off when some quirk of the marketplace creates an unexpected demand for it, as happened with the perfectly respectable but hardly earth-shattering Hilario Garcia AurumRed Gold from Spain.
Most commonly, though, it’s simply a question of rarity. When a vintner stops producing a prestigious bottling or a winery releases only an extremely limited quantity of something perceived to be very special, collectors compete to obtain the rare existing examples, driving up the price. Savvy winemakers, of course, capitalize on the demand. (If you think these wine prices are outrageous, however, you won’t believe how much the world’s most expensive scotch is.)
In determining which wines have been the most expensive since 2010, Wine-Searcher sometimes considered a specific vintage, especially if it was one-of-a-kind, but in other cases tracked the wine across all the decade’s vintages to arrive at an average price. Note that this is not the same as the current bottle price, which will almost always be higher. It should be noted, too, that a few of the examples here are super-sized bottles, not the standard 750 ml kind.
The selection includes three Champagnes, two Burgundies, two California wines (from the same producer), and one each from Portugal, Spain, and Australia. All are probably wonderful examples of the winemaker’s art, though most of us will never know.