The most sought-after wine in the world for the past 20 years is Château Lafite-Rothschild (average current vintage list price $933 a bottle), a world-renowned red Bordeaux officially classified as a Premier Cru (First Growth) — the highest rating for wines of the region, shared by only four other producers.
The second most wanted bottling is Lafite’s near-neighbor, Château Mouton-Rothschild ($654), another Premier Cru.
These rankings come from the New Zealand-based website Wine-Searcher, an internationally focused wine search engine and database. Consumers use the site to locate wines at retail outlets around the world, and Wine-Searcher tracks the frequency of search requests to calculate wine popularity.
Eight of the top ten wines on the list come from the Bordeaux region — seven reds and one sweet white — while another one is a Napa Valley wine co-created by the proprietor of Mouton and made to emulate red Bordeaux. The only outlier is a single Champagne — hardly surprising, since Champagne is one of the most popular wine categories (and one of the most expensive foods and drinks).
The top ten is filled out by, in descending order, Château Margaux ($712), Château Pétrus ($3,258), Château Latour ($842), Dom Pérignon Brut Champagne, Château d’Yquem Sauternes, Château Haut-Brion, Château Cheval-Blanc, and Opus One. All are blue-chip bottlings.
Thus far for 2019, Wine-Searcher’s top ten list includes eight of the same ten wines, albeit in slightly different order. Missing are Château Cheval-Blanc and Opus One. Added to the list are Sassicaia ($245), a so-called super-Tuscan from Italy based on cabernet sauvignon (the principle Bordeaux grape) and a red Burgundy, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti (an astonishing $20,241 a bottle).
“The fact is,” writes Wine-Searcher editor Don Kavanagh on the site, “that after 20 years we are still typing the same names into Wine-Searcher’s search bar, and that shows little sign of changing. But at least the presence of Sassicaia offers a glimmer of hope for a more adventurous future.” Those lucky enough to sample one of them won’t need to worry if the wine is good, but in case they do, here are 11 ways to tell if wine is actually really good.