Asia's thirst for fine wine seems to have few limits.
A case of 1978 Romanée-Conti Grand Cru sold for $476,280 on Saturday, setting a record for Romanée-Conti and making it one of the most expensive cases ever sold at auction. That works out to about $39,700 per bottle or about $4,900 per glass.
Christie's said the buyer was from Asia. The sale price was more than three-times the high estimate for the case.
The 1931 edition of The Great Wines Of France describes Romanée-Conti as "one of the greatest wines of the world and the most perfect as well as the most expensive of Burgundy." It goes on to describe a ‘forceful bouquet of violet mixed with a scent of cherry, a lively and profound ruby robe, a suaveness of exceptional finesse.’
The wine has been highly regarded for centuries. In 1780, the Archbishop of Paris declared it "velvet and satin in bottles."
The sale shows that despite a slowdown earlier this year in wine sales to Chinese and Hong Kong buyers, demand for the most prestigious bottles remain strong. Chinese buyers are paying especially high prices for Romanée-Conti, which is regarded as the top status wine brand in China.
In an interview with CNBC on Monday, billionaire Wilbur Ross said that prices for fine art and wine have gotten "a little bit extreme." Asked about the Romanée-Conti sale, he joked: "I don't think I have clothes good enough to wear while I'm drinking $400,000 wine. Just save it."
Christie's sold $9 million worth of wine during the three-day sale, with a total of more than $1.6 million worth of Romanée-Conti during the auction. In addition to the $476,280 case, a second case of 1978 Romanée-Conti sold for $301,644, while a case of 1985 Romanée-Conti sold for $285,000—twice the estimate.
A collection of 105 bottles of Chateau Latour sold for $301,000.
"This auction emphasized the growing demand and importance for premium wines with the finest provenance," said Simon Tam, Christie's head of wine for China.