French Wine Sold for Record-breaking $558,000 at Sotheby's Auction in New York

A bottle of the 1945 Romanee-Conti fetched $558,000 at a Sotheby's auction in New York. Sotheby's

A bottle of 1945 Romanee-Conti wine was sold for a new record sum of $558,000 at an auction held by Sotheby's in New York on Saturday.

The bottle is one of only 600 produced in 1945 before the vines were pulled up for replanting.

"The best bottles are so concentrated and exotic, with seemingly everlasting power - a wine at peace with itself," Sotheby's said of the wine.

The auction house added that the vintage was "rare and wonderful", despite "heavily damp-stained, scuffed, torn, and partially missing" labels.

One of the world's most illustrious wine producers, Romanee-Conti is widely considered the best Burgundy wine on the market. The domaine, located in the Cote de Nuits, at the northern end of the Cote d'Or region of Burgundy, produces on average between 5,000 and 6,000 bottles per year.

The lot up for auction on Saturday came from the personal collection of Robert Drouhin, who directed wine producer Maison Joseph Drouhin—one of the most prestigious producers in Burgundy—between 1957 and 2003.

Shortly after the Romanee-Conti was sold, another bottle of the same wine and vintage fetched $496,000.

The house's upper estimate for the first bottle of Romanee-Conti was $32,000, meaning once commissions and taxes are included the final price was an eye-watering 17 times bigger than Sotheby's had forecast.

The price smashed the previous record for a standard wine bottle, which had been held for the last eight years by a Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The wine had been sold at an auction in Hong Kong for $233,000 in 2010.

The Romanee-Conti also comfortably beat the record for bottles of all sizes, which stood at $310,000 for a three-litre bottle of 1945 Mouton-Rothschild that was sold in New York in 2007.

While record-breaking in terms of wine, the 1945 Romanee-Conti was far from being the most expensive item sold on Saturday. A bottle of The Macallan 1926 scotch whisky sold for $843,200, the highest price Sotheby's has achieved for a single spirit.

The fee was also the highest for a spirit ever sold in North America, but it fell short of the $1.2 million record set by Bonhams at an auction in Edinburgh earlier this month.

The label on Macallan sold on Saturday was commissioned to English pop artist Sir Peter Blake.

The artist who designed the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album cover was commissioned labels that appeared on 12 different bottles the Scottish distillery produced in 1986, when its production reached only 40 units.

"[Sir Peter's] celebrated commissions for some of the greatest bands of the 20th century, most famously for The Beatles, have transcended their intended purpose to become icons of the age - a perfect pairing to the swinging sixties and to the spirit of the post-war Britain," Oliver Barker, chairman of Sotheby's Europe, was quoted as saying by Sky News.

"With this magnificent label for Macallan's finest vintage, Blake has put his stamp on yet another one of life's great pleasures."