100 Red Wine Icons: France

100 Red Wine Icons: France 

© Shutterstock

100 Red Wine Icons: France

100 Red Wine Icons: France 

© Shutterstock

France has to take the top spot when it comes to iconic wines. While the wine culture of other countries is as old and as ingrained, it is France’s culture of fine wine that sets it apart – hence the reputational head start – not just by decades but often by centuries.

Latour

Bordeaux 

Latour counts as the most powerful of the three Premier Grands Crus of the Médoc. Under the general direction of Frédéric Engerer, cellar master Hélène Genin crafts uncompromising quality. Recommended recent vintages: 2018, 2016, 2010, 2009, 2005, 2003, 2000, 1996

Lafite-Rothschild 

Bordeaux 

In 1855 Château Lafite was one of the original four Premier Grands Crus of the Médoc. The Rothschild family bought it in 1868. Today it is run by Saskia de Rothschild and technical director Eric Kohler. Recommended recent vintages: 2018, 2016, 2010, 2009, 2005, 2003, 2000, 1996

Mouton-Rothschild 

Bordeaux 

Bought by Nataniel de Rothschild in 1853, his visionary grandson Eric achieved the impossible: the château‘s upgrade to Premier Grand Cru Classé. Artists such as Picasso have created labels. Recommended recent vintages: 2019, 2018, 2016, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005, 2000

Margaux 

Bordeaux 

The wine’s reputation – already famous in the 18th century – precedes that of the château which was not built until 1815. Margaux is seen as the silkiest, most elegant expression of the entire Left Bank. Recommended recent vintages: 2019, 2018, 2016, 2015, 2010, 2009, 2005

The gravelly soils of Bordeaux's subregion Médoc

The gravelly soils of Bordeaux's subregion Médoc

© shutterstock

Haut-Brion

Bordeaux 

This château can look back on a 500-year history. Bought in 1935 by US-banker Clarence Dillon, it is now owned by Prince Robert of Luxembourg who ensures the most exacting standards. Recommended recent vintages: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2016, 2015, 2010, 2009

Cheval Blanc

Bordeaux 

Located on the Right Bank in the appellation of St. Émilion, Cheval Blanc is known for its elegant, Cabernet Franc dominated wines. It is a jewel in the crown of luxury conglomerate LVMH. Recommended recent vintages: 2018, 2016, 2015, 2010, 2009, 2005, 2000, 1998

Angélus

Bordeaux 

This St. Émilion estate was created when Domaine de Mazerat acquired Clos de l’Angélus. Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoa runs it today, daughter of oenologist Hubert de Boüard de Laforest. Recommended recent vintages: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2016, 2015, 2010, 2009, 2005

Pétrus

Bordeaux 

Owned by the Moueix family, this legendary Pomerol estate owes its status to a particular plateau of gravel and iron-rich clay which lends a seductive note of truffle to this Merlot-based wine. Recommended recent vintages: 2020, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2012, 2010, 2009

Lafleur

Bordeaux

Henri Geloud founded this tiny estate just few yards from Château Pétrus. His great-great-grandchildren Sylvie and Jacques Guinaudeau run Lafleur today and farm their vines organically. Recommended recent vintages: 2020, 2018, 2016, 2015, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2005

Vieux-Château-Certan

Bordeaux 

Wine lovers already paid top dollar for VCC, as it is known, in the 19th century. Winemaker Alexandre Thienpont creates a point of difference with a larger proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. Recommended recent vintages: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2010, 2009

Romanée-Conti

Domaine De La Romanée-Conti, Burgundy 

This wine is the epitome of a complete, age-worthy and aristocratic Pinot Noir. The stuff of dreams. Just 5,000 bottles are normally made each year. This veritable cult is sold on strictest allocation. Recommended recent vintages: 2018, 2015, 2012, 2010, 2005, 2002, 1999, 1996

Chambertin

Domaine Leroy, Burgundy 

This domaine, run by the energetic Lalou Bize Leroy, owns half a hectare of the grand cru Chambertin. Farmed biodynamically since 1998, the fewer than 1,000 bottles made each year are like gold dust. Recommended recent vintages: 2018, 2016, 2015, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008

Chambertin

Domaine Armand Rousseau, Burgundy

Éric and Cyrielle Rousseau, the third and fourth generation at the estate respectively, own 2.15 hectares of the grand cru vineyard. Some of the parcels were planted in the 1930s. Recommended recent vintages: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012

Le Musigny

Jacques-Fréderic Mugnier, Burgundy

The grand cru vineyard Musigny is considered the finest, most poetic of all grands crus on the Côte de Nuits. Since taking over in 1985, former petrochemical engineer Frédéric Mugnier has raised it to new heights. Recommended recent vintages: 2019, 2018, 2015, 2013, 2010, 2009, 2005, 2002

Clos de la Roche

Domaine Dujac, Burgundy

This grand cru site brings forth some of the most mineral red Burgundies. Jacques Seysses and his son Jeremy express the vineyard‘s character with the utmost finesse. An address with cult status. Recommended recent vintages: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013, 2012, 2010

Clos des Ducs

Domaine DujacMarquis d'Angerville, Burgundy

Formerly owned by the Dukes of Burgundy, this 2.15 hectare monopole premier cru in the village of Volnay deserves grand cru status. Poor, stony soils result in incredibly fine-booned wines that reveal their true potential over decades.Recommended recent vintages: 2019, 2018, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2010, 2005

Burgundy's Côte de Nuits is one of France's most legendary regions for fine wines.

Burgundy's Côte de Nuits is one of France's most legendary regions for fine wines.

© Mauritius

La Romanée

Domaine Comte Liger-Belair, Burgundy 

This grand cru vineyard measures just 0.85 hectares. The vine age is remarkable, some vines were planted more than 100 years ago. The very poor soils make the wines delicate and scented. Recommended recent vintages: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012

Vigne de L'Enfant Jésus

Bouchard Père et Fils, Burgundy 

Right in the heart of the Grèves vineyard in Beaune, this extraordinary parcel of vines was given to the Carmelite nuns of Beaune in celebration of Anne of Austria giving birth to future King Louis XIV. Recommended recent vintages: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2010, 2009, 2005, 1999

Les Amoureuses

Domaine Georges Roumier, Burgundy

Christophe Roumier has just a few vines in this premier cru vineyard in the village of Chambolle, but they are special. Planted in 1947, they bring forth a wine that does justice to its poetic name. Recommended recent vintages: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012

Au Cros Parantoux

Méo-Camuzet, Burgundy

Next to the the six grands crus owned by this estate, Cros Parantoux takes a special position. This premier cru borders onto grand cru Richebourg in Vosne-Romanée and was made famous by the late Henri Jayer. Recommended recent vintages: 2019, 2018, 2016, 2015, 2012, 2010, 2005

Rayas

Châteauneuf-Du-Pape, Rhône

Château Rayas has been in the hands of the Reynaud family since 1880. What sets this wine apart is that it is made from 100% Grenache, when most other wines of the appellation are blends. Recommended recent vintages: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2009

Hommage à Jacques Perrin

Château Beaucastel, Rhône

The Perrin family owns many estates in the Rhône Valley. This cuvée, first made in 1989, based mostly on Mourvèdre is only made in the best vintages. Recommended recent vintages: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2012, 2010, 2009

Janasse Vieilles Vignes

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône

Janasse makes four red Châteauneuf cuvées called Prestige, Tradition, Chaupin and the flagship Vieilles Vignes, made from 100-year-old vines. Recommended recent vintages: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2012, 2010, 2007, 2000

Clos des Papes

Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône 

The wines from this pioneering estate which started bottling and marketing its own wines as early as 1902, and adopted organic farming early on, are made from old vines with tiny yields. Recommended recent vintages: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007

Clos des Truffiers

Château La Négly, Languedoc

Jean Paux-Roset, together with oenologist Paul Gros, crafts top cuvées L’Ancely, La Porte du Ciel and Clos des Truffiers, the latter from 1962-planted Syrah vines. Recommended recent vintages: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2011, 2010, 2007, 2006

Chave Hermitage

Jean Louis Chave, Rhône

Hermitage is the most famous site for Syrah in the world. The Chave family, tracing its history back to 1481, owns plots there and makes wines with a precision that shows each facet of the vineyard. Recommended recent vintages: 2018, 2017, 2015, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006

Hermitage La Chapelle

Jaboulet, Rhône

Takeover by the Frey family spelled a quality renaissance recalling legendary vintages 1961, 1978 and 1990. The Syrah for this wine is from the Bessards, Le Méal, Greffieux and Rocoules parcels. Recommended recent vintages: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2015 , 2012, 2010, 2009

Côte-Rôtie La Turque

E. Guigal, Rhône

Known as the “La-Las”, the Syrah trio of the parcels La Turque, La Landonne and La Mouline present all the finesse of the Côte-Rôtie vineyard. But which one to choose? All three are stunning. Recommended recent vintages: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2012, 2010, 2009, 2005

L'Ermite

M. Chapoutier, Rhône

Michel Chapoutier loves to provoke but he also is a visionary. He may make a high volume of wines but his top segment shows that he is playing at the very summit of what is possible. Recommended recent vintages: 2005, 2000, 1995, 1990

Le Bourg

Clos Rougeard, Loire 

This tiny parcel of Cabernet Franc vines on pure limestone has been the shining star of this estate and the Loire Valley for decades. A recent ownership change lets collectors hold their breath. Recommended recent vintages: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2010, 2007, 2005, 2003, 1989

100 Red Wine Icons was written by Peter Moser, with contributions from Dr. Ulrich Sautter, Othmar Kiem, Dominik Vombach, Benjamin Herzog and Anne Krebiehl MW.

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