Last January, we presented our list of top-20 best-selling wines from 2020. The response was so enthusiastic that we decided to tally up the top-sellers for this past year as well. And again, our list isn’t just a compilation of critics’ choices, but rather our customers’ preferences and favorite wines — in other words, your selections!
We still have stock for these choice vintages and prices reflect wine values in 2021. That’s the good news.
The not-so-good news is that these wines (and French wine in general) will be less available in the coming months due to the the extensive frost this past Spring in France. From Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy and Languedoc, the losses were devastating — with estimates totaling €2 billion. French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie described the frosts as “one of the greatest agricultural catastrophes thus far in the 21st century.”
Our advice is to stock up now. Not only will wines become harder to source, but prices will increase concurrently. To order these products, write firstname.lastname@example.org or call 850-687-1370. Linked products can be purchased directly online.
Coming in at #1 is 2016 Château Léoville Poyferré. DC-98 JD-98 $109.99. 36 bottles.
One of the most beguiling wines of Saint-Julien, Léoville Poyferré was purchased by the Cuvelier family in 1920. Beginning in 1979, Didier Cuvelier worked to upgrade the property, replanting over 20 hectares of vines. In 2014, he constructed new cellars with stainless steel, double skin vats, allowing for parcel by parcel vinification. Currently, Sara Lecompte Cuvelier, Didier Cuvelier’s cousin, oversees the estate.
Ratings for recent vintages of Léoville-Poyferré have been stellar. Wine critic Neal Martin writes that the property continues to “build on the success of recent offerings…with very suave and sophisticated wines that will give 30–40 years of drinking pleasure.”
Additional vintages of Château Léoville Poyferré available:
2003. RP-96. $174.99. 12 bottles
2005. NM-95. $161.99. 24 bottles
2006. WE-93. $117.99. 24 bottles
2009. RP-100 JD-100. $248.99. 12 bottles
2010. JD-99 RP-98+ $184.99. 24 bottles
2011. RP-94. $92.99. 12 bottles
2012. WE 94-96. $92.99. 12 bottles
2014. AG-95. $83.99. 24 bottles
2015. JD-97. $102.99. 24 bottles
2016. DC-98 JD-98. $109.99. 24 bottles
2018. JD-100 Wine Spectator #7 Wine of the Year. $124.99. 12 bottles
#2 2018 Château Tour Saint-Christophe. JS-97. $34.99. 48 bottles
Billionaire investor Peter Kwok’s Right Bank estates get better with each vintage. “The 2018 Tour Saint-Christophe represents a new level of elegance, precision and finesse for this property in Saint-Émilion’s Saint-Christophe-des-Bardes district. Silky and exceptionally polished…” (Antonio Galloni)
Also available from Château Tour Saint-Christophe:
2017. JD-95. 48 bottles. $34.99
#3 2016 Château Poesia. JD-96. $39.99. 57 bottles.
Wine critic Jeb Dunnuck calls the 2016 Poesia “another incredibly classy Saint Émilion from the Garcin-Lévêque family.” We couldn’t agree more.
#4 2015 Domaine de Chevalier Rouge. AG-97 JS-97. $82.99. 24 bottles
Vinous head critic Antonio Galloni said of Domaine de Chevalier: “Olivier Bernard owns one of the crown jewels of Bordeaux, as these wines clearly make evident.” Bernard, who has almost doubled the size of the estate by purchasing adjacent land, now has 65 hectares under vine. He has also overseen the construction of a new winery and vat room. All these renovations have dramatically improved the stature and reputation of Domaine Chevalier.
#5 2019 Domaine Henri Boillot Volnay 1er Cru “Les Fremiets” $89.99. 26 bottles.
Henri Boillot’s son, Guillaume Boillot, has been in charge of the Domaine’s Pinot Noir for several years now. Having been schooled under Henri, he is, of course, a skilled winemaker. Like his father, Guillaume is dedicated to expressing the terroir, and to fashioning extraordinarily silky wines with elegance and — invoking the favorite Boillot adjective — “précision.” The two are a remarkable team!
#6 2018 Château Les Gravières. $24.99. 60 bottles.
Our sleeper hit of the year! A BIG hedonistic wine with a very small price. Château Les Gravières is a Saint-Emilion Grand Cru in Saint-Suplice de Faleyrens. The estate has been family owned since it was first created at the end of the 19th Century. Denis Barraud took over the estate in 1971 from his grandfather, Pierre-Henri Descrambe, who passed on his love for the vine to Denis. Vineyards consist of 40+ year-old vines planted in clay and gravel.
#7 2018 Domaine Comtes Lafon Meursault “Clos de la Baronne” $138.99. 12 bottles.
Domaine des Comtes Lafon has been in the Lafon family since 1865. Dominique Lafon took over the Domaine in 1983. It is comprised of approximately 14 hectares situated in the communes of Volnay, Monthélie, Chassagne-Montrachet, and of course, Meursault, where the domaine and its monopole vineyard Clos de la Barre are located.
All of his vineyards are cultivated biodynamically and he is proud to own parcels in every Premier Cru in Meursault. As part of the fourth generation of winemakers in the Lafon family, Dominique and his wines are superstars not only in Burgundy but throughout the world.
Also available from Domaine Comtes Lafon:
2018 Meursault 1er Cru “Porusots” $368.99. 6 bottles
#8 2019 Les Hauts de Smith Blanc. $36.99. 48 bottles.
When entrepreneurial power couple Florence and Daniel Cathiard purchased Château Smith Haut Lafitte in 1990, the property had essentially been abandoned — the Château had holes in the roof and the vineyards were doused with chemicals. The Cathiards invested heavily: renovating vineyards and winery, implementing state-of-the-art bio-provision, using natural grass, organic compost and horses for plowing.
To celebrate each vintage, the couple commissions a piece of sculpture for the estate. ‘Some of the pieces are very small if the vintage is not so excellent,’ says Florence. ‘In other years, they’re huge.’ Needless to say, the 100-point ratings in recent years have inspired a number of enormous sculptures!
One of the Cathiards’ great successes are the white wines of Smith Haut Lafitte. Although grown on only 11 hectares, the rich yellow-fruit aroma, mineral backbone and great length of these wines have been recognized as among Pessac-Léognan’s finest.
Also available from Château Smith Haut Lafitte:
2009. RP-100. $299.99. 6 bottles
2010. RP-98+. $169.99. 6 bottles
2013. JS 91-94. $87.99. 48 bottles
2014. JS-96. $89.99. 45 bottles
2018. JD-99. $129.99. 24 bottles
2018 Le Petit Haut Lafitte Rouge. $34.99. 24 bottles
#9 2015 Château d’Issan. JS-96. $79.99. 20 bottles.
It’s hard to imagine a more romantic spot in Bordeaux. Swans glide along the castle moat; a working drawbridge leads to an elegant courtyard. As one of the oldest wine-producing properties in the region, Issan is famous for providing the wine used at the royal wedding between Eleanor of Aquitaine and England’s Henry II of England. Fastforward to modern times, the estate is currently managed by winemaker Emmanuel Cruse along with Jacky Lorenzetti, owner of Paris rugby club Racing Métro 92.
“The 2015 Château d’Issan is a total knock-out. Spectacularly ripe and intense, the 2015 exudes richness in all of its dimensions. Super-ripe dark plum, lavender, spice, savory herbs, iron, smoke and new leather add myriad shades of nuance to this super-ripe, decidedly hedonistic Margaux.” (Antonio Galloni)
#10 2015 Château Clinet. JS-99. $134.99. 45 bottles.
A perennial favorite, Château Clinet remains a consistent top-seller. Owners Ronan Laborde and Monique Bailly produce “elegant, powerful and accomplished wines with finely-knitted tannins and dark fruit..something really special and long-lasting. (Jane Anson) The 2015 vintage provides a “sensuous medium-bodied style…finishing long with an arresting spice and floral perfume. A real stunner!” (Lisa Perrotti-Brown)
#11 2019 Louis Michel Chablis Grand Cru “Grenouilles” $79.99. 6 bottles
In case you doubted…we sample (and drink) a lot of wine. One of the producers we enjoy the most is Louis Michel. The Michel family has been making wines in the heart of Chablis since the 19th century. The current estate manager, Guillaume Michel, is a superb winemaker with tremendous respect for the terroir and Chablis traditions.
The Grenouilles appellation is legendary and rare — one of the smallest Grand Crus in Chablis. When the French Presidents host state dinners at the Élysée Palace, a Grenouilles is almost always on the menu. The Louis Michel parcel is located in the upper reaches of the appellation’s hillside. The best of the best! With a price even regular citizens can afford.
#12 2015 Château Lynch-Bages. WE-96. $149.99. 48 bottles.
Established in 1728, Lynch-Bages has a long, long history in Bordeaux. Recently, this historical property received a massive upgrade and modernization headed by noted architects Chien Chung Pei and Li Chung Pei, the sons of I.M. Pei, famous for designing the glass pyramid of the Musée du Louvre. The project includes a new reception center, gravity-flow wine cellar and vat rooms. The renovated cellars will feature a glass roof and terraces with 360-degree views.
#13 2012 Le Chêne Bleu “Cuvée Héloïse” JD-96. $77.99. 6 bottles
In 1990, Xavier Rolet former head of the London Stock Exchange, and his wife, Nicole, purchased a remote, forgotten vineyard on a derelict medieval priory in the southern Rhône. Enamored with the potential of the site, their aim was to develop a dynamic, innovative and thoroughly modern winery that also remained faithful to its unique natural environment and terroir, at the heart of the UNESCO biosphere of Mount Ventoux — a region which boasts 1,200 species of butterflies alone!
As a tribute to the estate’s medieval past, they named their wines Abélard and Héloïse, after the 12th century thinkers-turned-lovers, France’s Romeo and Juliet. And, the Syrah-Grenache wines are just as inspired as their namesakes. The 2012 Cuvée Héloïse is “medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated, yet with an incredible sense of elegance and finesse, no doubt imparted by the limestone soils and higher elevations. This beautiful Syrah will continue drinking beautifully for another decade or more.” (Jeb Dunnuck)
Also available from Le Chêne Bleu:
2016 Aliot Blanc, Vaucluse. $48.99. 6 bottles
#14 2019 Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne-Montrachet. $64.99. 12 bottles
The name “Niellon” is one of the most established in Burgundy. Michel joined his father Marcel in the 1950s and the two soon built a reputation as one of Chassagne’s finest domaines, growing their estate from the original 4 hectares to today’s 7.5 hectare holdings. These days, the wines are made by Michel’s son-in-law, Michel Coutoux, who continues to uphold the domaine’s reputation for the highest quality. No herbicides are used, plowing is carried out to control weeds and a “lutte raisonnée” (practical approach) to combat mildew and other vineyard maladies.
Also available from Domaine Michel Niellon
2017 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru “Clos de la Maltroie” $118.99. 6 bottles.
#15 Le Pauillac de Château Latour. JS-94. $95.99. 18 bottles
This third wine for First Growth estate Château Latour is “dark and ample in the glass, Latour’s Pauillac possesses tremendous breed right out of the gate. Black cherry, graphite, licorice, spice and leather all meld together in the glass. Floral overtones develop nicely with time. Only the (relatively) lighter structure suggests the Pauillac’s place in the château’s hierarchy. Everything else is first class all the way. The Pauillac is a blend taken from parcels outside the core holdings in the famed enclos, plus younger vines in the enclos.” (Neal Martin)
#16 2019 Domaine Leflaive Mâcon-Verzé “Les Chênes” $64.99. 6 bottles.
Among the many iconic properties in Burgundy, Domaine Leflaive lays claim to some of the most precious terroir — Grand Cru vineyards like Bâtard-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet and Le Montrachet. The domaine also encompasses Premier Cru vineyards like Les Pucelles and Le Clavoillon in Puligny-Montrachet. Almost 20 years ago, the estate moved into biodynamic cultivation under legendary owner, Anne-Claude Leflaive. Her vision and dedication made Domaine Leflaive one of the most prestigious white wine producers in the Côte de Beaune.
#17 2016 Château Montrose. JD-100. $214.99. 11 bottles
Montrose has been producing great wine for centuries. Any number of investors have coveted the property, but telecom and construction industrialists Martin & Olivier Bouygues, managed to acquire the estate in 2006. The brothers invested an additional $65 million in renovations which included highly sophisticated geothermal systems, making Montrose one of the most energy-efficient properties in the Médoc. In 2010, the Bouygues also purchased a 49-acre parcel from Château Phélan-Ségur to extend the estate.
The 100-point 2016 Montrose is “unquestionably one of the top 2-3 wines of the vintage, the 2016 Château Montrose is a monument in the making… With a powerful, full-bodied style on the palate, a huge mid-palate, lots of underlying structure and tannic grip, and perfect balance, this magical wine will keep for 40-50 years.” (Jeb Dunnuck)
Also available from Château Montrose:
2005. NM-97. $209.99. 6 bottles
2010. RP-100. (This vintage is one of our personal favorites!) $264.99. 11 bottles
2012. WE-95. $99.99. 12 bottles
2015. JS-98. $148.99. 18 bottles
2015 La Dame de Montrose. JS-94. $49.99. 26 bottles
#18 2019 Château Sainte Marguerite Cru Classé Rosé. $17.99. 72 bottles.
In a world full of Rosé, Château Sainte Marguerite is a true standout. The estate is distinguished as a Cru Classé — rare for Rosés, which are usually blended from numerous vineyards across Provence. The Sainte Marguerite vineyard is worked entirely in organic farming and has received the “Ecocert Certification.”
The ancient Côtes de Provence plots of Sainte Marguerite have been cultivated since the Roman era. The estate itself was established in 1929 and consists of 75 hectares situated on the coast of La Londe-Les Maures. The vineyards benefit from exceptional climatic and geologic conditions. “This deliciously fruity blend of Cinsault and Grenache is packed with raspberry and red-currant flavors. The concentrated texture gives the wine richness as well as intensity. It is ripe, juicy and ready to drink.” (Wine Enthusiast)
#19 2019 Domaine Henri Gouges Bourgogne Pinot Blanc. $40.99. 21 bottles.
We met Gregory Gouges, owner-winemaker at Domaine Henri Gouges, two years ago — and we’re still talking about that visit! The property is particularly known for its cultivation of White Pinot Noir. Henri Gouges, Gregory’s grandfather, propagated a vine with all white clusters post-veraison. Gregory continues to produce brilliant wines in the style and manner of his Great Grandfather and to cultivate the White Pinot Noir — now known as “Pinot Gouges” — in La Perrière as well as in the Premier Cru vineyard and Gouges monopole of Clos de Porrets-Saint-Georges.
Also available from Domaine Henri Gouges:
2017 Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Les Saint Georges” $182.99. 5 bottles
#20 Maison Louis Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Clos St. Jacques. JS-97. $188.99. 18 bottles.
Maison Louis Jadot is one of the most trusted and revered wine houses in Burgundy’s Côte d’Or. Frédéric Barnier, Jadot’s esteemed winemaker, and his team balance tradition and technology, focusing on the purest expression of each wine’s terroir. These principles of vinification take the lightest possible hand in winemaking, and produce the essence of fine Burgundy. Founded in 1859, the house now owns 214 hectares of vineyards, including 113 hectares of the Côte d’Or’s most prestigious Premier and Grand Cru plots.
And finally, a bonus wine, tied for #20…..
2019 Bouquet Rouge Côtes du Rhône. $10.99. 40 bottles
This nifty little Côtes du Rhône tastes like a Hermitage. Round and abundant with a long, voluptuous finish. And an unbelievable value!
Voilà jusqu’en 2022!