Top 100 Wines of France 2021

Crguk-Wine

James tastes blind 2018 Bordeaux while having a quick chat with producers in France earlier this year.(Photo by JamesSuckling.com)

An incredible Champagne – Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2008 ­– is our French Wine of the Year in 2021, and it highlights how we at JamesSuckling.com believe the appellation is making some of the most exciting wines in France and some of the best values in fine wine.

Granted, the best of Champagne is almost as expensive as the best of Burgundy, but provenance and process in making these great bottles are unequalled in the world of wine today. We have always believed that the best Champagnes are indeed great wines first and should be viewed and consumed as such!

Look at how one of the owners of Taittinger, Vitalie Taittinger, describes their winning 2008 prestige cuvée blanc de blancs: “It’s the expression of chardonnay that is super pure,” she said in a Zoom interview with me earlier this year. “In the beginning you feel the youth of the wine. And you are on the energy of the chardonnay. And you have something that is pure and precise. Then you feel it is a large wine but then very straight … then you wait for the second life of the wine in your glass. And the complexity and the years that are precious to the wine start appearing.”

The No. 10 wine on our Top 100 of France list: The Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac 2018. (Photo by JamesSuckling.com)
“The tannins are perfectly ripe and there are no angles in the tannins,” Edouard Moueix said of his 2018 reds, including our No. 2 wine, the Chateau Trotenoy Pomerol 2018. (Photo by JamesSuckling.com)

BOJO TO BURGUNDY

Beaujolais was another high point for us in 2021. It’s because we love drinking it, especially the old guys including me, Senior Editor Stuart Pigott and Contributing Editor Nick Stock. It’s so versatile, satisfying and refreshing. And it’s so evocative and makes us think of those amazing old head-pruned vines on the slopes of such places as Morgon or Moulin-a-Vent. Plus, they are so reasonably priced. Our No. 43 on this list is Domaine Anita Moulin-à-Vent La Rochelle 2019, and it sells for about $25 a bottle. In addition, the region of Beaujolais has two great years on the market – 2018 and 2019 – and 2017 and 2020 are also very good. You can pretty much buy what is on the retail shelves at the moment for Bojo.

Alsace is another area that’s close to my heart. The whites are so exciting to drink, particularly riesling, and the reds are now coming into their own. So many vineyards are organically grown or biodynamic, so you feel good, and even better, when you drink the best of Alsace. And the tradition runs thick with such names as the No. 4 wine on this list spotlighting a long family history and dedication to fine winemaking: Domaine Weinbach Riesling Alsace Grand Cru Schlossberg Cuvée Ste. Catherine 2019.

We still managed to rate almost 500 Burgundies this year and most were from well-known names that are often misidentified as negociants even though they are some of the biggest vineyard owners in the region. All the wines in the French Top 100 from Burgundy are superlative bottles, especially the likes of the Bouchard Père & Fils Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru Domaine 2019 at No. 5 and the Louis Latour Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru Les Quatre Journaux 2019 at No. 8.

READ MORE: SUPERLATIVE NEW BORDEAUX VINTAGE GIVES POSITIVE TWIST TO 2020

THE BEST OF FRANCE: James and Edouard Moueix of Jean-Pierre Moueix taste three of our top French wines: Chateau Trotanoy Pomerol 2018, Château La Fleur-Pétrus Pomerol 2018 and Château Bélair-Monange St.-Emilion 2018.

This said, we want you all to keep in mind that plenty of other wonderful Burgundies are available from lesser-known wineries and appellations. Take, for example, our No. 52 wine, the Domaine Charles Audoin Marsannay Les Favières 2019. It’s a wonderful example of wines we are always searching for, with great quality from an underestimated appellation. With global warming, we believe that wines like these are an area to focus on in the future, as great (and as expensive) as the prestige appellations are.

Bordeaux is certainly also excelling in the sunnier weather, with such a great year as 2018 accounting for the majority of the wines on this list. The 2018 vintage starts the great modern trilogy for Bordeaux – 2018, 2019 and 2020 – and it shows how today’s Bordeaux can provide fruit and richness without being too alcoholic or out of balance. This is true across the board. And it’s something rather unique to Bordeaux.

Old vines rest during the winter on the gentle slopes of Moulin-à-Vent, one of Beaujolais’ top Crus. (Photo by JamesSuckling.com)

“The tannins [in 2018 reds] are perfectly ripe and there are no angles in the tannins,” said Edouard Moueix, whose family had two wines on this list – No. 2 Château Trotanoy Pomerol 2018 and No. 19 Château Bélair-Monange St.-Emilion 2018. “They are the perfect backbone [to the wine] because you don’t notice them.”

Bordeaux 2018 accounted for about 30 percent of the French wines we tasted this year. We rated slightly more than 4,500 French wines in total. Most of the wines were tasted in Hong Kong with interviews done over Zoom. We also covered Alsace and Champagne very well. We only wish we tasted more wines from Burgundy (we did manage to rate more than 500), the Rhone, the Loire and Languedoc. But we hope with the improvement in the pandemic we can travel more to France in 2022 and taste, rate and learn more. I have been traveling to France as a wine journalist since 1983 and she never ceases to amaze me.

– James Suckling, Chairman/Editor

The list of wines below is comprised of bottles tasted and rated in 2021 by the tasters at JamesSuckling.com. You can sort the wines below by vintage, score and alphabetically by winery name. You can also search for specific wines in the search bar. 

#mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; width:100%;}
/* Add your own Mailchimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block.
We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */

The post Top 100 Wines of France 2021 appeared first on JamesSuckling.com.