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Food & Drink Features

Putting together the ultimate half case

Wine enthusiast Jay Labrador names six of the greatest French wines ever made.
Jay Labrador | Feb 21 2019

There are a couple of wines that appear in critics’ lists as among the greatest wines ever made—Mouton Rotschild 1945 and Cheval Blanc 1947— both of which appear on this list. Beyond these two, it gets more difficult and highly subjective. Personal taste, interest in region, rarity, price, and balance in the types of wine for inclusion all play a part. Certainly, some will ask, why all French? Why no bubbles, why no dessert wines? It also would have been much easier to  put together an ultimate case, but a half case allows more focus and raises the bar even higher. 

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanee-Conti 1997

This Domaine towers above every other in Burgundy and its monopole 1.8-hectare vineyard (also called Romanée-Conti) produces 450 cases of the world’s most expensive red wine. 1997 was a perfect vintage for red Burgundy.

 

Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947

A difficult vintage produced a wine with technical specifications that should have been a disaster, yet somehow the wine was a masterpiece.

 

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 

(L-R) Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947, Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1945 and Chateau Petrus 1982.

Chateau Petrus 1982  

Although the wines of Pomerol have never been classified, the undisputed King is Petrus. 1982 was a near perfect vintage, which resulted in this small production wine rated a perfect 100 by American wine critic Robert Parker and a perfect 5/5 by British wine writer Michael Broadbent.

 

JL Chave Ermitage Cuvee Cathelin 2003

The previous five wines covered the well-known regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy, but the Rhone also deserves some attention. Although the hill of Hermitage accommodates many excellent producers, the one that has most wine geeks lusting after it is JL Chave; his rarest, most select bottling is designated “Cathelin.” This designation appears in tiny script on the label, perhaps no more than an inch long at the bottom right. Robert Parker also rates this wine 100 points.

(L-R) JL Chave Ermitage Cuvee Cathelin 2003 and Coche Dury Corton Charlemagne 2001.

Coche Dury Corton Charlemagne 2001

The only white wine on this list. Michael Broadbent says, “From the Meursault master’s small parcel of vines in the Corton Grand cru, harvested by 22 pickers, making an early start and finishing by 11:00 a.m.!” Powerful and very hard to find.

 

Photographs by Jar Concengco

This piece originally came out in issue 4, 2011 of Vault.