Top 10 vintages you must try in French wines

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Reading time: 0 minPublished on 4 January 2023, updated on 16 April 2024

For the French wines, the year, also called « vintage » is really important as the weather has a great influence on the ripeness of the grapes ! Each region has its own grape varietal and a year can be great at Bordeaux and bad in Burgundy… In the following vintages, you can select wines from any region.

1947

1947 is for me, probably the vintage of the century ! Yes it is old, yes it is rare, yes it is expensive, but if you can drink a single glass of a 1947 well aged, you will never forget it ! You can choose a red or a white, a dry or a sweet, a Bordeaux or a Burgundy, everything is great… The weather was incredibly hot, the harvest was huge and the wines outstanding. It is the ultimate vintage to try ! My choice : Château Doisy-Vedrines in Sauternes.

1959

The vintage 1959 is regarded, for the wines of France, as one of the best ever produced. In 1959, the weather was sunny in February and March, and if the month of May was a little bit rainy, the sun came back till September ! The harvest started the end of September in good conditions, giving a small crop of high quality. The wines of that vintage are aging perfectly despite their low acidity. They are deep, ripe and soft with great fruit and a long finish. My choice : Corton Clos du Roy in Burgundy.

1982

Probably in the top 5 of the best vintages in the century, specially for the wines of Bordeaux. Harvest with a warm weather, giving powerful wines sometimes called « California style » because of their richness and their fruit forward. They were good at any step of their life : young, after 10 years, after 20 years and still great today, they are 38 years old…The wines had high tannins, which turned soft now, but also a great fruit that is still there ! My choice : Château Grand-Puy- Lacoste in Pauillac.

Also read- Bordeaux- Gateway to the world of wine

1989

The weather conditions of 1989 were outstanding ! Early spring, giving a perfect flowering, then a very hot summer with frequent but short rains. The harvest started very early, the earliest since 1893 on September 1st with perfect conditions. This is why the wines of 1989 are so impressive today, they had a great balance between structure, fruit and acidity to last at least 30 years…so it is time to enjoy them now… My choice : Château La Dominique in Saint-Emilion.

1990

Wine lovers know that for the wines of France, the same château can be outstanding in 1990 and weak in 1991 ! The weather is different each year, and focusing on the vintage is the right way to choose a French wine… This one was great everywhere, dense, with a great fruit and a style that can match with the taste of any wine lover ! Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhône, Loire, Alsace, you can try any wine of that vintage. If you love sweet wines like Sauternes, do not hesitate, it’s a must in 1990. My choice : Château Magdelaine in Saint-Emilion

1996

1996 is the vintage to look for if you are a big fan of the « left bank » in Bordeaux, it means wines with a majority of cabernet-sauvignon, a varietal that does not ripen perfectly every year ! Huge harvest giving very seductive wines, plenty of fruit with a long finish. They can hold decades for the best ones ! Burgundy made of pinot noir is also a vintage to look for and you will get both quality and quantity… My choice : Château Calon-Ségur in Saint-Estephe.

Also read- The 5-minute essential guide to Burgundy wines

2005

If you are a big fan of the elegant, smooth wines made of pinot noir, this is the perfect vintage to look for ! An early harvest September 10th for the wines of Burgundy, gave ripe fruits, with great balance and a long, deep and sweet taste. As great as 1959 or 1990, this vintage made wines that will last decades…Those who love strong wines to pair with spicy food should focus on Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2005, they are amazing. Most of the wines are closed today and need more time to give their best ! My choice : Clos des Papes in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

2009

The big difference between 2005 and 2009 is that if you do not have time to wait for a French wine to be at its peak, 2009 is a wine for you ! This is typically a vintage for those who do not care about technical explanations but want something soft with a lot of fruit, low tannins and a long finish…Specialists say that the warm weather gave wines lacking a bit of balance, but they are so, so good, giving immediate pleasure. Why settle for less ? My choice : Hermitage « La Chapelle » in Rhône valley.

2010

This vintage is considered as a « classical » one for French wines : it means that they have structure, acidity and fruit ! But in this vintage, the structure is very strong, the acidity is high and the fruit is phenomenal ! They are still closed and need time to soften their tannins. They will give, in a couple of years, amazing wines. If you have some, wait…but if you want to taste them now, decant 1 hour and you will enjoy a great « classical » My choice : Château Bellefont-Belcier in Saint-Emilion.

2015

Among the 10 vintages of my choice, this is probably, with 2009, the most easy to approach because it is fresh, elegant and…easy to understand. It is also the best vintage since 2010, with a different style, perhaps less complex but really good. The wines have a good balance and an immediate fruit that lingers and lingers. They have a high degree of alcohol, and for the wines of the south of France like Châteauneuf-du-Pape they are gorgeous. My choice : Domaine Saint-Préfert in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

By France.fr

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