The Three Wines to Try Before you Die


Something you can get hold of…

Classic Napa Cabernet; Chateau Montelena

Prohibition nearly killed the budding wine business in the United States. After the repeal of prohibition, wineries were slow to recover and most producers made low-quality bulk wines. A poor reputation was borne out of that. Fortunately, in 1976 an impassioned English wine merchant was determined to prove Napa’s potential. The man, Steven Spurrier, organized a blind tasting in France and included Napa Cabernet with Bordeaux 1st and 2nd growths. The tasting, now referred to as the “Judgement of Paris” gave Napa County its well-deserved street cred, with Chateau Montelena stealing the show in first place. The French were not best-pleased! 30 years later, the competition was re-run, to much international interest… Yet again, these Californian wines beat the Bordelaise hands down. Taste a piece of history and ‘judge’ for yourself. Available at GrapeSmith, Hungerford

Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 £54

Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2016 £54

And something you probably can’t

1921 Château d’Yquem Sauternes

Still a legendary property, this year saw the end of an era coincide with an exceptional vintage.. The 1921 harvest took 39 days to pick and was the last vintage that Yquem owner Le Comte de Lur-Saluces sold in cask. In 2010, auction house Christie’s sold one bottle sold for £1,375 – double the estimate. Described as ‘one of the miracles of the last century’, the 1921 hardly seems to have changed for the last 40 years. Those who have tasted it say it still has great sweetness and even keeps an impression of freshness. There is complexity found in every nuance that is the signature of this extraordinary wine; this really is the stuff of legends. Described by Michael Broadbent as ‘a colossus’ and ‘the most staggeringly rich Yquem of all time’.

And the one to change your mind…


We all have our opinions when it comes to wine. However, if there’s ever a phrase we still here a lot, it’s that old ‘ABC’ (Anything but Chardonnay) mantra that seems to be a hangover from days gone by, when certain new world countries took to making oaky, buttery, over-extracted fruit bombs. The Cote d’Or, in the heartland of Burgundy, is considered to be the very best place in the world for the finest expressions of this chameleon grape. It’s no coincidence that these wines are ranked amongst the best in the world, across all categories. They really can be exceptional, and exceptionally long-lived. If you want to know how good Chardonnay can really be, but without taking out a small bank loan, treat yourself to a really good Meursault. Take some advice from a local wine merchant and expect to pay upwards of £40 (but comfortably less than £60) and prepare to see Chardonnay is a new light.