Château La Mission Haut-Brion

Haut-Brion’s neighbor across the street should not be overlooked.
Although it is not a First Growth, intuition suggests that the terroir has every bit of the potential as that of Haut-Brion.

For many years La Mission was considered to produce superior wine. This was the case at least through the ‘70s. The 1978 is an epic bottling from La Mission Haut-Brion, along with the ’82, ’61, and ’55. It has been under the same ownership as Haut- Brion since 1983, and today both estates are managed with the same exacting care.

Château Trotanoy

It is difficult to place Trotanoy in our hierarchy: as a top collectible or as an “also noteworthy” wine. I am tempted to place it at the head of the second class rather than at the bottom of the first, but I place it here with the four-star wines on the strength of the beauty of some of the bottles from the ‘60s and ‘70s that I have had.

There are, to be sure, some vintages that are very highly sought-after. Recent years include 1982, 1970, and 1975, and in the period before that 1961, 1959, and 1945. In the last few years the wines have again regained a similar level of esteem among collectors, but there was a period from the mid-80s to the mid-aughties that was not at the same level.


Domaine Dujac

There might be an argument for putting Dujac just after Rousseau, but I put Roumier in that spot because of the collectability of the Musigny, which is insanely limited and expensive. Dujac has a very strong level of quality throughout the range and more difficult to say which is their “top” wine. Certainly the most expensive is the Chambertin, followed by the Romanée-Saint-Vivant.

There is slightly more Chambertin (0.29 ha) than Romanée-Saint-Vivant (0.17 ha), but it is rare indeed to taste either of these wines. When tasting at the Domaine, normally the Bonnes-Mares comes last, which is nearly always a give-away. Certainly, there is less of it than there is of their other top grands crus, but in my mind there is also a very strong attraction for the Clos de la Roche and the Clos St. Denis.

The domaine owns nearly two hectares of the former and nearly a hectare and a half of the latter (as opposed to 0.57 ha of Bonnes-Mares), so your chances are better of finding those. The latter two “Clos” are also among the most emblematic of the Morey-Saint-Denis grands crus, the village where they are based. Even the Bonnes-Mares has a food in Morey (although the vast majority of it is located in Chambolle-Musigny), but the Clos de la Roche and the Clos St. Denis are in the heart of the village.

There is also an extremely attractive Charmes-Chambertin and an Echezeaux, along with a Gevrey « aux Combottes » and Vosne-Romanée « Malconsorts ». These are only the top wines, but the range is wide and quality is admirable throughout and collectability through the principal premiers crus is very strong.

Domaine François Raveneau

Chablis as a category has perhaps been victim of its own success over the years. In some ways ubiquitous, even the grands crus have never been seen as being quite at the very top rank in the way the grands crus of the Côte d’Or have been. Domaine François Raveneau is the producer that has changed this. The top wine here (as at most estates) is the Grand Cru Les Clos.

A powerful, concentrated masterpiece year in and year out, it is now equal in price (and esteem) to most wines from Chevalier-Montrachet, and surpasses in both regards many other grand cru wines. Other bottlings from Raveneau are also highly collectible, including the grands crus Valmur and Preuses, and among the premier cru wines the Montée de Tonnerre is a signature item for Raveneau and the Vaillons, Butteaux, Monts Mains, and Forêt all share the masculine, massively dense and long-lived house style.



Philipponnat ranks indisputably with the four-star producers because it is the majestic wine produced from the stunning single-vineyard called the Clos des Goisses. The vineyard was cobbled together in a series of transactions made by Pierre Philipponnat beginning in 1935.

The vineyard is a 5.83 ha site on steep slopes facing due south in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. Because of the dramatic slope, which reaches 45° in some places, this is an exceptional site to grow grapes. The vineyard is appreciably warmer than the rest of the village. Because of these conditions, a vintage wine can be produced almost every year.

The winery was sold in 1998 to BCC, whose president Bruno Paillard appointed Charles Philipponnat director and confirmed Thierry Garnier as Chef de Caves. Philipponnat’s team has put together a seductive profile for its flagship wine. The blend is a mixture of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with anywhere from 50 – 75% fermented in cask.

Clos des Goisses is released in blanc and Rosé versions, and there is a Long Vieillissement (late-disgorged) bottling as well. Relatively new introductions at Philipponnat include their Parcellaires series and the super-cuvée from the Clos des Goisses called Les Cintres. Each of these is eminently worth seeking out and aging, while the 1522 series will provide great satisfaction for more everyday consumption.

Jacques Selosse

Anselme Selosse – son of Jacques Selosse – is a genius. Of his genius, we can be sure, although we may not agree about his wines. The style of the wines, like that of the man, is highly individual. With time, however, one inexorably comes to appreciate both. Selosse is one of Champagne's most profound thinkers about winemaking, viticulture, and the environment. He produces a prolific range of wines.

There are three non-vintage Blanc de Blancs made from grapes coming from his home village of Avize: Initial, Version Originale, and Substance. These are considered the "entry-level" wines, yet they are breathtaking. Many involve the fractional blending technique, often referred to as réserve perpetuelle or solera. The range gets particularly interesting, however, with the series of single-vineyard wines called the "lieux-dits". Each comes only from one individual site: Les Carelles vineyard in Le Mesnil; Chemin de Chalons in Cramant; Les Chantereines in Avize; La Cote Faron in Aÿ; Bout du Clos in Ambonnay and Sous le Mont in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ.

There is also a vintage-dated wine from Selosse, the aptly named Millésimé (French for "Vintage"). It is not produced every year, and when it is, there are only about 500 cases. Under Anselme, it was made exclusively from two sites in Avize planted with old vines, Les Maladries du Midi and Les Chantereines. Now that Anselme's son Guillaume manages the winery, the direction has changed. The vintage wine now comes from the best parcels across the domaine, including their holdings on the Montagne and in the Grande Vallée.