Top 75 French Wines to Try Before You Quit Drinking (a non-dump bucket list if you will!)

31. Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewürztraminer Heimbourg Vendange Tardive – This may not be the best wine on the list, but it has the best nose.  This is a late harvest sweet wine.  How sweet depends on the vintage.  The nose is exotic with tropical fruits and minerals.  Great to drink as well.  Works well for dessert (but not with chocolate).  Delicious wine that can occasionally be found on sale. 

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32. Domaine Dugat-Py Chambertin – Another of the great red Burgundies not to be missed.  Complex and nuanced, this requires cellaring for ten to fifteen years.  A truly special wine though. 

33. Domaine Leflaive Montrachet – One of the top Chardonnays in the world from one of the top producers.  Rich and luxurious by Burgundy standards but enough minerality to keep everyone happy.  Ages for a long time. 

34. Chateau La Mission Haut Brion – Not a first growth but almost.  The sister property to Haut Brion.  In some vintages it is better.  The 1989 is the best Bordeaux I have ever had. 

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.

35. Leoville Las Cases – Not a first growth but considered a “Super Second”, that is, a second growth Bordeaux that is almost as good.  Can be an incredible wine although vintages matter.  If you are going to splurge, make sure it’s a great vintage. 

36. Chateau Suduiraut – A beautiful dessert wine from Sauternes.  One of two go-to Sauternes if you can buy d’Yquem.  Tastes of honey, citrus and floral notes.  Viscous and lasts forever.  Always a hit. 

37. Chateau Rieussec – The other of the next two best (after d’Yquem) Sauternes.  Maybe a bit sweeter than Suduiraut but it’s a matter of personal preference.  One can’t go wrong. 

38. Gerard Raphet Chambertin Clos de Beze – A semi-affordable version of this Grand Cru Pinot Noir from Burgundy.  Rich with plenty of great cherry fruit.  With age, this develops complexity.  Drink either very young or with ten years of storage in a good cellar. 

39. Francois Cotat Sancerre Chavignol La Grande Cote – From one of the ancestral homes of Sauvignon Blanc.  This is mineral driven with racy acidity in addition to the citrus fruit.  Not much in common with the New Zealand or California versions of this grape.   A fantastic wine that will age for five to ten years and gain in complexity. 

40. Domaine Pegua Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve – One of the top “regular” cuvees of Chateauneuf.  They also make a luxury cuvee called de Capo which is amazing.  This wine can be found everywhere and is affordable.  It’s the kind of wine that built the reputation of Chateauneuf du Pape. 

41. Cos Estournel – From the Bordeaux commune of Saint Estephe, this winery has been on a roll.  Their wines from the 80s and 90s were already critical successes but the last few years have seen them pull even with the first growths.  Now being made in a more upfront style, they can be drunk very young, but should age beautifully for twenty years. 

42. Dom Coche Dury Corton Charlemagne – While Montrachet always seems to get top billing, I have a soft spot for Corton Charlemagne.  Allegedly where King Charlemagne noticed the snow melting earlier on this hillside and thought to plant grapes.  A great Chardonnay. 

43. Domaine Leroy Musigny – From one of the premier producers in Burgundy and one of the great Pinot Noir vineyards of the world.  Expensive and hard to find, but a special treat for those lucky few. 

44. Paul Jaboulet Hermitage la Chapelle – One of the iconic Syrahs in the world.  Grown in the Northern Rhone valley, this producer has had ups and downs over the years, but seems to be on a winning streak as of late. 

45. Domaine Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Windsbuhl Selection de Grain Noble – This is a dessert wine from one of the top producers in Alsace.  Somewhere between aSauternes and an Eiswein in style, these wines for some reason don’t command the price of either.  That’s the consumer’s fortune as they are amazing. 

46. Clos Saint-Jean Chateauneuf du Pape Sanctus Sanctorum – This is really rare.  Only 200 magnums are produced in good vintages.  It is 100% Grenache and a really special wine.  If you ever get a chance, don’t pass it up. 

47. Ducru Beaucaillou – A second growth Bordeaux wine from the commune of Saint Julien.  This is one of the last truly great “affordable” wines from Bordeaux.  Even in off vintages, they seem to make great wine.  Long lived and needing time in a cellar, but a wine that easily makes this list. 

48. Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape Hommage Jacques Perrin –The luxury cuvee from Beaucastel, this is very expensive, but if you get the chance, it really is a step up from the basic version.  It is not made in every vintage and represents the best of what a Chateauneuf wine can be. 

49. Vieux Chateau Certan – Another Bordeaux wine, but this time from the right bank.  It is from Pomerol and is a Merlot based wine.  Contrary to Sideways, Merlots can be incredible as this wine demonstrates.  It takes some time in a cellar to develop, but then it is excellent.  In off vintages, it usually exceeds the quality of the vintage. 

50. Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume – A dessert wine from the Loire Valley.  Made from the Chenin Blanc grape, this wine is fantastic young and will age and develop for a long, long time.  Sweet, with apple and pear scents, the nose is great.  Goes well with food as well.