Ten World Wines You Must Really Try

Ian D’Agata shares insights and impressions on ten European wines  that made an impression on him from the most recent vintages to older wines that have still plenty of life left.
by Ian D’Agata

There are wines, at all price points, that are simply wonderfully delicious, and others that are amazingly collectible and justifiably expensive. Over the last six months I have had the opportunity and the good fortune to taste a number of wines that were utterly wonderful. Not all the wines in this list are of the most recent vintage, some have quite a few years on them but all are currently expressing some facet that pertains specifically to them (the grape variety, an aspect of their terroir, their production method) that is especially intriguing, enlightening and tasty. Some wines will be easier to find than others, but all are well worth the search. Enjoy!

The wines in this report

Chateau Léoville Las Cases 1989 Chateau Léoville Las Cases Saint-Julien                               94

Bright medium red-ruby. Perfumed aromas of blackcurrant, boysenberry and bilberry, with hints of tobacco and forest floor. Very smooth, round and long, this medium-bodied smooth, very accessible red enters fruity and suave, then is slightly more diffuse in the middle palate, and finishes long and suave. It’s an excellent red Bordeaux from one of the left bank’s six best properties, one with a long track record of spectacular wines, but the slightly high crop levels typical of the 1989 vintage shows in the way of a little less concentration than is normal for this famous wine. Drinking spectacularly well now and utterly delicious now, wonderfully graceful in the style of LLC,  it will still age very well for decades. Drinking window: 2024-2040.

Chateau Petit Village 1990 Chateau Petit-Village Pomerol                             93

Vibrant ruby with little rim. Rich, dense aromas and flavours of smoky plums, blackberries, tar, licorice and candied violet, plus the typical note of mushrooms and truffles of older Pomerol wines. Wonderfully luscious and long, with just a hint of rusticity on the tannins, this is a spectacularly good Pomerol that has weathered the ravages of time well losing its baby fat but turning into a wine that is at once beautifully austere and luscious. A splendid example of just how well Bordeaux’s red wines age, this will last easily another decade and more in a good cellar. It was also very underrated at release. Drinking window: 2024-2036.

Dirler-Cadé 2019 Gewurztraminer Saering Grand Cru Alsace                                    94

The Saering is a unique site most often associated with austere savoury Riesling wines but where some pretty amazingly elegant Gewurzes can also be made, such as is the case with this beauty. From a a winery that is a true expert in eliciting terroir nuances from all its grand crus, this lovely pale yellow wine boasts refined aromas of tropical fruit and sweet spics. Then similarly restrained in the mouth, with flavours of both orchard fruit and tropical fruit, this will appeal to all those looking for a Gewurz wine with less oomph. The aftertaste is long and gently spicy. Memorable stuff, and a wine that showcases just how fantastic Alsace’s Gewurzes are, quite often better than many overrated Riesling wines from the region. Drinking window: 2026-2038.

Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler 2008 Erdener Prälat Riesling Auslese Mosel                                92

Medium golden-yellow. Hints of petrol, honey and sweet spics mingle with pear, apple and tangerine. Smells sweet but is not at all so in the mouth: the mellow flavours of orchard fruit have a glycerol viscosity and roundness but the long tactile finish is virtually bone dry. Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Frescobaldi 2019 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Calimaia                            92

Bright medium red. Lovely aromas and flavours of violet, red and dark berries, licorice and tea leaves. Juicy and lively, with an easy-drinking quality that is absolutely charming, this finishes long and clean with a hint of rising minerality. From the Frescobaldi family’s latest acquisition, a Vino Nobile that speaks of both Sangiovese and internationals and does so with noteworthy grace and refinement. So accessible already now, but with sneaky concentration, you could drink this lightly chilled and be none the worse for wear. Drinking window: 2026-2032.

Kuentz-Bas  2015 Pinot Gris Vendanges Tardives Cuvée Caroline                             95                 


Outstanding stuff. Deep yellow-gold colour. Marmelady botrytis notes of honey, nail varnsi, honey and ripe orchard fruit compote on the penetrating, complex rich nose. Then just as rich yet lifted in the mouth, with the honeyed flavours of pear, caramel apple and cinnamon lingering nicely and complicated by hints of truffle. Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio in a sweet, late harvest version (the Cuvee caroline is a famous Alsace Vendanges Tardives wine), but so concentrated like no Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris wine you have probably ever had before. Drinking window: 2024-2034.

Louis Roederer 2012 Champagne Cristal            98

Bright please yellow colour. Aromas and flavours of apple, pear and tangerine are nicely framed by perfumed white flowers. At once rich yet lively and lithe, due to 2012’s reduced crop load (mildew problems) this is a richer than usual Cristal but still is its usual refined, light on its feet, vibrant self. A 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay blend with 7.5 g/L dosage, this is the first Cristal ever made from completely biodynamically farmed vines. Drinking window: 2024-2035.

Moet et Chandon 2013 Champagne Dom Perignon                           95

Pale straw yellow with a steady stream of small bubbles. Minerally-tinged white flowers, nectarine, apricot blossom and mint dominate on the nose and the mouth. Juicy, fresh and zingy. The long cool growing season has given us a lightly less rich mouthful of Dom, but one that is also piercing and precise, finishing long and focused with vibrant, harmonious acidity. Early season weather contributed to some Berry shatter that ultimately helped increase flesh and density in the finished wine. Lovely Dom Perignon that strikes me as falling somewhat in between the styles of the magnificent 2002 and the lighter but lovely 2004. Drinking window: 2025-2040.

Roger Belland 2009 Criots Bâtard-Montrachet Grad Cru                      96

Bright yellow gold. Just a touch of oxidative nuances on the nose, but otherwise spectacular: honey, apple, orange, banana aromas and flavours are long and complex. A real  mouthful of wine, this lasts and lasts but does so with grace and refinement. Exceptionally concentrated wine, this is another beauty from this very fine estate. Drink up soon. The 2012 is even better. Drinking window: 2024-2037.

Tommaso Bussola 2008 Amarone della Valpolicella TB                        95

Deep ruby. Rich, luscious, hedonistic aromas and flavours of red cherry macerated in alcohol, dried figs, milk chocolate nutmeg and quinine. Luscious smooth and full-bodied, but with amazing grace for such a big wine, this showcases just how elegant yet powerful Amarone can be. Bussola is an Amarone star and this shows why. Drinking window: 2024-20386.


Ian D'Agata

Editor-in-Chief of Terroir Sense Wine Review
President of Terroir Sense Academy
Vice President of Association Internationale des Terroirs
Chief Scientific Officer of TasteSpirit

Ian D’Agata has been writing and educating about wines for over thirty years. Internationally recognized as an distinguished expert, critic and writer on many wine regions, his two most recent, award winning books Native Wine Grapes of Italy and Italy's Native Wine Grape Terroirs (both published by University of California Press) are widely viewed as the "state of the art" textbooks on the subject. The former book won the Louis Roederer International Wine Awards Book of the Year in 2015 and was ranked as the top wine books of the year for the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times and the New York Times, while the latter was named among the best wine books of the year by Food & Wine Magazine and the NY Times.

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Ian D'Agata