Five Top Rated Premium Wines You Need To Try At Least Once In Your Life
"You have only so many bottles in your life - never drink a bad one." - Len Evans, wine lover
With some 31.4 billion bottles bought and sold across the world each year, finding that perfect wine can be tricky. You know you’re a wine lover when you spend hours agonising over the right bottle to impress a date, pair with your other half’s gourmet cooking, or to stash away in the cellar.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to select amazing wines every time? Well, you’re in luck. Read on for our expert-approved tips and tricks to help you choose the perfect wine for every occasion.
- Follow wine critics
- Consider price
- Food matters, but not that much
There are dozens of wine critics and journalists who get sent hundreds of samples to taste every year. Lucky them. We don’t recommend trawling through all of them, but the best thing to do is pick a couple of wine critics who seem to like the same wines you do. Look out for wines that they rate highly and try them out. Think of them as your personal wine guides. Examples of top wine critics include Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, and Antoni Galloni.
Before you buy any wine, have a budget in mind. There are excellent wines on the market at every price point. If you’re working to a limited budget, look for wines which have received high ratings (typically in the 90’s) and have a modest price tag. If you’re got a bit more to spend, why not pick something really special that has earned rave reviews from your favourite wine critics.
If you’re a true wine lover, you probably love your wine more than your food. Pairing great wine with the perfect dish is important, but what matters more is actually enjoying both the food and the wine. If you’re struggling to pick out the perfect wine to match a certain dish, like asparagus, for example, which can be tricky to pair, focus on choosing a wine you know you love. That way you’ll still get to enjoy a delicious wine rather than selecting something you may not like simply because it’s supposed to pair well with what you’re eating.
Still need a bit more guidance? Good, because we asked our wine experts here at 8wines to pick their five top rated premium wines. Our team tastes wines from all over the world to create our hand-picked collection of exceptional quality bottles, so we’re confident they know their stuff.
Top Rated Premium Wines
Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012
For a rare taste of Italian wine history, try this magnificent Amarone from the legendary Quintarelli winery in the Veneto. The estate’s legendary enologist Giuseppe Quintarelli is considered by many to be Italy’s finest winemaker. He was one of the few who fought to follow traditional methods of winemaking while his neighbours converted to mass production techniques in the 60s and 70s. Bepi’s love of the old ways even extended to his wine labels which are still to this day written by hand.
With an average rating of 97 points, Quintarelli’s classic Amarone is made in an opulent style and is only produced during the very best vintages. Widely regarded as setting the benchmark for the Amarone style, this robust red is finished in Slavonian oak casks for seven years. The result is an intense, full-bodied Amarone with smooth tannins and firm structure that will age beautifully in the cellar.
Thanks to the larger-than-life personality of this big red, it's recommended to decant this wine an hour or two before serving to appreciate its true beauty. Try serving it in an oversized wine glass with a wide opening to help soften the tannins and appreciate the complex layers of luscious dark fruit along with more savoury spiced and leather notes.
Rafael Palacios Sorte O Soro 2019
Also with an average 97 point score is Sorte O Soro 2019 from Rafael Palacios who’s widely regarded as Spain’s top white winemaker. Rafeal Palacios left his family’s winery in Rioja in 2004 for the rugged Valdeorras corner of north-western Spain close to the Portuguese border. In total he’s assembled 24.5 hectares of vines in the Val do Bibei, a dramatic landscape of steep granitic slopes and old gnarled Godello vines which are up to 100 years old. The tough conditions mean everything has to be done by hand, including the harvesting!
This bottle is Rafael’s very finest white, and is made from a single 0.47 hectare plot of 40 year old vines. In keeping with Rafael’s hippy approach to winemaking, it’s fermented using wild yeasts and aged in 500-litre French oak demi-muids for seven months.
The result is a truly sensational white wine that frequently wins 98+ points from the Wine Advocate and other top wine magazines. It’s bursting with peaches, apricots, lychee and hints of dried herbs, honeysuckle and citrus, while the first sip reveals a mouthwatering acidity, well-rounded texture and long finish seasoned with plenty of toast and spice. Try pairing with grilled langoustines or the classic Italian dish of “Scaloppine di Vitello al limone” or veal served in a creamy lemon sauce for a gourmet dinner to remember.
Montevertine Le Pergole Torte 2018
Another sensational 97-point Italian wine, this time from the legendary Montevertine estate in Radda-in-Chianti in Tuscany. Interestingly, the property was once the summer house of steel magnate Sergio Manetti who purchased the then-neglected property back in 1967. With the help of local expert Bruno Bini, Sergio recognized the potential of the site’s high altitude plots and began planting vineyards. His wines proved so successful that Sergio quickly gave up his high-flying career to become a full-time wine producer.
No good story is complete without an obstacle for our hero to overcome. And so it was that Sergio’s determination to produce breathtaking wines led to conflict with the rulemakers of the Chianti Classico DOCG. Instead of conforming to regulations that insisted he include a proportion Trebbiano in his wines, Sergio took the maverick route of simply labelling his wines Rosso di Toscana rather than Chianti Classico.
Today Le Pergole Torte is regarded as one of Italy’s top wines and it’s only ever made with fruit from Montevertine’s oldest Sangiovese vines. Well-developed tannins and luscious dark fruit flavours make the Le Pergole Torte a pleasure to drink even at such a young age, although an additional decade of cellar ageing will enhance the wine’s savoury and leathery character and add even greater finesse. Enjoy alongside a fine steak or osso bucco for a decadent treat.
Domaine de la Cote Bloom's Field Pinot Noir 2017
This blockbuster list of premium wines wouldn’t be complete without an entry from our American cousins. Domaine de la Cote's Bloom's Field netted an average score of 96, but it’s rarity makes it very hard to track down since just 1000 cases are made each year. Luckily we still have a few available at 8wines while stocks last!
This wine even recently featured in the movie Somm 3 where some of the world’s top sommeliers and wine critics rate it as being the equal of two top quality Burgundies. It’s best served in a dedicated Burgundy wine glass which has a wide bowl to help the wine breathe and express its complex aromatics.
For those of you wondering about this little-known producer, Domaine de la Cote is a collection of 6 stunning vineyards in the Santa Rita hills. The estate is currently at the forefront of Californian Pinot Noir thanks to a commitment to terroir-driven winemaking and Burgundian techniques. The estate was purchased in 2013 by Raj Parr and Sashi Moorman who planted the vineyards with California heritage selections and pursue a philosophy of “add nothing; take nothing away”.
Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2015
Our experts headed to Bordeaux for the final entry on this list, the Chateau Leoville Poyferre 2015 with an impressive average score of 97 points. This historic chateau played a pivotal role in Bordeaux winemaking since they were amongst the first in the region to start ageing their wines in oak barrels, and to use grape varieties with smaller berries to create more concentrated wines.
Today the chateau is known for its powerful St-Julien reds which age well in the cellar and offer consistently high quality every vintage. Each parcel of vines is fermented separately to give maximum control over the final blending, and the young wine is aged in 75% new French oak barrels for 18 months before bottling.
This Grand Vin typically has luscious dark fruit accompanied by a muscular structure and a very long finish. Rich dark berry notes dominate on the nose along with deeper tones of undergrowth, green bell pepper, spice and woodsmoke. A great wine to cellar for a couple more decades in the cellar. Or if you’d prefer to enjoy it now, pair this punchy red with hearty meat dishes like venison, barbecued ribs, steak or a rich stew.
Why These Wines?
Each of these top rated wines has been reviewed by expert wine critics who spend (almost) every day of their life tasting and evaluating wines. Now that doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to love them, but it does mean that these wines are of exceptional quality and have been approved by professionals who really know their stuff.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into who these critics are and how they rate wines.
The most legendary wine critic on the planet, Robert Parker founded "The Wine Advocate" publication in 1978. He was also the owner up until 2019 when it was purchased by the Michelin Guide. It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of Parker and The Wine Advocate. Getting a 100-point score from The Wine Advocate can make or break a winery.
Here’s what The Wine Advocate scores mean:
- 96–100 – Extraordinary
- 90–95 – Outstanding
- 80–89 – Barely above average to very good
- 70–79 – Average
- 60–69 – Below average
- 50–59 – Unacceptable
Over his career Robert Parker tasted his way through thousands and thousands of top wines right up until his retirement in 2019. Today the big name to watch out for are The Wine Advocate’s editor-in-chief, Lisa Perrotti-Brown.
Australian wine critic James Suckling passionately believes that an outstanding quality wine must improve with age. That’s why he’s made a habit of tasting young wines to assess their ageing potential, information that he shares on his website through detailed tasting notes and videos.
James Suckling has used this 100-point scale below for almost 25 years:
- 95+ points - must buy
- 90+ points - outstanding
- 90-91 / 92-93 - wines rated from barrel / unfinished wines
- 88 points and less - worth buying, but proceed with caution
- Lower than 88 - wouldn't recommend
James has rated close to 250.000 wines and has wine reviews about more than 130.000 wines on his website currently. Every month James and his team collectively rate more than 2000 wines. That’s a whole lot of wines, and it’s also proof that James and his team really know what it takes to make a top rated wine.
Established by Bob Morrisey in 1976, Wine Spectator is an American magazine that specialises in publishing tasting notes and wine industry news. Their annual Top 100 Wines and Wine of the Year rankings are published each November - this is always the most hotly anticipated edition of Wine Spectator for wine lovers and winemakers alike. Even James Suckling wrote for this magazine from 1981 to 2010.
The Wine Spectator 100-point wine-scoring scale is:
- 95–100 – Classic: a great wine
- 90–94 – Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
- 85–89 – Very good: a wine with special qualities
- 80–84 – Good: a solid, well-made wine
- 75–79 – Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
- 50–74 – Not recommended
The Last Drop
Our final tip for drinking great wine? Never miss the opportunity to try something new. Here at 8wines we’re always discovering new and exciting wines which we think you’ll love. And we make sure that we always display wine critic scores and a detailed tasting note to help you make up your mind.
Whether it's up-and-coming Moldovan winery like Chateau Purcari or Canada’s Nk’Mip Cellars which happens to be the very first Indigenous-owned North American winery, we can guarantee we’ve got something you won’t find anywhere else. Why not browse our 1500+ wines and see what you can find?
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