How many fine and rare wines does the average wine lover get to try, do you think? Not that many. By definition, fine and rare wines are, well, rare. Most of the best wine in the world is made in such limited quantities that very few of us ever get to taste it.
Question: Why don’t people drink more fine and rare wines?
Short answer: It’s because they’re fine and rare wines.
Whether it’s from a small Burgundy domaine, a grand Bordeaux château, a legendary Champagne house or a top Spanish bodega, demand almost always outstrips supply when it comes to fine and rare wines. Spending hundreds – or thousands – of euro on a bottle of wine is not an everyday occurrence for most of us. Put it together, and you end up with a huge percentage of the world’s finest wines being enjoyed by a very small minority of super-rich wine lovers.
That doesn’t mean we can’t dream, though. The world of fine wine is vast and there’s good (and even great) wine everywhere, but truly outstanding wine is a little harder to come by. They’re out there, but you just need to know where to look.
For those of you that have a special occasion coming up, are planning on winning the lottery sometime soon, or are perhaps looking into robbing a small bank, we’ve compiled a list of five of the greatest fine and rare wines ever made.
The 5 fine and rare wines you have to try
The world’s finest wines don’t come cheap, and many of us won’t ever get near them. If you’re the kind of person that likes to spend a little (or a lot) more on the finer things in life, however, you’re going to want to memorise this list!
1. Krug Clos de Mesnil 1996
Champagne has long been a byword for luxury, and it’s no surprise that some of the world’s most fine and rare wines are sparklers from the Champagne region in northern France. Krug Clos de Mesnil 1996 isn’t just any old Champagne, either: This is a single vintage, 100% Chardonnay, single vineyard bottling from one of the region’s greatest houses. The vineyard in question is the eponymous Clos de Mesnil, a tiny 1.85-hectare site in the Mesnil-sur-Oger village on the Côte de Blancs. Champagne simply doesn’t get better than this. Oh yeah, and it’s got a perfect 100-point score from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate!
Alcohol content: 12%Serve between 4ºC and 8ºCOptimal consumption period: 1996-2021Best served in Prestige Cuvée GlassPairing: Appetizers, Bluefish, Fowl, Seafood, Soft Cheese, Whitefish.
2. Teso La Monja 2009
Spain’s Toro region produces some of the world’s most fine and rare wines. Top producers, like the Eguren family of Teso la Monja, can make fine wines on a par with anything from Ribera del Duero or Rioja, let alone Bordeaux and Burgundy. Teso La Monja 2009 is 100% Tinta de Toro (the local name for Tempranillo) and comes from a tiny single vineyard plot whose vines predate the phylloxera epidemic. The wine is made in accordance with the principles of biodynamics, and in tiny quantities: Not much more than 800 bottles are made each year. This is the highest end of Spanish wine.
Alcohol content: 13%Serve between 14ºC and 18ºCOptimal consumption period: 2009-2034We recommend to decant the wine 1 hour before servingBest served in Tempranillo GlassPairing: Beef, Game Animals, Grilled Red Meats, Roasts, Stews.
3. Château Palmer 2000
Officially ranked a third growth in Bordeaux’s 1855 Classification, Château Palmer has long outperformed even that prestigious distinction and has a loyal, cult following to rival any fine wine in the world. It was the château’s legendary 1961 vintage that eventually gave rise to the term “Super Second”, and it often makes superior wines to its first growth neighbour, Château Margaux. Its unusually high Merlot content gives Château Palmer a seductive and almost haunting perfume to complement its power and complexity. This 2000 vintage is one of the finest in recent memory. This is mature and you can certainly drink it now, though it will continue to evolve and hold for years to come. Château Palmer 2000 is a modern classic and a benchmark for the estate, for Margaux and for Bordeaux as a whole.
Serve between 12ºC and 16ºCOptimal consumption period: 2000-2025We recommend to decant the wine 2 hours before servingBest served in Bordeaux GlassPairing: Aged Cheese, Game Animals, Grilled Red Meats, Legume, Roasts, Stews.
4. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche 2001
The pinnacle of fine and rare wines is surely Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Burgundy. No other wine producer in the world comes close to the prestige that surrounds this estate and its wines. The most famous of all is the tongue-twisting Domaine de La Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti, but there is an entire portfolio of fine wines besides. La Tâche 2001 comes from a tiny hillside vineyard in Romanée-St-Vivant. The wine is one of the finest expressions of Pinot Noir, showing a velvety warmth, spice and earthy notes. One of the great bucket list wines, plain and simple.
Alcohol content: 13%Serve between 14ºC and 18ºCOptimal consumption period: 2001-2026We recommend to decant the wine 2 hours before servingBest served in Burgundy Glass
5. Château d’Yquem 2001
Last but certainly not least is Château d’Yquem 2001. A perfect 100-pointer from the world’s greatest sweet wine producer. Great Sauternes can outlive any red wine, and there’s simply no greater Sauternes than Yquem. Producing Sauternes is a painstaking process and attention to detail is crucial. Château d’Yquem simply does not compromise on quality, and will not hesitate to not release a given vintage if the wine does not meet its exacting standards. From an excellent vintage, the 2001 Château d’Yquem is characterised by harmonious balance, undeniable opulence and first-class refinement. There’s literally nothing like Yquem.
Alcohol content: 14%Serve between 6ºC and 12ºCOptimal consumption period: 2017-2032Best served in Sauternes GlassPairing: Blue Cheese, Chocolate, Desserts, Ice Cream, Pastry.