Wines of the Year 2021

My Wines of the Year is now in its 24th year of continuous publication, but once again 2021 was so unusual with so few trips and so many tasting events cancelled. Thanks to Zoom meetings with winemakers, as well as drinking more from my own cellar, I still managed to taste as widely as ever.

As always, I invite you to send in your own nominations for publication. The ‘Dud’ can be the worst, or most disappointing wine, and please use ‘Thing’ as imaginatively as you like. Obviously the definition of ‘budget’ in this exercise will vary for each person, so there’s no hard and fast rule.

Entries for Visitors Wines of the Year are now closed, but see over 60 lists submitted by visitors to wine-pages.

Tom’s Wines of the Year 2021

Red ‣ Domaine de l’Arlot, Romanée-St-Vivant Grand Cru 2015 (France)
White ‣ Ken Forrester, Dirty Little Secret 3 Chenin Blanc (South Africa)
Budget red ‣ Domaine Les Grands Bois, Cairanne Cuvée Maximilien 2019 (France)
Budget white ‣ Adega Monção, The Society’s Exhibition Alvarinho 2019 (Portugal)
Rosé ‣ Champagne Philipponnat, 1522 Extra Brut Rosé 2008 (France)
Sweet ‣ Cantina Tramin, Epokale Gewürztraminer Spätlese 2013 (Italy)
Sparkling ‣ Champagne Dom Pérignon, Vintage Brut 2006 (France)
Fortified ‣ Quinta do Noval, Colheita Port 2007 (Portugal)
Extra choice ‣ Château Beychevelle, St-Julien 1985 (France)
Dud ‣ Villa Maria, Private Bin Lighter Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (New Zealand)
Thing ‣ My lockdown-inspired business continues to give me huge satisfaction, though I guess after another year of rampant Covid, good health has to be the greatest thing of all.

A few notes on my choices: the main awards are very much dominated by French wines. On the other hand, my ‘runners-up’ are more evenly balanced, with more New World wines. Does it suggest Europe has the edge to my palate, or was it just coincidence? It’s hard to say, but it was a year for some fabulous performances from classic European regions. My Extra choice is my beloved Beychevelle 1985 – our anniversary year, and the second last bottle from a case that has drunk beautifully for three decades. My dud? New Zealand is leading the way in lower alcohol wines at 9% or so. While some are doing it quite successfully, like Dr John Forrest, it’s a bandwagon that others are leaping aboard less successfully.

Click to read full tasting notes for Tom’s Wines of the Year.

With the sheer number of excellent wines tasted, I’ve allowed myself my usual indulgence of a baker’s dozen ‘so very nearly made it’ contenders – all of these could have made the main list quite easily, so congratulations to all:

  • Champagne Roederer, Blanc de Blancs 2013 (France)
  • Sacred Hill, Riflemans Chardonnay 2019 (New Zealand)
  • Penfolds, Reserve Bin A Chardonnay 2019 (Australia)
  • Château Couhins-Lurton, Graves Blanc 1967 (France)
  • Château d’Esclans, Les Clans Rosé 2019 (France)
  • Château de Pommard, Clos Marey-Monge Monopole 2019 (France)
  • Akitu, A1 Pinot Noir 2019 (New Zealand)
  • Cristom Vineyards, Eileen Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018 (USA)
  • Yarra Yering, Dry Red Wine No. 1 2015 (Australia)
  • Château Pichon-Baron, Pauillac 2015 (France)
  • Riverby Estate, Noble Riesling 2019, New Zealand
  • Domaine Philippe Delesvaux, Coteaux du Layon SdGN 2005 (France)
  • Château Suduiraut, Sauternes 2001 (France)

Go to Visitors Wines of the Year 2021


  1. Quite a spread of regions and prices. It looks like the champagne selections came in just as the curtains closed. I shall take the recco on 1522 rosé as a nudge to revisit Philipponnat pinks.
    As always a selection worth waiting to hear about.

    1. Cheers Ray. In fact the Dom Perignon was in pole position since a bottle in the summer (that’s when the tasting note is from), but a second bottle last week was equally compelling. The Roederer BdB was indeed a last minute inclusion, tasted last week and my list edited, sadly knocking out the Castelnau Hors Categorie CM 1993 from my runners up list. So many more I could have included in a rich year of drinking! Looking forward to reading your list.

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