A good bottle of wine can easily transport you back to your favourite place. A warm summer’s evening in Italy? That classic Chianti will carry you back to Mediterranian coastlines and fresh, flavoursome dishes. Or how about a deep, dark Syrah with an aroma of cosy British evenings, wrapped up warm and digging into a rich and tender dish with family.
It’s safe to say that no other drink has the potential to captivate an audience like wine does. Which means that, no matter the number on the price tag, your favourite bottle of wine is a priceless investment.
Wine is much like bags, cheese pairings and shoes: you’ll want a different one for every occasion. But knowing which you should enjoy when is a strenuous – but nonetheless delicious – mission.
And where to start when searching for the best wines? Our best wine list covers everything you need to know, from the variety to the vineyard and the full-bodied to the light and crisp.
Here, you’ll find good wines you’ll want to share with your friends, right through to the best bottle of wine you’ll keep tucked away at the back of the cupboard for only the most special of special occasions. You’ll also discover the best wine to invest in and the most delicious vintage to drink this year. Read on to discover your new favourites on our top rated wine guide.
No time to read through our entire list? We’ve chosen the Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard River Stones Malbec 2016 as the overall best wine and the Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 2016 as the best value wine.
The 15 best wines of 2020
Bodega Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard
Selecting our overall best wine was no easy task but this 2016 Malbec is sure to be a winner no matter who’s pouring it. It’s an incredibly nuanced and detailed wine, promising depth and character from every sip. One of the highest rated wines, it’s a critic’s favourite and a rich, aromatic bottle to delight family and friends over dinner.
Thought to be perhaps the best ever wine produced by Catena, it’s dense and fresh, full-bodied and layered, flavourful and elegant all at once. It’s a wine to please the masses but a bottle that you’d be forgiven for saving for yourself. Featuring aromas of roses and pine needles with hints of spice and tobacco, it’s a wine that just keeps on giving. Enjoy it for its bold and structured notes.
Appellation: Uco Valley, Argentina
Sine Qua Non
An extremely highly-rated wine, Sine Qua Non proved its expertise again with its 2006 Syrah. This is one of the most premium wines produced in California and comes with the price tag to match. Its popularity stems from its incredibly velvety tannins and dense, layered flavours. A Shot in the Dark is composed of 96.5% Syrah and 3.5% Viognier from the 11 Confessions Vineyard and is a rich and intense red wine with plenty of character.
Only 442 cases of this wine were produced and it’s one that’s best held onto for at least a few more years. It offers an aroma of blueberry pie, blackberries, Asian spices and forest floor with a hint of chocolate when sipped. It spent 32 months ageing in barrels before being bottled and is a stunning wine from start to finish.
Appellation: Central Coast, California
Grgich Hills Estate
Fresh and balanced, Grgich Hills produces distinctive wines and its 2016 Chardonnay is just that at an accessible price. A creamy and flavourful medium-bodied wine, it’s full and well-rounded with plenty of intense, fruity notes. It’s produced using biodynamically grown grapes and is beautifully structured with pear, apple, pineapple, peach and honey flavours.
The 2016 is one to open now, with a crisp acidity that’s balanced through from the first sip to the last. Aged in stainless steel barrels, it’s a classic vintage Chardonnay that’s known for being one of the best and relatively easy to get hold of. Enjoy each of its tropical layers to really get a feel for the structure that makes up this bottle.
Appellation: Napa Valley
Best value: Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 2016
Screaming Eagle is a name you’ll hear again and again when talking about high quality wine and takes the top spot for producing premium quality Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s an incredibly full-bodied wine, boasting a dark red colour with an entire bouquet of flavours. It’s produced on a limited basis, with the brand only selling between 400 and 600 cases of the wine each year. But if you can get hold of a bottle, it’s worth holding onto.
This opulent wine is a vintage worth talking about, with a range of firm, deep and rich flavours like spring flowers, graphite, creme de cassis, kirsch and liquorice. It’s aged in 65 percent new French oak barrels for almost two years before being bottled and sold and is one of the finest on the market.
Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Napa Valley
Most expensive: Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Martha’s Vineyard is known for its unique microclimate and 2014 was an especially strong year for its grapes. This Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the best that money can buy; known for its aroma of bay leaf, mint, anise and dark chocolate and its distinctive palate.
This wine spent three years ageing in new French oak barrels, one in neutral oak and an additional year in bottle before being released on the market. With its strong flavours of sweet black fruit, fresh red plum and a touch of warm vanilla, it’s a smooth and classic red wine that’s a true pleasure to taste. Expect a crispness of red fruit and orange peel combined with a ripeness that’s only deepened over time.
Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Napa Valley
Best Cabernet Sauvignon: Heitz Cellar Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Think of a good Merlot and Masseto should come to mind. If it doesn’t, then it probably will once you’ve sampled the brand. Its 2016 release is a seamless wine that’s super concentrated without being overbearing. It’s dark, sumptuous and expressive; perfect for those who enjoy a dark red wine with an intense aroma. The 2016 combines rich and silky tannins with notes of dark fruit, spice, sweet tobacco and black cherry.
A solid wine, it’s reminiscent of Masseto’s 2001 release and is best held onto until 2023 to enjoy the wide range of flavours. This 100 percent Merlot was aged for two years in oak barrels and is polished on the nose with a delicious finish. It’s a wine with plenty of structure with a bright and vibrant acidity.
Appellation: Tuscany, Italy
Best Merlot: Masseto 2016
A good Pinot Noir is typically light to medium-bodied and fruit-forward and Wayfarer’s 2014 Golden Mean offers exactly that. A complex wine filled with earthiness and exotic Asian spice, it’s one to sip slowly to really take in each and every note. It’s an elegant wine that really comes through with a wide range of fruity and perfume hints, like raspberry, peach, violet and red cherries.
A further sip will reveal notes of pomegranate, cinnamon stick and toast, making this compelling wine one to enjoy slowly. Over time, it promises to develop more spicy notes, making it a bottle that’s enjoyable now or even more so if left to age further.
Variety: Pinot Noir
Appellation: Fort Ross-Seaview, California
Best Pinot Noir: Wayfarer Golden Mean Pinot Noir 2014
The 2016 Rochioli Vineyard Chardonnay is a favourite wine for many; beautifully crafted with a wide range of dancing flavours and aromas. It’s a wine that’s both elegant and powerful, combining classic notes of white flowers, citrus and orchard fruits with spicy and buttery hints for a unique finish.
Its standout texture blends perfectly with its crisp acidity, offering a medium to full body and an ever-growing foundation of flavours as it’s enjoyed. Some of this stems from its ageing process: this wine was aged in 21 percent new French oak for 20 months and offers subtle flavours of integrated oak as a result. It’s a creamy wine with enough savoury hints to make it a top choice for those looking for a strong Chardonnay.
Appellation: Russian River, California
Best Chardonnay: Ramey Rochioli Vineyard Chardonnay 2016
Cloudy Bay has made a name for its fresh and intense wines and a favourite among lovers of the brand is its 2019 Sauvignon Blanc. It’s made up of complex layers of guava, gooseberry, tropical fruits and fresh herbs, coming together to create a delicious fruity white wine.
It’s a vibrant and expressive bottle, with a bright aroma bursting with tropical fruits and acidity. One to drink now, this white wine is easy to enjoy and goes down smoothly, promising a refreshing palate that’s perfect for summer. It’s a wine that might just cause your mouth to water after sampling, thanks to its sweet, concentrated notes and impressively long finish.
Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Appellation: Marlborough, New Zealand
Best Sauvignon Blanc: Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Terlato Family Vineyards
The Friuli Colli Orientali region in Northeastern Italy is famed for its extraordinary wines and one of its unmissable bottles is Terlato Family Vineyards’ 2018 Friuli Pinot Grigio. A tangy white wine, it offers floral flavours of peach and pear mixed with aromas of stone fruit and honeysuckle. It’s medium-bodied and has a complexity far beyond its price point.
Its appellation is widely recognised as one of the best regions for luxury Pinot Grigio in the world and this wine in particular pays homage to that fact with its expressive character. Its accessible price makes this wine an easy choice for a summer evening dinner. Pair it with seafood or subtle chicken dishes for best results.
Variety: Pinot Grigio
Appellation: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
Best Pinot Gris: Terlato Family Vineyards Friuli Pinot Grigio 2018
Riesling is one of the top white grapes in the world and the best bottles usually come from Germany. Usually known for its strong floral aroma, it’s a wine that’s best enjoyed sparingly, sip by sip. Robert Weil’s 2018 offering is an intensely rich and creamy Riesling, stuffed to the brim with ripe mandarin orange, papaya and mango flavours to produce a classic of its variation.
This Riesling has an aroma of spring flowers and is worth every penny for its price. Don’t disregard it for its sweetness, because this dessert wine cleverly ends up maintaining a slight dryness and a long finish. It’s fermented entirely in stainless-steel tanks and combines acidity with clean flavours and a lasting intensity.
Appellation: Rheingau, Germany
Best Riesling: Robert Weil Kiedrich Grafenberg Riesling Spatlese 2018
This 2016 Shiraz is famed for its bold, earthy flavours and dry palate. It’s a wine with class, offering a brick-red core and plenty of rich tannins. The 2016 is a blend of 95 percent Shiraz and 5 percent Cabernet Sauvignon; full-bodied and incredibly powerful. It’s mostly made up from black fruit notes but promises a huge range of flavours when delving deeper through each sip.
It’s a powerful wine with an impressively long finish, drawing out hints of star anise and savoury spices with oak, chocolate and vanilla to end. An elegant bottle, it promises creaminess on the palate and a stunning fruitiness with every mouthful.
Appellation: Barossa Valley, Australia
Best Syrah: Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz 2016
A powerhouse of a bottle, Carlisle’s 2017 Papera Ranch is an excellent Zinfandel with plenty of depth and character. It’s extraordinarily deep and features a wide range of dark, jammy flavours with a long, dry finish. This is a wine to pair with a range of strong-tasting dishes to really bring out each and every element of its personality. Expect fruit-forward notes, typical of a Zinfandel, with an earthy, herbal structure.
It’s an example of everything a good Zinfandel should be, combined with remarkable fruit flavours, a deep ruby-purple colouring and a dash of acidity to round it off. This is a dynamic wine that’s ready to be enjoyed on a relaxing weekend.
Appellation: Russian River, California
Best Zinfandel: Carlisle Papera Ranch Zinfandel 2017
The 2006 Chateau Latour has a great potential to increase with value over time. Currently sold for around $1,500, it’s an impressively deep, dark red wine made up of 77 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 16 percent Merlot, 4 percent Cabernet Franc and 3 percent Petit Verdot. It’s broad, savoury and rich with a unique finesse in the fruit and full of complex tannins.
In 2016, Chateau Latour released the last of its prestigious 2000 batch—a welcomed decision as all previously released bottles were quickly snapped up. This is a wine that, while best to mature for a while yet, promises to dance on your tastebuds when finally opened and enjoyed. Save it, and count down the days until you finally give in and open it.
Variety: Bordeaux Red Blends
Appellation: Bordeaux, France
Best bottle to invest in: Chateau Latour 2000
Sauternes wines get their character from their grapes, which come from the Sauternes region of Bordeaux and have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, which you might know as “noble rot”. This results in distinct and concentrated flavours, of which Château d’Yquem’s 2005 promises plenty.
This wine is a brilliant, golden colour with a fresh acidity and notes of honeycomb, orange blossoms and saffron. It’s a bottle for the impatient; perfect for drinking in 2020 after 15 years of maturing. While it begins as a subtle wine, it’s one that grows with each sip, with a concentrated nose of apricot, honey and marzipan and earthy notes of dried citrus. It’s well-rounded and medium sweet with a velvety texture.