What to Drink Next: Trust These Names in Wine
For super wines at every price, look to these seven great wine families.
It's a common wine quandary. Maybe you know a $10 wine you like. But then you need a $30 wine for a dinner or a gift, or you need one that’s truly high-end: $80, $100, even more. But with thousands of wines out there, how do you know what’s good?
One answer: Keep it in the family. In the wine world, there are family-owned wineries (or groups) that apply relentless attention to quality at every price level. Perhaps that’s driven by generations of winery-owning parents telling their children things like, “If you destroy our winery’s reputation, I shall come back to haunt you forever!” Or perhaps not. Regardless, it’s good for wine buyers. Here are seven to seek out.
The Antinori family has been tied to wine since 1385, making them the 10th-oldest family-owned company of any kind in the world. Now run by a trio of 26th-generation sisters—Albiera, Alessia, and Allegra—Antinori makes uniformly impressive wines from benchmark (and pricey) Super-Tuscans such as Tignanello and Solaia to approachable reds from Tuscany, Puglia, and beyond.
Bargain: 2015 Santa Cristina Toscana ($13)
Aromas of wild berries define this medium-bodied Tuscan red, made from a combination of Sangiovese, Cabernet, Syrah, and Merlot.
Upgrade: 2015 La Braccesca Vino Nobile di Montepulciano ($25)
In the right hands, the “Noble Wine of Montepulciano” offers hard-to-resist sweet raspberry flavors and tea-leafy notes.
Splurge: 2015 Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Superiore ($125)
Piero Antinori created this intense, black currant–rich red to highlight the potential for Cabernet in Tuscany’s Bolgheri subregion.
Rioja’s Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE), or Cune (pronounced “COO-nay”), got its start in 1879, the inspiration of Eusebio and Raimundo Real de Asúa. The brothers’ descendents still own the company, producing superb Riojas at every price, and in every quantity—from nearly a million bottles of the Cune Crianza red to less than 3,000 of their top wine, Real de Asúa, named after the company’s founders.
Bargain: 2017 CVNE Monopole Blanco ($14)
This creamy, nectarine- scented white, made from the Viura grape, has been one of CVNE’s signature wines since it was first released in 1915.
Upgrade: 2014 CVNE Viña Real Reserva ($45)
Viña Real comes from Rioja Alavesa rather than Rioja Alta and is typically a bit darker-fruited and more earthy than CVNE’s flagship Imperial reds.
Splurge: 2011 CVNE Imperial Gran Reserva Rioja ($80)
From a great vintage in Rioja, this profound red possesses layers of rich red cherry and cassis flavors that last long after the final sip. It will age for decades.
3. Maison Joseph Drouhin
The Drouhin family has been making wine in Burgundy since 1880 (and in Oregon since 1987), achieving a reputation for excellent wines from vineyards they own (domaine wines, in Burgundian parlance) and from fruit they purchase (négociant wines). That means high-quality entry-level bottles, subtle village wines for a bit more, and brilliant (albeit sometimes very pricey) premiers and grands crus.
Bargain: 2016 Joseph Drouhin Laforêt Bourgogne Pinot Noir ($16)
Light and bright cherry flavors make this négociant Bourgogne rouge a hard-to-argue-with everyday pour.
Upgrade: 2015 Joseph Drouhin Côte de Beaune ($44)
Pinot Noir from different vineyards throughout the Côte de Beaune go into this satiny, raspberry-inflected red.
Splurge: 2016 Joseph Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches Blanc ($180)
This seductively complex white comes from a premier cru vineyard that the Drouhins originally acquired in the 1920s.