More that a Poll- Explain Why You Buy Your Top Five Producers?

Many of us answer the repeating polls on top five producers in our cellars. Very few explain why. I am listing my top six producers - six because they make up 50% of my decent sized cellar - what I like from them, and why I buy them year to year, often without knowing what they’ll taste like but having confidence in the winemaker that it’s in my wheelhouse. I am hoping the extended group will do the same - which could encourage trying something new that just seeing a percentage or number may not. Give it a try:

I have an 800+ cellar. I have about 80 producers in that mix, with at least 40 producers being two bottles or less. My top six make up roughly half of the total bottles:

Sojourn: I started buying Sojourn around 2007, before I ever heard of a wine board. I personally consider Craig a friend though I only talk to him a couple of times a year. Their Pinot is just what our palates enjoy. This is not only the most purchased, but the most consumed. The Sangiacomo vineyard Pinot was our “go to” wine, I hesitate to say a $50+ dollar wine is a daily drinker, but it is great year after year. Some years their other RRV or Sonoma Coast SVD wines wow us (the Gap’s is usually good as is Ridgetop) but the Sangiacomo is consistently great. Their Cabs are also consistently good and for some reason I only buy a couple of them a year. The GIII and Proprietary Cuvee are usually very good fruit-forward wines. I usually buy a case at each release, with a bottle or two of their very good Chardonnay in each case.

Myriad Cellars: A virtual tie with Sojourn at around 10% of my cellar. I started buying in the 2006 vintage after an introduction by my brother Ken. Mike and Leah soon became friends. We’ve shifted from Syrah drinking, but I think his Dr. Crane and GIII wines are among the best made, and don’t let him hear this but the pricing is very fair for what he puts in the bottle. I also buy other wines made by Mike, including Patine Pinot, Quivet Cabs (LPV is very good), and some Carters. But, I always buy about two to three cases a year of Mike’s various wines.

Rivers-Marie: I obviously heard about this wine here on WB. I think my first purchase was 2007 vintage. The Pinots are consistently great, particularly the Silver Eagle and Occidental Ridge Pinots. These are are second most consumed even if we by a little less than we do of the top two. These are not full-throttled like some others, but are consistently great year in and year out. Of course the basic blend is a great daily drinker, but there is something about Silver Eagle I really like. The Cabernets are stellar, with the blend being a very good primer for their wine, and the Panek being my favorite of the SVD’s. I don’t buy much Chardonnay, but theirs is about the best we buy - the new Joy Road is very good as is their J. Thieriot Vineyard designate.

Kosta Browne: I think this is a larger percentage as it is more of a special occasion wine and thus purchases outnumber consumed. I think I made the appellation list for the 2008 vintage and just made the SVD list about two years ago. Often brought to dinner with friends or tastings where the hosts are not total Enophiles but will recognize we brought a nice bottle without having to “educate them” (not intending to sound snooty) on why we consider the smaller producers good wines. The SC and RRV blends are consistently good, and they have dialed things back since about 2008. My favorite of the SVD’s is Keefer Ranch, which I am allocated very little.

Rhys: I am not sure why my purchases outweigh consumption. Started buying after hearing about what Kevin was doing there - I think around 2009 vintage was first purchase. Visited a couple of years ago and was thoroughly impressed. Our favorites are the Bearwallow (Anderson Valley) and Swan Terrace. These wines are consistently very good and their customer service is fantastic (as are all of those I purchase from - do me wrong and I usually stop buying).

Realm Cellars: Realm rounds out the top 50% of my cellar with about 56 bottles. Usually a special occasion wine, my favorites are the Bard (Cab heavy Bdx blend), Dr. Crane and To Kalon (which i buy to bring to my best wine friend’s who greatly appreciates this). I have been buying since I met Wendell and Juan around 2007. While their wines are definitely fruit-forward, their balance and mouth enveloping flavor profile gets me every time.

So, tell me about why your top five (or so) are your favorites.

This is pretty short and sweet for me:

Gonon [5.2%] - Love the meaty/pepper/olive notes off of this wine. It never disappoints and I like being able to buy the St. Joseph to stash while drinking the Les Iles Feray young. Plus, I can find both for good pricing compared to the market.

Pepiere [5.0%] - Hard to find a better value white than the Clos de Briords and I enjoy the acidity that comes with these laser whites. Clisson and 4 are also winners. There’s something for everyone with Pepiere.

Foillard [4.1%] - I love Beaujolais and I think Foillard is just such a consistent winner. I also have a lot of Metras, but there is more bottle variation compared to Foillard, IMO. Also enjoy the different levels from Corcelette, Fleurie, Cote du Py, and the 3.14.

Jouan [3.9%] - I’m no Burgundy expert, but I find these wines accessible young, affordable, and simply delicious. In a world with $150 village reds, I’ll gladly turn to these wines that deliver as much joy to me for half to a third of the price.

Clos Rougeard [3.9%] - Best Loire cab franc, period. I splurge for these and feel great when I can find a deal. Although that’s no small task.

Nice idea.

Prum - For me these wines are the absolute definition of the Mosel, elegance, light, effortless. Whilst my favourite wine of each vintage isn’t always Prum, I never drink a Prum and find think I’d rather be drinking something else. The family are lovely people and lunch or dinner with them once or twice a year is a real pleasure. All combined with the fact that they hit the peak all the way across the range from estate wines and Kabs to Eiswein and TBA.

Péters - I’m lucky in having direct access and having corresponded with Rodolphe since before he took the reigns. As Prum is in the Mosel, Péters is in the Cote des Blancs, across the range racy exciting wines enjoyable young or old, a magnum of freshly disgorged extra brut back to early 90s Cuvée Speciale.

Lafleur - Just a beautiful right bank Bordeaux, I love the depth of complexity, ripe and rich in warm years but never lacking freshness. Wines of elegance and immortality.

Willi Schaefer - Like the Prums just wonderful people there’s a powerful density to the wines but all within such a light frame. The Schaefers add extra wine into the auction year after year to keep prices low for more lovers of their wines to enjoy. This is a small estate and there are many treasures to be found.

Grunhaus - Same story, wonderful and generous people. I only focus on the Kab and sweeter wines where I find the very definition of the Ruwer, a hint of mint and again immortality. To drink a 70s Kabinett from Carls cellar is one of life’s true privileges, and to hear him speak about the intricacies of the vintage. Not to mention his cellar of wines from the wider world.

Lilbert - Extract filled beauties that I enjoy while full of bite young but that blossom in middle age to beautiful swans. Ridiculously good value and (guess what) Bertrand is a real gent.

Truchot - These have been my favorite wines since first tasting one in the late 80s. It will soon fall out of #1 because I drink them and cannot buy more. The most elegant wine in the world, with the best nose.

Prum - Love these wines, but maybe not my favorite anymore. Have been buying Prum for a very long time (at least since the 1983 vintage if not before). While l like other producers like Zilliken, Schloss Lieser and Haart as much or more than Prum, I have been buying Prum longer and I tend to only drink these with age. So, I end up with more than the producers that I tend to drink young.

Jadot - Kind of not sure how these wines got so high on my list. Excellent wines but I probably like other Burgundy producers better. But, these have two advantages over other producers. First, for many years (less so today) these were just great values in Burgundy. They did not have the cache of small growers so prices did not inflate in the same way until recently. Second, these are easier to find that small producers. Then, in addition, again (as with Prum) these wines need a lot of age, so I tend not to drink them young and thus end up with a bunch of them as they age. All my Jadots are red. [Note I have not purchased any Jadots since Jacques Lardiere retired as winemaker. Have not tasted any more recent wines yet, although I will taste their 2014s at the Paulee Grand Tasting in NY in March. Perhaps consistent with this, I recently bought some Resonance Pinot Noir.]

Dublere - This is the exact opposite of Prum and Jadot. These wines I have only really been buying for a few years and I drink a good bit of them (esp. the whites) pretty young. This has been pretty high on my number of wines purchased by producer for the last few years because they are so yummy and, for Burgundy, so reasonably priced. Plus, I really like Blair Pethel. My wines from Dublere are a mixture of reds and whites. My only regret on Blair’s wines is that I cannot get some of his less expensive reds (say Chorey-les-Beaune) in half bottles. Would make a great everyday wine when I just want a glass or two.

Zilliken - Buying more and more of this over time. These wines are good young. These wines are great old. They are just fabulous wines, esp. from Saarburger Rausch. I would have more but I drink too much of these.

Duplicate post…

A total of four responders with three of the four being all French. Not a scientifically sound poll but tells you where a solid number of members gravitate.

Sorry, I didn’t look that closely to see the German in the other three responses.

All French?

The top five are first because I like them but also because I got great deals on them. Had I found better deals on other things, the producers might be different.

In order they would be CUNE, Roagna, Szepsy, San Roman, Chapoutier tied with Dunn tied with Miguel Merino.

It’s all the same to us, Russell.

Robert Chevillon - Discovered this producer really late but I have been busy buying back vintages. Holdings keep piling up because I have good EP allocations on this. Well priced Red Burgundy with great plots in NSG.

Fourrier - Good selections from GC, to CM, to MSD. Pure and elegant, I adore Combes aux Moines. EP prices are still reasonable.

Armand Rousseau - Was my #1 since '96 until three years ago. I have been priced out as demand skyrocketed. Fantastic selections from Village to Grand Crus. And I am nuts over Ruchottes Chambertin! If I can only buy one producer, Rousseau would be it!

Haut Brion - the unforgettable memories with '45 HB keep me coming back for more to no avail. But I keep on chasing.

VCC - Fairly priced Pomerol that can rival any in that region.

Ceritas - Chardonnay only for me. I have enyoyed John and Phoebe’s version of chards from the very beginning. I go so far back ( think 2005) that the only method to purchase was a form sent on a fax machine. Clean, acid, low oak, unripe, citrus … yum.

Rhys - PN and chard with a few syrah. I have tasted many of these as they are located up the hill from us. So, not much risk in buying. The guys at Rhys exude trust. Lovely wines with nothing new to this group to say. And they throw a heck of a wine tasting event up there.

Vincent Dauvissat - I have more Chablis then I care to say given the premox devils but I have kept it at post 2009 mostly. It’s the same reason I like Ceritas but a bit more gap in the affordability gap when you add in Clos and Preuses. Dauvissat sits nicely between Fevre and Raveneau. Fevre more of a kind of daily drinker with risk of premox. Raveneau, well, Raveneau.

Ridge - stay on the Monte Bello list for a number of years and there you go. Besides they almost demand age so I haven’t pulled many. I buy very little cabernet/blend and when I do it is Bordeaux and sparingly - mainly to satisfy the “what are we drinking with that prime rib?” or birth year wines. I cut my teeth in the 1970’s with Ridge. I keep a 2 bottle annual purchase of MB partly to attend the events which are also nearby. I do like their Estate Cab and Chard.

Lopez de Heredia - This largely started because I love Spanish food, especially SF Noe Valley’s Contigo. I found I like the white just as much as the reds. That lanolin in the blanco does something for me. It helps that everyone in the family enjoys the red. The reason my quantity is high is because I can find and backfill older vintages at somewhat decent prices. I expect Huet, Fevre or Chidaine to overtake this last category unless I find a case quantity of a LDH I like such as the 1991 GR Tondonia.

I thought I’d have more Germany on this list…

  1. Bedrock. Both Morgan and Chris are great guys, for my palate they are the tastiest wines coming out of California and I love their focus on historic vineyards. Also they produce a crap ton of different wines, all good values, and I have no willpower when the triannual release emails hit
  2. Halcon. I love syrah and there is not a better QPR coming out of California than the Alturas. Their other wines don’t suck either
  3. Scholium. Abe is such an interesting guy to talk to and while his wines can occasionally be hit or miss, each one is unique and makes me stop, contemplate it and reassess my former impressions of what a particular grape typically tastes like
  4. Keating. Everyday California values and Eric is another friendly guy
  5. Prum. Trying to get a few verticals going and keep my hands off them until they get a little age

Cristom–We fell in love with these wines at a dinner at Disney World, of all places. We joined the club for the 06 vintage. Idiot me, I already drank all my sh!tty 07s.

Copain–I was a fan of the old style; I’m a bigger fan of the newer style. I buy mostly Syrah now.

Drinkward Peschon–We shared a wonderful bottle on vacation in San Francisco. Screaming bargain IMO, and we love the people.

Schrader Cellars–If something happens to me my wife can flip them. That’s doubtful because she loves them (so I continue to buy).

Domaine Chandon de Briailles–We love the style and the people. We have visited a number of times, once even taking a group of students for a tour of the place and the chaperones for a tasting.

Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey–Thanks C Fu.

Domaine Louis Michel–Oak? What oak…?

I thought you said white wine doesnt count?

Interesting question. Would add a sub question: how long have you been collecting. Your answers will be very different according to when people started, as the economics of wine really changed in the early 2000s. I have been buying wine since 1985, so had access to every great wine at relatively low prices. God, I wish I had bought more then.

Top Bruno Giacosa: I bought most of my Giacosas prior to 2000, not before they had been discovered, as they were then one of Piedmont’s top two reds. But before the current swathe of new wine lovers wanting the very best found it, and demand quadrupled the price. Grateful I bought early, but I am selling some of the pricier red labels. as I find many of the white labels very satisfying.

Henri Bonneau Celestins. Mostly 2004, but a few others thrown in. Love the producer, had an opportunity to buy a large parcel and grabbed it.

Jadot: I think Howard nailed it earlier. good value for money, very solid seldom brilliant although 1996 was a benchmark year for them and I bought heavily.

Haut Brion and La Mission: 4 and 5 in my cellar. For me the most terroir driven Bordeaux.

Yea. These horrible French producers like Prum, Zilliken and Grunhaus.


A lot of these are producers you say you are not buying much from anymore. Who are you buying a lot from the last few years? I have found that the producers I have purchased the most from in 2016 are:

Schloss Lieser

Maybe us US Americans don’t have maps. To sort of quote a former beauty queen.

Ok, so I had a brain fart and didn’t say European - the point was proven by later posts as well - most here have cellars dominated by European wines. And I say most as clearly some have California wines in the mix.

Gonon - I love Northern Rhone syrah, and this is best in class for the sub-$50 range. Terrific expression of its terroir, archetype syrah. An annual buy and evey year expresses what nature handed it.

Levet - A unique, very old school expression of Cotie Rotie. Love the stemmy, gamey signature.

Ridge - An incredibly consistent winery with a very broad range of offerings. I mostly buy Geyserville and the Estate Cab. Rare to have a miss with these two wines, both age beautifully. Killer dinner party wine as they bridge the divide between new world and old world style.

Sociando Mallet - Classic display of old world Haut Medoc with an interesting, Cab Franc green signature yet the blend only has 5%. Incredibly consistent even in average years, matures beautifully, and in big years, glacially.

Baudry - Arguably the most consistent Chinon producer, with a solid range of cuvées from everyday pricing to vin du garde. Croix Boissee ranks up with the best Cab Franc made in Loire.