Last updated on February 3, 2024
It is that time of the year for me to share my list of the best wine 2023, my year in review. Besides the various in-person and Zoom tastings I attended here in Los Angeles this year, I traveled to North Carolina to discover the Yadkin Valley’s Surry County Wine Trail and The Crest of the Blue Ridge AVA. I ventured to New Brunswick, Canada, to discover the cool-climate wines influenced by the tides. My journeys always take me to the Central Coast to discover new wineries since the area is my favorite place within two hours of my home.
The wine is listed in categories. The wines chosen represent only those I sampled during the year. I wrote about most of them in one of my articles on the Written Palette or for another outlet. Others will be in an article that comes out in 2024.
Table of Contents
Best Wine 2023 – Sparkling Wine
Y by Yoshiki Brut Champagne blending Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. I found an elegant, delicate Champagne with soft, tiny bubbles.
Mia Nipote: This label from the Lineage Collection of Steven Kent Winery leans in an Italian bent. The most unique is the Sparkling Barbera, created using méthode champenoise. One finds fresh, ripe fruit accentuating the flavors and aroma of this sparkling wine.
Best Wine 2023 Whites
Coquelicot Grüner Veltliner: This Grüner showcased light fragrant aromas and exhibited subtle hints of citrus on the palate. It delivered a fresh, crisp, and appealing wine.
Fontanavecchia Taburno Falanghina del Sannio DOP 2022. I found a well-integrated, fresh wine from Campania with aromas of tropical melons, stone fruit, and lemongrass. On the palette, I tasted the wine’s minerality and salinity.
Jefferson Vineyards Petit Manseng Virginia 2021: I found a bright wine with high acidity and lemony and zesty flavors. On the nose, aromas of honey and tropical fruit prevailed.
Robert Hall Cavern Select Chenin Blanc Shell Creek Vineyard: The grapes come from 60-year-old vines in the Paso Robles Highlands—the Chenin Blanc ages in concrete, stainless steel, and puncheons. I found a light wine with citrus flavors and hints of apple and pear.
Rancho Viñedo Doña Martina Chardonnay 2018: I found a citrusy and savory Chardonnay with hints of apples, stone fruits, and lemon zest.
Refugio Rancho Malvasia Bianco: With its floral aromas of orange blossom, the wine displays stone fruit and citrus flavors.
Roblar Fume Blanc: I found a refreshing wine with apple, pear, and citrus flavors.
Buttonwood Sauvignon Blanc: Aging in French oak and adding a smidgeon of Semillon brings out virtues of this variety. The wine exhibits a bright demeanor with hints of lemon and nice acidity.
Winegarden Estate L’ Acadie Blanc: This Ontario hybrid is known as the chardonnay of the Maritimes. L’Acadie Blanc displays light, fresh flavors of pineapple and pear.
Best Wine 2023 Whites From North Carolina
Marked Tree Gruner Veltliner: This North Carolina winery’s Gruner has notes of stone fruit and apple.
Souther Williams Vineyard Gruner Veltliner: I found a citrusy wine with lovely lemon essence.
Jones Von Drehle Viognier 2022: This North Carolina Viognier expresses subtle hints of honeysuckle.
Jones Von Drehle Petit Manseng 2021: This North Carolina wine exhibits some viscosity and stone fruit flavors.
Round Peak La Petite Vendage 2022: This North Carolina wine offers a crisp and fruity take on Vidal Blanc.
Best Wine 2023 – White Blends
Vega Vineyard & Farm Bianco White Wine Blend: The wine combines Albariño, Marsanne, and Vermentino. I found a fragrant wine with flavors of pear and apple.
Domaine Latitude 46 Estate Côte d’Orange 2022: This Seyval and Frontenac Gris blend reveals strawberry flavors.
Best Wine 2023 – Rosé
Masciarelli Rosato IFT Colline Teatine DOC Linea Classica: This Rosé is produced from the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grape. The wine delivers rose petals and strawberry aromas. The palate is citrusy, with a little spritz revealing delicate cherry flavors.
Vega Vineyards & Farms Rosato: This Rosé comprises a unique blend of Dolcetto, Barbera, and Vermentino. The grapes harvest when the Vermentino is ripe. I found wonderful flavors of red berries.
Saracina Rosé of Grenache 2022: I found wonderful floral aromas with hints of cherry greeting you. On the palate, the wine displays refreshing, crisp raspberry flavors.
Bells Up Prelude Rosé of Pinot Noir: This Rosé gets its name from Franz Liszt’s “Symphonic Poem No. 3: Les Preludes”—an estate Rosé composed of various clones of Pinot Noir. I found a gorgeous colored and luscious Rosé with aromas of strawberry and savory flavors of strawberry and watermelon.
Notre Vue Rosé of GSM: This Sonoma County wine defines elegance in a glass. The wine is lovely, and the bottle is created from a special glass, adding elegance to the Rosé and creating a beautiful keepsake or vase with its chic design and quality.
Jolo Winery and Vineyards: This wine represents North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley. Jolo Pink was the top winner of the American Fine Wine Rosé Competition in Florida. Combining Chambourcin, Vidal Blanc, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and Traminette, Pink delivers a crisp, elegant, Provencal Rosé with flavors of strawberry and grapefruit.
Marked Tree Chloe: Another North Carolina Rosé but from the Crest of the Blue Ridge AVA. Chloe combines Cabernet Franc and Lemberger. The Cabernet Franc uses the Saignee method. The Lemberger is blended in and fermented in oak barrels. I found a Rosé with fresh berries and savory dried herbs.
Best Wine 2023 Reds
Native9 2014, 2016, and 2018 Pinot Noir: Native9 Pinots are characterized by floral perfumes, and on the palate, they are distinguished by ripe red fruits accented by subtle spices.
Eleven Eleven X-I Cabernet Sauvignon 2020: This wine comprises 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% mix of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. I found a balanced and softer Cabernet; red and dark fruits combine to produce a wine with an elegant, smooth texture.
Rancho Viñedo Cabernet Sauvignon 2018: With its smooth demeanor and nice balance, the wine displayed blue and black fruits and hints of savory spices.
Buttonwood Carbonic Cabernet 2020: The carbonic process produces a fresh, fruit-forward, low-tannin red wine. In this case, a fresh and bright wine with flavors I describe as boysenberry meets cranberry.
Jones Von Drehle Cabernet Franc 2017: This North Carolina wine reveals subtle nuances of raspberry and black pepper.
Refugio Ranch Grenache: The grapes come from the youngest vines on the property and deliver fresh, fruity qualities.
Domaine Bousquet Gaia Nouveau Malbec: This Argentine wine is created with carbonic macerations
Jones Von Drehle Merlot 2017: This North Carolina wine is fruit-focused with black cherry and mocha.
Veritas Winery Petit Verdot: This Virginia wine combines Petit Verdot primarily with Merlot. On the first sip, the wine seemed big. As the wine airs, it softens, and the acidity comes through with floral aromas and hints of dark fruit. The wine is intense and concentrated, with blackberry and black currant flavors and hints of tobacco and baking spices.
Col D’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino Nastagio DOCG 2016: Nastagio represents a single vineyard Brunello and one of the newest additions to the portfolio. This young, high-density vineyard was planted in 2006. The wine represents a modern approach to Brunello winemaking. Aging the wine for one year in tonneaux imparts softer tannins, after which the wine transfers to a large botti, bringing out the elegant tertiary elements. I discovered a wine with depth, complexity, and excellent structure. Red fruits permeate this wine.
Col D’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2017: The wine exhibited fresh and fruity nuances and appeared young. I found cherry flavors that enhanced this elegant and drinkable wine that seems reliable and trustworthy for a traditional wine.
Refugio Ranch Ava Lu: This wine combines Grenache, Grassiano, and Syrah from two estates. After barrel aging, the wine spends several months in concrete. This blend delivers a bright and fresh wine emphasizing red fruit.
Magnetic Hill Marquette 2021: This New Brunswick wine displays sweet and savory flavors because the wine uses the Appassimento style of drying the grapes, using dried grapes instead of fresh fruit.
Other Reds From North Carolina
Round Peak Nebbiolo 2013: This North Carolina wine is subtle in its demeanor, which is why it is the winery’s signature wine.
Stony Knoll Master Exquisite Black Oak Stick Chambourcin 2019: This North Carolina wine came to fruition when they found an oak stave floating in the wine barrel. The flavor created a distinctive quality to the wine. Hence, the name Black Oak Stick became a series of wines.
Jolo Crimson Creek 2022: This North Carolina wine showcases Chambourcin as balanced, vibrant, and bright. Think berry compote meets cranberry with a pinch of mocha and baking spice.
Shelton Vineyards Two Five Nine Tannat: This North Carolina wine from the Yadkin Valley, is bold and balanced with dark fruit flavors and chocolate.
Best Wine 2023 – Red Blends
Kaena 2019 Hapa Red: a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot and Sangiovese. This wine is best described as a cosmopolitan with flavors of blackberry.
Marked Tree Watershed: This North Carolina winery’s flagship wine combines Cabernet Franc and Lemberger to deliver a wine with lovely baking spices.
Souther Williams More Shenanigans: The wine combines Cynthiana, Blaufrankish, Regent, and Cabernet Franc. As its title suggests, More Shenanigans is a fun wine offering aromas of tobacco and tart flavors of blackberry and bramble.
Best Wine 2023 – Dessert Wine
Artisan Uprising Moonlight Rising Apricot Brandy. Subtle hints of apricot are the essence of this yummy dessert wine.
Vinnie De Fruits Mistelle Honeyberry: I found a lovely fruit wine with flavors similar to blueberries.
Domaine Latitude 46 Estate Blushing Goose 2023: This dessert wine utilizes gooseberries and offers a nice balance without being overly sweet.
Domaine Latitude 46 Estate Maple Wine: This non-vintage Maple Wine ages in oak and exhibits caramel and maple flavors.
Let’s raise our glasses and cheer, say goodbye to the best wine 2023, and welcome those we try in 2024. We are grateful for the new year with its optimism, excitement, and, in this case, new wine favorites. I look forward to sharing new wine discoveries for 2024.
Happy New Year!
As typical in the wine industry, most of the wines listed in this article were hosted wine samples. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.