Favorite Wines of 2023

by artfuldiner on January 29, 2024

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Wine

Wine 3Once again, 2023 was a great year for wine tasting. Of the slew of wines sampled, from a variety of different countries, the 8 listed below – 4 white; 4 red – are particularly recommended.

Please note that prices quoted are approximate, depending upon where the wines are purchased; and, of course, all are subject to change. The prices in states other than Pennsylvania can vary significantly from retailer to retailer. So, it would certainly be to your advantage to spend some time surfing online for the best price point.



 2021 Cadre Band of Stones Grüner Veltliner (California): While Austria is known as the home of the finest Grüner Veltliner, I freely confess that Cadre Band of Stones Gruner 2021I much prefer this version from California’s Edna Valley. Not only does it possess infinitely more body than many of its Austrian cousins, but it also hits you with less acidity. This wine is also highly rated – 92 points from Wine Enthusiast; 91 points from Wilfred Wong of Wine.com – and readily available from Pennsylvania State Stores. So, when you begin to tire of those over-oaked California chards, but still want a wine with plenty of body and texture, the 2021 Cadre Band of Stones may be just your ticket. And, priced at $15.99, its also less expensive than it Austrian siblings.

 2022 Forrester, Ken Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc (South Africa): In March 2023, I visited Ken Ken ForresterForrester Wines, considered by locals and wine loves alike, the home of Chenin Blanc. The man himself, affectionally known as “Mr. Chenin Blanc,” is reputed to be just as dynamic as the grape he so fervently champions. I tasted four wines during my visit… and the standout (and most reasonably priced & readily available) continues to be the Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc. While I sampled the 2022, the 2021 and 2020 are also excellent vintages. So, feel free to snatch up whatever may be available from various sources online. Priced in the $18.00 – $20.00 range.

 2020 Trimbach Riesling Reserve (Alsace, France): Structured, bone dry, and delightfully fruity, the 2020 Trimbach- WineryReserve is finesse personified. Wine writer James Suckling bestowed 94 points, referring to the “super-ripe lemon, fresh pineapple and herb aromas… of this medium-bodied, concentrated and sophisticated dry Riesling… and the excellent balance at the long, very clean finish.” Priced at $33.99 at your local State Store. The lowest price I have seen online is from the Saratoga Wine Exchange: $27.94 (plus shipping). If you’d prefer a slightly lower priced wine, I would suggest the 2020 Trimbach Riesling, $23.89 at State Stores; lowest price online: $19.99 (plus shipping) at Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in New Jersey.

2020 Zacharias Assyrtiko (Greece): Among the little-known grape varieties of Greece, Assyrtiko has been by far the most popular among Greek whites. Zacharias Assyrtiko 2020Although originating on the Island of Santorini, it is now planted across mainland Greece, becoming one of the most important native varietals. It produces mainly dry white wines, some of which are aged in oak. The 2020 Zacharias Assyrtiko is characterized by light yellow color and aromas of yellow fruits and lemon flowers. It is bone-dry with distinctive character, excellent structure, and crisp acidity. It is pleasant to drink young; however, it also ages well – from five to ten years, sometimes significantly longer – developing aromas and flavors of ripe fruits, honey, and intense minerality. This is not, unfortunately, available through Pennsylvania State Stores. The best price I have discovered online is $10.95 (plus shipping) from Shoppers Vineyard in Clifton, New Jersey.



 2021 Barista Pinotage (South Africa): Produced by legendary South African winemaker Bertus Fourie, the 2021 Barista Pinotage is its own unique Barista Pinotage 2021oenological treasure. It is a deliberately & distinctly modern interpretation of South Africa’s signature grape; and will undoubtedly remind most wine lovers of a top-notch Pinot Noir. Nuances of vanilla and mocha and silky-smooth tannins make this a completely accessible wine that is ready to be enjoyed. Readily available from a variety of sources, it is currently priced at $15.59 at Pennsylvania State Stores.

2019 Château Brun Despagne Querre Bordeaux Supérieur (France): The Bordeaux Supérieur I have Bordeaux Superieur - Imageenjoyed on a regular basis is the 2019 Château Brun Despagne Querre, an enticing blend of 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Garnering 91 points from James Suckling, this medium-bodied every-day quaffer is lusciously textured, alive with sweet dark fruit, and pure pleasure in the glass. But the best part of the 2019 Bordeaux Supérieur wines, as one writer put is, is that “every one of them sells for a song.” The 2019 Château Brun Despagne Querre, for example, is currently on sale at Pennsylvania State Stores at $8.99 per bottle (a dollar or two more at Total Wines).

 2018 Manzanos 111 Reserva Red Rioja (Spain): Hailing from Bodegas Manzanos, one of Spain’s largest producers, the 2018 111 Reserva, like all Manzanos Wines - Reserva Rioja 2018red Riojas, is a blended wine of predominately Tempranillo supplemented by smaller percentages of Garnacha, Mazuelo, and Graciano. As a Reserva, it has also been aged for three years (one of which was in barrel) before release. And although it received 93 points from Mike DeSimone of Wine Enthusiast, I think that score could have been even a few notches higher, as this wine is incredibly opulent, delightfully complex, and as smooth as silk on the palate. In addition, although the suggested retail price is $45.00, it is currently on sale from various sources online and also available in Pennsylvania at a paltry $12.99.

2020 Vinha da Coutada Velha (Portugal): This wine hails from Portugal and is an intriguing blend of Aragonez – a Vinha Da Coutada Velha 2020Portuguese name for Tempranillo, Tincadeira, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon, combining native grapes with international varieties. The pleasing result is a marvelously spicy mix of red and dark fruit flavors backed by an intriguing earthiness. The Wine Enthusiast bestowed 92 points, noting its smooth & powerful finish and potential longevity, while the Washington Post called it a “great value.” Priced at a mere $9.99 at your local State Store, it is a bargain, indeed.

Bon Appétit & Cheers!


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