Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Top Ten Wines of 2022

What were some of my favorite wines of the past year?

As 2023 approaches, it's time to reflect upon the past year, to remember and savor pleasant memories. As 2022 winds down, I'll be posting my annual series of Favorite Lists over the next few weeks, covering food, wine, spirits and other drinks. These lists should provide a comprehensive summary of my favorites from this past year, allowing my readers to more readily locate such gems, the best of my recommendations. My first Favorites List of 2022 is my Top Ten Wines.

This list includes wines that not only I enjoyed, but which I also found to be particularly compelling for various reasons. They might be especially delicious, something more unique or just excellent values for the price. They all stand out, for some particular reason, above the other wines that I've tasted this past year. This list also includes only wines I reviewed on my blog, although I tasted some excellent wines that I didn't write about. Those wines might be mentioned elsewhere in my Favorites lists. 

Please note that this list doesn't include any of the 350 Croatian wines I tasted on this year's journey to that fascinating country. Those Croatian wines deserve their own list. However, a couple Croatian wines are on this list, as I tasted them months before I traveled to Croatia. 

This is a purely subjective list, based on my own preferences, and makes no claims about being the "best" wines out there. It is primarily the wines which spoke to me the loudest, even when they were subtle wines. These are all wines that I strongly recommend and which I believe many other wine lovers would also enjoy.

The wines are not listed in any particular order and each choice is linked to my more detailed prior review. All of these value wines are worth your consideration but please also note that the prices are approximations and the actual price may vary in your area. In addition, some of the wines might not be available in your local region, though you might be able to order them from the winery or an online store, dependent on your state's shipping laws.


1) 2019 Duca di Salaparuta 'Kados' Grillo ($18)
At a Sicilian wine dinner at A Tavola in Winchester, one of my favorite Italian restaurants, I enjoyed several wines which made it onto this Favorites list. The first is the Kados, made from 100% Grillo, a white grape that is commonly used on Sicily, especially for producing Marsala wine. More frequently now, it's also being produced on its own, as a still white wine. About 55% of the wine was fermented in small oak casks for about forty days, and the entire wine aged in the bottle for at least three months. With about a 13% ABV, this wine had a pleasing nose of citrus and floral notes, and on the palate, it was bright, fresh and crisp, with tasty notes of citrus and a little salinity. An excellent wine for seafood, and it was a nice companion to Jonah crab. 

2) 2018 Duca di Salaparuta 'Làvico' Nerello Mascalese ($25)
Also from the A Tavola Sicilian wine dinner, this wine was made from 100% Nerello Mascalese, a red grape that is predominantly found on Sicily. The grapes for this wine were grown on the slopes of Mount Etna, at an altitude of about 600-800 meters. The wine was aged for at least 12 months in small, fine oak casks, and had about a 13.5% ABV. In some respects, this wine resembled Pinot Noir, being light bodied with bright cherry flavors, but this wine also had some intriguing notes of cranberry, a touch of balsamic, and some subtle herbal notes. Overall, it was complex and silky smooth, well balanced, with lots of acidity and possessed of a lengthy and pleasant finish. Absolutely delicious and highly recommended. 

3) 2017 Duca di Salaparuta 'Duca Enrico' Nero d'Avola ($50)
Also from the A Tavola Sicilian wine dinner, this is the flagship wine of this winery and an icon in Sicily. It was the first 100% Nero d’Avola label, in 1984, in the history of Sicilian wine. It was aged for at least 18 months in fine oak casks and then another 18 months in the bottle. With about a 14.5% ABV, this wine possessed an alluring aroma of black fruits, mild floral notes, and subtle spices. On the palate, it was complex and engaging, compelling and delicious. Notes of blackberry and ripe plum, subtle spices, earthy notes, smooth tannins, good acidity, and a lingering finish. A superb wine that was bold yet restrained, silky and mesmerizing. Highly recommended and well worth the splurge! 

Also from the A Tavola Sicilian wine dinner, this Marsala was produced from 100% Grillo, and was aged for at least seven years in Slavonian, 1800-liter oak barrels. Florio is the oldest Marsala house on Sicily. With a 19% ABV, it had a bright amber color and on the nose it reminded me strongly of an aged Amontillado Sherry. On the palate, it continued to remind me of Amontillado, with notes of dried fruit, citrus notes, a subtle nuttiness, and a mild sweetness. Such an intriguing and delicious wine, it opened up my eyes to the potential of Marsala. Highly recommended!  And I definitely need to drink more Marsala wine in 2023.

5) 2021 Esporão Bico Amarelo ($12)
It's no surprise to see Portuguese wines on this list. And previous vintages of this wine, and the next one, ended up on prior Favorites lists. This wine was a blend of 40% Loureiro (from Quinta do Ameal) and 30% each of Alvarinho de Monção e Melgaço and Avesso de Baião. It possessed an 11% ABV, which is slightly less than the previous vintage. In addition, the wine remains in contact with the lees for 4-6 months, rather than only 3-4 months as in the previous vintage. For this vintage, the flavor profile was similar to the previous wine, except there was a slightly richer body feel to the wine. Again though, it was still light and refreshing, with bright notes of lemon, citrus and floral elements. It's an easy drinking wine, a true crowd pleaser, and works well on its own or paired with seafood or other light dishes. 
This wine is is very similar to the previous vintage, produced from 100% Loureiro (from 20 year old vines) which sits on the lees in stainless steel for about 7 months and has a 11.5% ABV. My previous tasting note for this wine was: "I fell in love with this wine from the first sip. It possessed an intriguing nose, stone fruits and floral elements, and on the palate, its complexity and rich flavors burst through. It was crisp, fresh and dry, with a delightful melange of citrus, peach, floral notes, minerality and subtle herbal touches. This wine was well-balanced with a lengthy and delicious finish. This wine would also be perfect on its own, or paired with seafood or similar lighter dishes." It's difficult to add anything to this description as it's still appropriate for the new vintage, and I don't think there is really any significant difference with the new vintage. It remains an amazing wine, one which thoroughly impressed me. At $18, this is a very good value and I'd highly recommend buying this wine by the case.

While dining at an excellent Italian restaurant in Nova Scotia, we enjoyed a bottle of this wine with dinner. Made from 100% Nebbiolo, the wine spent about 12 months in steel, oak, and the bottle. This was a tasty wine with flavors of bright red fruits, violet notes, restrained tannins, good acidity, and a lengthy finish. A very good food wine.

8) 2018 La Tintorera “Kira-9” Rosado ($20-$25)
At a dinner at Nightshade Noodle Bar, another one of my top favorite restaurants, I loved this intriguing Spanish Rosé. It was made from 95% Mencia and 5% Dona Blanca, fermented and aged in stainless steel. Delicious, dry, and full of bright red fruit flavors. Easy drinking and very food friendly, it went well with the various dishes we enjoyed. Great summer choice!

9) 2019 Black Island Merga Victa Pošip ($25)
From a winery on the island of Korčula, this wine was produced from 100% Pošip and had a 13.5% ABV. On the nose, there were delightful notes of stone fruits, citrus and floral elements. When I tasted this wine, it was intriguing and delicious, fresh and crisp, with a nice melange of flavors, including peach, pear, and orange, accompanied by a prominent floral aspect with herbal notes. It's probably the most floral Pošip I've ever tasted, and reminded me in some aspects to Viognier, Muscat and Gewurtztraminer. The finish was long and pleasant, and overall, the wine was nicely balanced and compelling.

10) 2020 Fakin Malvazija Istarska ($29)
Made from 100% Malvazija Istarska, this wine also had a 13% ABV and spent about six months aging in stainless steel. On the nose, it had an alluring nose of peach, herbs and spices. On the palate, it ws fresh, dry and crisp, with delicious citrus and stone fruit flavors, spice notes, a mild floral element and a backbone of minerality. It was medium bodied, with a very pleasing finish, and was certainly enjoyable on its own although it would pair well with food as well. I would like to try this wine with oysters or a light chicken dish, or maybe even some Asian cuisine.


Four countries made the list this year, with Italy in first place, occupying five spots on the list. Portugal and Croatia occupied two spots, while Spain occupied one spot. As for wine types, the list is also broken down into one Rosé, five Whites, three Reds, and one Fortified Wine. I have other wine recommendations on my blog and you just have to search for them.

If you have some of your own recommendations for excellent wines you've enjoyed in 2022, please add them to the comments.

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