Every December, as I think back on the wines I most enjoyed over the course of the year, I wrestle with the word “best.”
What does it even mean? The best tend to be the most memorable, wines that not only offer great pleasure but perfectly fit the circumstances of their consumption. With that in mind, these 12 bottles stand out as the year’s most memorable.
Here they are, in order of their age.
Cà dei Zago Valdobbiadene Mariarosa Frizzante 2022
At a recent meal at La Tavernaccia in Rome, a casual trattoria with an excellent wine list, the sommelier suggested this natural, lightly sparkling wine that comes from Prosecco territory but bore no resemblance to ordinary Prosecco.
Unlike most large Prosecco producers, Cà dei Zago farms organically, with special attention to soil health, and makes the wines carefully and conscientiously. It supplements glera, the main Prosecco grape, with little known indigenous varieties, rather than commonly used international grapes like chardonnay. The wine was lively, savory and delicious.
Emrich-Schönleber Nahe Monziger Riesling Kabinett 2021
The classic German kabinett style — lightly sweet, delicate, almost fragile rieslings — was one of my favorites in the 1980s and ’90s. As the climate has warmed, grapes ripen much faster nowadays, and the style has given way to sweeter, richer wines.
But the cool, wet ’21 vintage was a throwback to the years before climate change, and a classic kabinett was possible again. Among a group of exceptional wines I wrote about in March, the Emrich-Schönleber stuck with me for its combination of delicacy and intensity.