Holy Moly, 2021 was weird. Perhaps it seemed especially so after living through the shit-show that was 2020. Maybe life would begin to feel normal again after so much was upended? Alas, if the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that life is never quite normal, it only seems that way to us when things are going relatively smoothly. But life has always been beautiful and brutal and the most we can do is hang on for the ride, enjoy the good times while they last, and go through the rough times with some modicum of strength, calm and courage. Oh, yeah, and wine, too. Wine sure as heck helps!

The most memorable wines I personally enjoyed in 2021 were consumed within a somewhat nostalgic and bittersweet context: if we couldn’t always travel with ease, were concerned about political divisiveness, worried about climate change and inflation, and so much more – well, we could at least spend a couple of hours with a trusted friend over a good bottle of wine and share some laughs. My top 25 wines of 2021 list reflects the wines that suspended, at least for a time, any concerns, and brought much pleasure.

 

  1. Domaine Bousquet Charmat Brut Rosé / Uco Valley, Argentina / $13        

          Unassuming. Bright. Over-performing.

  1. Sans Wine Co. / Carbonic Carignan /Mendocino County / $72.00 (6 cans)

          Casual. Coastal. Chilly is Best.

  1. 2016 Hoopes Sophie’s Block Syrah / Oak Knoll, Napa Valley/ $60.00

          Inviting. Layered. A Darkened Pretty.

  1. 2018 Monochrome “Mix and Match” / Paso Robles / California / $41.00

          White Flowers. Autumn Night Bike Ride Through Wet City Streets. Lime.

  1. 2017 Boeger Winery Aglianico / El Dorado / California / $27.00

          Balanced. Cool Pine Breezes. Purposeful Red. 

  1. 2017 Ravines Dry Riesling / Finger Lakes / New York / $23.00

          Lifted. Bracing. Orange Grove in Full Blossom.

  1. 2018 The Hilt Estate Chardonnay / Sta. Rita Hills / California / $65.00

          Restraint & Pleasure. Kinetic. Exotic Citrus.

  1. 2017 Adega de Borba Premium Red / Alentejo / Portugal / $15.00

          Rustic. Confident. Food Please.

  1. 2018 Haliotide Extra Brut Rose / Topotero Vineyard / SLO / $75.00

          Fresh-Cut Grapefruit by the Sea. Windy Brightness. Hazelnuts.

  1. 2020 Edio “Oliver’s” Chardonnay /El Dorado / $36.00

          Crisp. Modern. Mountain Fruit.

  1. 2018 Matt Morris Charbono /Tofanelli Vineyard / Calistoga / $85.00

          Dark Galaxies. Blueberries in the Rain. Wet Stones.

  1. 2017 Potek Pinot Noir / Rita’s Crown / Sta. Rita Hills/ California/ $68.00

          Ruminative. The Saline Pacific. Age-worthy.

  1. 2019 Starfield Vineyards Cinsault / El Dorado / California / $32.00

          Cold Mountain Fog.  Lavender Pastilles. Conifer.

  1. 2020 Herdade do Esporão Reserva White / Alentejo / Portugal / $20.00

          The Bracing Atlantic. Breezy. Satisfying.

  1. 2019 Bedrock W.C. Heritage Wine / Enz Vineyard / Cienega Valley /$45.00

          Mourtaou Mystery. Historic. Pink Peppercorns.

  1. 2020 Birichino Vermentino / Mahoney Ranch Vineyard / Napa / $24.00

          Positively Ligurian. Bright. Fresh Basil.

  1. 2020 Madrona Riesling “Hillside” / El Dorado / California / $18.00

          Charming. Apricot Stone. High Elevation. 

  1. 2018 Jada Vineyard “Strayts” / Paso Robles / California / $67.00

          Wild Sage. Underbrush. Black Cherry Meat.

  1. 2018 Chateau Musar Rose / Bekaa Valley, Lebanon / $36.00

          Mysterious. Layered. Juicy.

  1. 2018 Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc / California / $30.00

          Vital. Particular. Delightful.

  1. 2019 Alma Rosa “Attente” / Sta. Rita Hills / California / $85.00

          Bay Leaves. Sea Mist. Dark Fruits Growing in a Forest.

  1. 2019 Drew Syrah / Perli Vineyard / Mendocino Ridge / California / $55.00

          Sanguine. Oceanic. Picholines.

  1. 2017 Piro Pinot Noir / Presqu’ile / Santa Maria Valley / California / $44.00

          Refreshing. Canopy of Oaks & Lichen. Violets.

  1. Chateau Simone Palette Blanc / Provence / France / $60.00

          Trippy. Sublime. Unstoppable.

  1. 2019 Palladius by the Sadie Family / Swartland / South Africa / $150.00

          Alchemical blend. Manna. Unmatched.