Time flies, as the saying goes, but can we just collectively admit that 2022 flew by quicker than most other years? At the top of 2022, I recall writing out silly Valentine’s Day cards for friends and ordering seeds for the coming spring. Then, I blinked, and it was suddenly the autumn and pumpkins started to appear on front porches around our neighborhood.

The consensus seems to be that life as we know it changed around the time the first lockdown started. Flash-forward nearly three years and I’m even more confused than I was then. Even though I rarely check the news cycle, have sworn off social media, and am slowly (albeit begrudgingly) weaning myself off the Housewives franchise, modern life is still a source of sometimes profound anxiety. Alas, at least we have wine, a resplendent beverage that softens the harsh edges of this world. Taken in the genteel company of friends, a better repast is hard to imagine.

This year brought great opportunities to discover new wines and revisit old enological friends. It was also the year to dip one’s toes back into the socializing waters. I did this with conviction in 2022, attending numerous wine events and countless trade tastings. A retrospective tasting of the first decade of Kimsey estate wines, from Santa Barbara County’s Ballard Canyon, proved breathtaking, as did the other wines of winemaker Matt Dees (Jonata, The Hilt, Kimsey, Mail Road), whose The Hilt Chardonnay clocked in as my wine of the year. I had it at the estate and will admit it was an emotional experience. It’s an absolutely riveting expression of California Chardonnay.

Here’s to another vintage nearly under the belt.

  1. 2020 Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County, CA

       Fresh-cut honeydew melon. Lemon zest. $14.00

  1. 2020 Herdade do Esporão Bico Amarelo Vinho Verde, Minho, PT

       Oyster shells. Sea salt. Sunshine. $12.00

  1. 2021 Grounded by Josh Phelps Sauvignon Blanc, CA

       Lime zest. Asian pear. Coastal breezes. $15.00

  1. NV William Chris Wanderer Series: Relief Project III, TX

      Juicy. Rustic. Satisfying. $40.00

  1. 2021 Nowadays Alicante Bouchet, Santa Barbara, CA

      Brightly dark. Acidity. Freshness. $30.00

  1. 2020 Left Foot Charley Skin-Fermented Pinot Gris, Old Mission Peninsula, MI

      Pretty oddity. Fragrant. Memorable. $28.00

  1. 2021 Foris Dry Gewurztraminer Estate, Rogue Valley, OR

       Sunflower. Lifted. Fun. $17.00

  1. 2017 Crocker & Starr Blancs de Noir, Napa Valley, CA

       Classic. Underrated. Elegant. $64.00

  1. 2020 Gundlach Bundschu Zinfandel Rancho Agua Caliente, Sonoma Valley, CA

       Profound. Restrained. Pleasing. $53.00

  1. 2021 Edio Grenache Delfino Farms Vineyard, El Dorado, CA

      Alive. Mountain perfume. Precise. $40.00

  1. 2021 Maitre de Chai Kierkegaard Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg, CA

      Thoughtful. Solitude. Lift. $28.00

  1. 2019 Keep Wines Albarino Lost Slough Vineyard, Sacramento River Delta, CA

       Refreshing. Oceanic. Siren’s call. $28.00

  1. 2020 Story of Soil Syrah Duvarita Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills, CA

      Coastal. Balanced. Sharp, brisk chaparral. $55.00

  1. 2020 Anthill Farms Mixed Blacks Peugh Vineyard, Sonoma Valley, CA

      Unbridled. Spirited. Food-appropriate. $45.00

  1. 2019 Radio-Coteau Syrah Las Colinas, Sonoma Coast, CA

      Raven beauty. Full moon. Focused. $55.00

  1. 2019 Round Pond Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, Napa Valley, CA

      Over-performing. Lovely. Geraniums in the sun. $80.00

  1. 2019 James Cole Mud’s Kitchen Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, CA

      Rich. Emblematic. Delicious. $185.00

  1. 2021 Caduceus Nagual del Marzo Rosé, Cornville, AZ

       Unpredictable. Nuanced. Age-worthy. $40.00

  1. 2017 Domaine de Rocheville La Favorite Crémant de Loire, Loire, FR

      Dancing. Romantic. Bubbles. $20.00

  1. 2020 Alma Rosa Syrah El Jabali Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills, CA

      Blood from a stone. Cool climate. Dreamy. $68.00

  1. 2019 Lindquist Family Sonnie’s Syrah Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard, Edna Valley, CA

      Biodynamic. Stars in the night sky. Cool autumn morning. $75.00

  1. 2021 Stars & Dust Crowded Table Rose, Santa Ynez Valley, CA

       Kaleidoscopic. Bright jewel. Quaffable.  $28.00

  1. 2019 La Marea Grenache, Central Coast, CA

      Vivid. Flowers and wind. Length. $30.00

  1. 2019 Big Basin Old Vine Carignane Wirz Vineyard, Cienega Valley, CA

       Mountain limestone. Sky through the canopy. Crunchy loveliness. $36.00

  1. 2019 Boeger Winery Rosa Canina Zinfandel, El Dorado, CA

       Mysterious. Alpine. Lineage. $24.00

  1. 2021 Little Frances Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg, CA

      Ageworthy. Unexpected. Artful. $48.00

  1. 2019 Seabold Grenache Blanc Mission Ranch Vineyard, Monterey County, CA

      Spicy. River rocks. Sunlight on a stream. $40.00

  1. 2021 Alta Colina Carbonic Grenache, Paso Robles, CA

      Unstoppable. Celebratory. Wildflowers at the Carrizo Plain. $38.00

  1. 2021 Lorenza Picpoul Blanc, Lodi, CA

       Game for anything. White linens in the sun. Oysters in Tamales Bay. $28.00

  1. 2019 Carboy Blanc La La La, Grand Valley, CO

      Party in waiting. Sunset behind the mountains. Vetiver. $29.00

  1. 2019 Aridus Graciano, Wilcox Bench, AZ

      Heady. Warm blueberry compote. Powerful. $46.00

  1. 2020 Matthiasson Cabernet Franc Estate, Napa Valley

      Chinon-inspired. Beguiling. Transformative. $59.00

  1. 2020 Ruth Lewandowski Wines Chilion Skin-Contact Cortese, Mendocino, CA

      Colorful. Skipping through a meadow. Aromatically compelling. $35.00

  1. 2019 Kimsey White, Ballard Canyon, Santa Barbara, CA

      Rhône-inspired beauty. Apricot. Spanish poppies in the sunlight. $60.00

  1. 2019 Mount Abora Koggelbos Chenin Blanc, Bot River, South Africa

       Campari recollections. Breezy. Effortless. $10.00

  1. 2020 Brewer-Clifton Chardonnay Machado Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills, CA

      Cerebral. Pacific. Saline breezes. $65.00

  1. 2019 Peake Ranch Syrah John Sebastiano Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills, CA

      Cornas-inspired. Graphite. Heart of the rose. $75.00

  1. 2019 Andrew Murray Vineyards Syrah Watch Hill Vineyard, Santa Barbara, CA

       Purple flowers. Petrichor. Moonlight. $55.00

  1. 2020 Hubba Wines Dreamland, Central Coast, CA

       Palate music. Confident. Pleasurable. $50.00

  1. 2019 Force Majeure Syrah, Red Mountain, WA

      Iron rich. Nuanced. Depth of character. $85.00

  1. 2019 Calera Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir Ryan Vineyard, Cienega Valley, CA

      Lithe. Luminous. Floral. $85.00

  1. 2019 Haliotide Extra Brut Rosé, Topotero Vineyard, San Luis Obispo. CA

      Unmistakable. Regal. Tangerine dream. $75.00

  1. 2019 Madrona Gewurtraminer Hillside, El Dorado, CA

      Lightly toasted brioche. Cold snap. Casual. $18.00

  1. 2019 Matt Morris Charbono Shypoke Vineyard, Napa Valley, CA

      Interstellar. Misty orange grove at dawn. Obsidian. $85.00

  1. 2019 Paula Kornell Blanc de Noirs, Napa Valley, CA

      Meyer lemon zest. Hazelnuts. Misty beach stroll. $50.00

  1. 2018 Villa Creek Rocks & Flowers, Paso Robles, CA

      City streets after a rain. Bing Cherry. Backyard plum. $46.00

  1. 2021 Storm Cellars Rosé of St. Vincent, Paonia, CO

      Orange blossom. Rose petals. Cracked stones. $25.00

  1. 2019 Cru de Clos Clos de Sequoya Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, CA

      Redwood bark. Violets. Dark cherries. $350.00

  1. 2019 The Hilt Estate Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills, CA

      Sea spray. Cold night in Yosemite. Kumquat. $ 50.00



By R.H. Drexel
Contributing Writer
More articles by R.H.