2023 Top Wine Picks

Raise Your Glass

A few of the Chattanooga area’s experts share their top choices for wine in 2023 – plus, tips on how to pair, pour, and savor flavor like a sommelier.

   Alison Matera WSEDIP General manager at Riverside Wine & Spirits 

Alison Matera, WSETdip
General Manager
Riverside Wine & Spirits

 

Sparkling

Domaine De L’Espérance Christian Etienne Cuvée Tradition Brut NV

Champagne, France

The “Tradition” is a very expressive champagne from the Christian Etienne house where the fruitiness of the pinot noir dominates. Etienne is a traditional man trying to do what it takes to keep his tiny nine hectares – located in the town Aube – producing extraordinary fruit. The vines are sturdy, digging deeply into the pure limestone and chalky soils surrounding the house, and they are meticulously cared for. This wine features a classic champagne nose, terrific body weight, elegant mousse, and long finish. Champagne is finally getting the recognition it deserves as a brilliant food wine.

Domaine De L’Espérance Christian Etienne Cuvée Tradition Brut NV

 

Red

Les Darons Languedoc by Jeff Carrel 2020

Languedoc, France

Grenache and Carignan have long been cultivated in Southern France and represent the “forefathers” of the Languedoc appellation’s red wines. Les Darons – made with 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 5% Carignan – is an homage showcasing these classic varietals, and it’s accessible with lots of character. Packed with ripe, red, and dark fruit aromas, this Languedoc red has plenty of spice and a streak of underlying minerality. Red wines from this region can often deliver great quality for the money, and this one is no exception.

Les Darons Languedoc by Jeff Carrel 2020

White

Cantina La-Vis Dipinti Sauvignon 2021

Trevenezie, Italy

This sauvignon blanc is grown in particularly suitable areas of high ground at the mouth of the Cembra Valley, where the daily temperature ranges help to preserve the grape’s aromatic qualities (for now). It produces clean wine with hints of green, possessing an intense bouquet reminiscent of elderberry, peach, and ripe fruit. On the palate, it’s zippy and medium-bodied with a savory mineral taste and a splendid finish of ripe fruit. This wine’s quality comes from hard work, including manual harvesting in late September and soft pressing in an inert environment. This is my favorite go-to white wine at the moment – lots of flavor at a great price!

White wine Cantina La-Vis Dipinti Sauvignon 2021.

 

Rosé

Château Fontanche Les Uyeres Rosé 2021

Saint-Chinian, France

Sitting happily in the foothills of the Cévennes is the Saint-Chinian appellation, one of the most prestigious of the Languedoc region of France. Here, the vines of the Château Fontanche are planted on the region’s limestone plateau – and the result is their spectacular rosé, made of 40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 20% Cinsault. This handcrafted wine is pale pink in color with aromas of white flower, fresh red fruits, apples, and peaches. On the palate, the wine is fruity, bright, dry, and refreshing, with a smooth texture and a lively fruity finish. I love drinking rosé year-round; it’s very versatile and food-friendly.Rosé wine Château Fontanche Les Uyeres Rosé 2021

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Brian Bullard wine manager at Imbibe Chattanooga

Brian Bullard
Wine Manager
Imbibe Chattanooga

 

Sparkling

La Collina Quaresimo Lambrusco dell’Emilia

Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Lambrusco, the sparkling red wine of northern Italy that sold its soul to the sweet wine-drinkers of the 1970s, seems to be making a comeback! Once likened to cola, producers are again making dryer, more refined, complex wines. Quaresimo, from the agricultural co-op La Collina, is a bone-dry Lambrusco made from all biodynamically farmed vineyards. The light, “frizzante”-style bubbles and the bright acidity complement the lightest pasta sauce, and the tannin structure, dark fruit notes, and full body hold up to anything you can grill. Whether you’re taking wine to a friend’s house or hosting a formal wine dinner, Quaresimo is sure to impress.

La Collina Quaresimo Lambrusco dell’Emilia

 

Red

Lecointre Rue du Pineau d’Aunis 2020

Loire Valley, France

Pineau d’Aunis, also known as Chenin Noir, was once a grape praised by European monarchs. Now it lives in relative obscurity as a blending grape for the rosés and sparkling wines of the Loire Valley. The Lecointre family, however, has produced a breathtaking single-variety expression of the grape from their estate in Champ-sur-Layon. On the nose, primary notes of strawberry and raspberry give way to cigar tobacco, cedar, pine, and truffle. On the palate, black pepper and baking spices join the aforementioned chorus. It is light-bodied and low tannin – blurring the line between accessible and complex.

Lecointre Rue du Pineau d’Aunis 2020

 

White

Tablas Creek Vineyard Roussanne 2020

Paso Robles, California

Based in the Adelaida District west of Paso Robles, Tablas Creek is a joint venture between the Haas family of Vineyard Brands and the Perrin family, proprietors of Château de Beaucastel. Tablas Creek’s 2020 Roussanne is a stunning example of what is being done in California with Rhone varieties. On the palate, this wine is rich, full-bodied, and complex with notes of pear, honeysuckle, and tropical fruit. It’s a perfect match for hearty shellfish or roasted root vegetables!

Tablas Creek Vineyard Roussanne 2020

Rosé

House of Brown Rosé 2021

Lodi, California

From Brown Estate, the first Black-owned winery in Napa, comes the House of Brown project – a line of Lodi wines more accessibly priced, produced by women of color, and certified sustainable per the “Lodi Rules.” This vibrant, dry rosé is 75% Zinfandel, 20% Muscat Blanc, and 5% Viognier. I’m an absolute sucker for aromatic white grapes, and the addition of both Muscat and Viognier make this rosé come to life. A bouquet of floral notes leap out of the glass before you’re even done pouring it. On the palate, the wine is light and refreshing with playful acidity and notes of blossom, lime, lemon rind, kumquat, and white peach – it’s easily the best rosé I’ve had this year!

House of Brown Rosé 2021

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Lauren Lamacchia at Athens Distributing

Lauren Lamacchia
Fine Wine Manager
Athens Distributing

 

Sparkling

Pol Roger Brut Réserve NV

Champagne, France

Pol Roger takes extreme pride in more than 160 years producing some of the world’s finest Champagne. Founded in 1849, Pol Roger is one of only a few Grande Marque Champagne houses that remains family owned and operated. This is a wonderful Champagne to serve to your guests – a true balanced expression of the three grape varieties allowed by law. It has rich apple fruit along with a zip of lemon zest and just a hint of juicy tangerine. The palate is round but fresh, and it has a long, steely finish that leaves you wanting another sip.

Pol Roger Brut Réserve NV

 

Red

L’Aventure Côte à Côte 2019

Paso Robles, California

L’Aventure Côte à Côte is a Grenache-dominated blend with Mourvèdre and Syrah that is aged in partially new French oak. This is a unique California red blend that only gets better as the wine opens up. The Wine Advocate states that “the 2019s are some of the finest wines they’ve tasted at this estate and have a rare mix of power and vibrancy … precision on the palate.” This red is polished and refined with a juicy core that showcases flavors of raspberry, dark cherry, and a touch of spice. Production is limited on this wine, so be sure and grab a bottle if you can. It drinks great now but can age for another 15 years.

L’Aventure Côte à Côte 2019

 

White

Domaine De La Tourmaline Muscadet 2020

Loire Valley, France

Muscadet is a dry white wine from the Loire Valley region in France and is named for the area the wine is grown. The area is in the most westerly region of the Loire, on the Atlantic coast of Brittany, and is the largest white wine appellation in France. Domaine De La Tourmaline is an incredible value Muscadet – it’s a simple, affordable wine that packs a power punch of flavor. On the nose, you’ll encounter oyster shells, lemon, and cantaloupe. This wine is medium-bodied and bone dry on the palate, with more citrus and melon flavors alongside accents of tart green apple, and amply framed by steely minerality.

Domaine De La Tourmaline Muscadet 2020

 

Rosé

Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rosé 2021

Paso Robles, California

Tablas Creek is a pioneer of California’s Rhone Movement that was founded by a friendship between two international leading wine families. The winemaking is a balance of Paso Robles techniques and traditions that were inherited from the Rhone Valley. Patelin de Tablas is what they consider their “neighborhood wine.” It is cultivated with a direct-press Grenache with additions of Mourvèdre, Counoise, and Syrah aged in stainless steel. This rosé has an explosive nose that leads to a focused palate that is well balanced with mineral and ripe red fruit notes.

Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rosé 2021

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