Renegade Wines Top 21 Wines of 2021 Newsletter


Renegade Wines
Top 21 of 2021

Every January Renegade

compiles a Top 21 Wine List; favorites of ours and our customers from the previous year. 2023 proved to be full of excellent and exciting wines from nearly every corner of the wine making world. There was a wonderful Moschofilero from Greece, a Pecorino from Abruzzo, a delightful Carignon from the South of France. As much as we liked these three, we liked our Top 21 even more.
We begin with our #21 and proceed down to our #11.
The Top 10 will be out by week's end.
In the meantime, read, relax, and enjoy!

Lieu Dit Melon

2022 Lieu Dit Melon (Santa Maria Valley)

A Fond Farewell.
2023 saw the last of this incredible wine as the Melon de Bourgogne vines were removed from the vineyard in Santa Maria to be replaced by what we can only guess will be a more profitable varietal. This Melon from Lieu Dit was our best selling local white wine for two years in a row and our customers loved it (as did we). Our last two bottles left Renegade on December 8, 2023. We will miss this wine greatly.

Late Breaking News: Hold the presses. We just heard a rumor that this wine may be back this Spring; new vintage of course. Stay Tuned…


2022 Collestefano Verdicchio di Matelica
(Italy, Marche) $22.50

When Ian d’Agata calls Collestefano’s Verdicchio, “possibly Italy’s greatest white wine buy” we stood up and took notice. We sampled the 2022 vintage over the course of three days without the wine becoming tired. In fact on day three the wine was still fresh and alive. On day one we wrote “brisk and saline”.
24 hours later: “emerging citrus”. And then it was Saturday: “seductive exuberance”.
This was wonderful with grilled oysters and seared albacore.


2018 Meyer-Näkel Blue Slate (Germany, Ahr)

One of the best Pinot Noirs of 2023 and it comes from the tiny appellation of Ahr where two sisters are crafting some of the BEST Pinot Noirs in Europe (bold statement, we know).
We purchased this wine and many of their others after reading a heartbreaking story about a 2021 flood, the devastation at their winery, and about a community that came together (you can read about it here). When the wines arrived we broke open the Rose first and immediately knew these sisters are very special people. We waiting a few weeks before opening the 2018 Blue Slate Pinot Noir. Once we did the room filled with incredible aromas of black and blue fruit, red currant, black cherry. The first sips were super vibrant, elegant, lasting. Since that moment we’ve enjoyed many of their other wines and have never been disappointed.

Domaine Alain Normand Mâcon La Roche-Vineuse

2022 Domaine Alain Normand Mâcon La Roche-Vineuse
(France, Burgundy, Mâconnais) $26.50

What we remember about our first sip was that the purity of this Chardonnay was extraordinary. And that the finish lasted some time. There’s the immediate sensation of stony minerality that you find in Chablis, and a lemon zest / seashell mid-palate that’s enticing. The texture of the wine caresses the palate, lingering after the glass has been drained. All this adds up to one amazing White Burgundy that should cost a whole lot more.

Bruno Zanasi Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro
2021 Bruno Zanasi Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro
(Italy, Emilia-Romagna) $22

Chalk this up to ‘You Never Know Until You Taste’. We had not enjoyed a great Lambrusco in years; not even a really good one. They have been either thin and unattractive or syrup-like with a sweet-tart edge. Sometime last Spring one of our regulars asked if we could order a specific bottle of wine; this wine from Bruno Zanasi. We brought in a case and sold one bottle. Weeks went by and there the wine sat on the shelf until we finally summoned the courage to taste it.

Lightbulbs! It was magnificent; a masterpiece that had all the groovy class and balance. A fresh, enchanting, dry red sparkler, with aromas of violets, strawberries, fresh plums, black cherries plus hints of beautiful garden soil. Perfectly balanced and worthy of a charcuterie spread or of course Pepperoni Pizza.
Needless to say after our lightbulb moment this bottle was highly recommended to all (and still is).
Pauillac by Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste

2016 Pauillac by Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste
(France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac) $44

This is the second label from 5th growth producer Grand-Puy-Lacoste. But what exactly is a ‘second label’? Generally it’s a wine produced from younger vines, using less oak in a shorter amount of time. It’s a wine that will show you the style of the winery at a fraction of the price of their number one wine. It won’t age as well as Grand-Puy-Lacoste but you can thoroughly enjoy it today.

Last Summer when the BBQs were burning hot weekend after weekend this was the favorite Bordeaux for those in the know. Medium to full body with vibrant black and red fruit, rose petals and graphite, all very engaging with supple acid and a long, stirring finish. Energized and well balanced.

Nicolas Rossignol Bourgogne-Aligoté
 2021 Nicolas Rossignol Bourgogne-Aligoté
(France, Burgundy) $42
Aligote is the forgotten grape of Burgundy where Chardonnay receives all the attention. That is, until now. Nicolas has created something special here; taking Aligote in to the realm of premier-cru-worthy praise. It’s a wine we suggested to many patrons in 2023 always accompanied by this advice: give it a little time to open up in the glass. Most everyone returned for another bottle or two.

Vine age is a factor here, planted in 1933 as is Nicolas’s decision to age in barrel with a small portion of new oak. It adds a mighty texture to the wine and a depth not achieved even by Villaine’s Aligoté from Bouzeron.

We enjoyed this wine with grilled swordfish, roast chicken, really great French fries (yes!), and the last time we sipped on a glass it was with a selection of cheeses that Santa Barbara's best, The Cheese Shop recommended.

Xarmant Arabako Txakolina
2022 Xarmant Arabako Txakolina
(Spain, País Vasco, Arabako Txakolina) $25

We admit it. The label is what drew us to this wine in the first place. Colorful, festive, lively. Then we sampled the wine inside and were hooked. Where tradition in Txakolina is for white wines to have a slight spritz to them, this white wine is completely still by choice of the winery. They are aiming for a slightly more serious wine with depth, structure, and pose, but with a whimsical flair at the same time. They succeeded in spades.

Dragonette Cellars Chardonnay Rita's Crown Vineyard
2021 Dragonette Cellars Chardonnay Rita's Crown Vineyard
(Sta. Rita Hills) $65

Sometimes luck is on your side. Like when Brandon (from Dragonette) and Daniel (everyone knows Daniel) strolled through the door with this bottle in their bag. With a minimal exchange of words they poured, we sipped. Marvelous came to mind, exotic, structure, balance, mind-numbing too. We joked, ’97 points at least’. Daniel replied, “97 points exactly; Galloni’s rating was just released”.

Here’s Galloni’s review:
“The 2021 Chardonnay Rita's Crown Vineyard is magnificent. Soaring aromatics and fine, sculpted fruit are among the signatures of this superb, pedigreed Chardonnay. The purity of the flavors is just striking. Deceptively medium in body, with tons of intensity, the Rita's Crown is one of the most compelling wines from Santa Barbara I tasted this year.”
We couldn’t have said it better.

Parigot & Richard Crémant de Bourgogne La Sentinelle
Parigot & Richard Crémant de Bourgogne La Sentinelle
(France, Burgundy, Crémant de Bourgogne) $36
We first discovered this sparkling sensation on a rainy afternoon at Les Deux Magots in Paris years ago. We learned from the actually-very-nice-waiter that Parigot & Richard is based in Savigny-lès-Beaune, in Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune, and sources fruit from vineyards in the Côte de Nuits as well as Savigny-lès-Beaune. After the first glass we nearly forgot about that other sparkling region.
A fantastic bottle of bubbles that approaches the quality of good Champagne without the price tag.
Let’s hear it for Sparkling Burgundy!

Cantina Terlan Sauvignon Terlano Winkl
2022 Cantina Terlan Sauvignon Terlano Winkl
(Italy, Trentino-Alto Adig) $42

If you’ve drunk your fill of Sancerre why not try our #11 WOTY? Not only is Terlano widely considered the best white wine producer in Italy, it’s one of our favorite Sauvignon. A mouthwatering white, with vivacious acidity, juicy notes of apricot, mandarin and passion fruit, lots of good mineralized energy, and a beautiful aromatic finish.

Top 10 of 2023


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