Renegade Wines Top 10 Wines of 2023


Renegade Wines
Top 21 of 2021

We've done it again!
After hours of contemplation, tasting and re-tasting wines, looking up wine notes and sales figures, recalling conversations from exuberant customers, we finally settled on these 10 wines. The #1 wine was easy actually (you'll see when you get there). In the meantime,

Read, Relax, and Enjoy!

And now our Top 10 of 2023:

2021 Raul Pérez Bierzo Ultreia St. Jacques

2021 Raul Pérez Bierzo Ultreia St. Jacques
(Spain, Castilla y León, Bierzo) $25

Mencia is going mainstream these days.  Once a nearly forgotten grape from the Galacia region in Spain, Mencia has made a comeback big time thanks to the unrelenting work of Raul Perez. In his hands Mencia becomes magical. Beautiful red and dark berry fruit, spiced brambly Mediterranean herbs, subtle traces of warm earth, seducing acidity, remarkable finish; a wine that drinks way above its price point.

2021 Charles Joguet Chinon Les Petites Roches

2021 Charles Joguet Chinon Les Petites Roches
(France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon) $34

Renegade joined more than 600 people who attended Kermit Lynch’s 50th Anniversary Tasting in San Francisco last year. We planned ahead, arrived early, and were startled by the line of 200+ people queuing to get in. Our plans to arrive at the ‘most sought after producers’ tables and taste their wines before it became crowded were foiled. Instead we made our way to an empty table full of wonderful whites and reds from Chinon.

Charles Joguet’s ‘Les Petites Roches’ was a quiet revelation in the noisy hall. Beautiful red berry and boysenberry fruit, salty, savory earthy notes, quietly amped acidity, and a wonderful juicy finish. Textbook in a grander-than-34-dollars sort of way. As we sampled this wine everything became quieter; not in the auditorium but from within.

It’s what we remember most about that day.

2020 Pio Cesare Langhe Chardonnay Piodilei

2020 Pio Cesare Langhe Chardonnay Piodilei
(Italy, Piedmont, Langhe) $55

It was a balmy evening in September when we hosted a Pio Cesare dinner at Olio e Limone. Guests filtered in to the private room and enjoyed a glass of sparkling before sitting down for dinner. As first courses were brought out we went around the room filling everyone’s glass with this Chardonnay.

The first bites of Vitello Tonnato and Carpaccio di Bue proved to be genius appetizers that paired with the wine exquisitely. Cesare explained how he had crafted this Chardonnay not in the Burgundy style but with an Italian heart. Lithe, fresh, beautifully textured; a Chardonnay that could overtake many a premier cru Burgundies.
It turned out to be a great surprise for many of our fellow dinners. Italian Chardonnay can be this good!


2022 Maxime Magnon Vin de France St Jacques

2022 Maxime Magnon Vin de France St Jacques
(France, Vin de France) $38

The afternoon began with a series of wine deliveries around the greater Santa Barbara area. Company on this afternoon was a GuildSomm podcast where the host Christopher Tanghe was interviewing Annie Shi of King and Jupiter restaurants in New York City about her wine program philosophy. The talk revolved around how Annie crafts her wine lists, the price points she considers sweet spots, and some of her treasured wines on these lists.

Nearing the end of the interview Christopher asked where Annie, in her down time, enjoyed drinking wine. She replied that a beautiful natural wine bar existed around the corner from where she lived. And furthermore the wine director had recently recommended what is now her new ‘absolute favorite’ wine; a wine from Maxime Magnon. A strong mental note was made. Exiting the Renegade delivery vehicle and entering Renegade one of our favorite wine reps, Kermit Lynch’s own Jenna C. greeted us. After brief hellos she exclaimed that there was a new wine we had to try, and she pointed to it on the counter.

Time didn’t stop exactly, slow down perhaps. What we were seeing was the very same wine mentioned on the GuildSomm podcast and what would become our #7 wine of 2023: Maxime Magnon’s St Jacques.
Needless to say we tasted immediately. For many moments afterwards nothing was said; there was a purity, an ethereal quality in the wine that lent itself to silence. No written notes were taken, few words spoken, just an intense focus on the experience.

2022 Viñedos Bernabeleva Vinos de Madrid Camino de Navaherreros

2022 Viñedos Bernabeleva Vinos de Madrid
Camino de Navaherreros

(Spain, Madrid, Vinos de Madrid) $22

Spanish white wines never fly off the shelf even if we’re talking about Albarino but in the Fall of 2023 we couldn’t keep this wine in stock. We’d order a case; gone in a few days. Two more cases arrive and disappeared in a few more days. The price is fair to be sure but the quality of this white wine is exceptionally refreshing, playful, inviting. All from a grape we had never heard of: Albillo.

2020 Hartmann Donà Liquid Stone Granit

2020 Hartmann Donà Liquid Stone Granit
(Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Mitterberg IGT) $35

We went out on a limb with this one. First, we had never heard of the winery. Second, we had never tried the wine, and third, the native grape, Schiava, from Alto Adige can be finicky. What sent us on this journey was an article on the Jancis Robinson website about Hartmann Dona:

“One who is igniting Schiava’s full potential is Hartmann Donà, a stern-looking man with a fascination for the variety bordering on insanity. Stone Granit grown on soils of volcanic origin. Rarely have I been more excited about red wines from Alto Adige….crystal-clear expressions…a total game-changer in the appreciation of Schiava…” Jancis Robinson

So we placed an order and crossed fingers. We were rewarded with our #5 wine of the year. Deep, dark, and brooding with lively red berry acidity for lift and granite minerality for depth. It’s an exception expression of Schiava

2022 Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso La Torrazza

2022 Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso La Torrazza
(Italy, Northern Piedmont) $24

On a late afternoon in July a sales rep. swung by to taste us on this unusual wine from Piedmont. It’s a varietal you almost never see (Erbaluce) and our only experience with the grape was a rich, low acid rendition. We were not over confident this one would make it on the shelves. Half of the tasting staff was out for dental work (Steve), the other half (Jenna) was crossing fingers that the wine would delight. “It blew my mind”, she reported later, and begged the sales rep. to leave the bottle so when all the dental side effects had passed the other half of the staff (Steve) could taste the wine too. First sip resulted in a string of compliments ending in, “three cases to start please”. It’s been on the shelves ever since to the glee of all our Italian wine lovers.

2021 Storm Wines Syrah Donnachadh Vineyard
2021 Storm Wines Syrah Donnachadh Vineyard
(Sta. Rita Hills) $52
We’ve known Ernst Storm for many years, tasting his new releases vintage after vintage, and we have to say this is the best Syrah he has made; a reminder of those great, pure expressions of Syrah that come out of the Northern Rhone. Stunning!

2022 Château Thivin Beaujolais Clos de Rochebonne
2022 Château Thivin Beaujolais Clos de Rochebonne
(France, Burgundy, Beaujolais) $35

One of the biggest surprises of 2023 was this bottle of wine. Why? Have you ever tasted Beaujolais Blanc (Chardonnay)? Our experiences have ranged between boring, dull, flat, to weird, unflattering, funky. So imagine our surprise when we first tasted this wine to determine if it was worthy to appear at our Beaujolais Dinner at Black Sheep Brasserie last November. Not only did it wow us, it held another surprise.
The night of the event this wine was brilliantly served with seared albacore. The pairing elevated both to new heights. We heard one guest exclaim “life-changing”.
Since that evening we’ve been praising the wine to anyone who would listen. From mid-November until the end of 2023, nearly 100 bottles  had left Renegade in the hands of delighted wine-lovers.

2021 Azienda Agricola Le Ragnaie Troncone Toscana IGT
2021 Azienda Agricola Le Ragnaie Troncone Toscana IGT
(Italy, Tuscany) $24

You’ve probably heard the story a few times down at Renegade: The vineyards for Troncone are above the appellation elevation limits so cannot be labeled ‘Brunello’. What Ragnaie has created instead is a brilliant expression of Sangiovese and for a steal. Full, fragrant, seducingly lovely, loaded with red berry notes, spice, undertones of earth, and a very vibrant, savory finish.
We didn’t pick this as our #1 wine, you did.
This was our best selling Red of 2023.
We would like to thank everyone for their support in 2023.
We look forward to seeing everyone in 2024 at Renegade, at our wine dinners (more on the way), and at our in-house tastings which will begin again later in February.

Call 805.568.1961  or email us to reserve your wines.
We appreciate your support!
Renegade Wines
417 Santa Barbara Street Suite A-6
Santa Barbara, CA 93101


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