Sommelier Roundtable: What Was the Best Wine You Drank in 2022?

11 top wine pros shared which bottles were the highlight of their year

Sommelier Roundtable: What Was the Best Wine You Drank in 2022?
From bottles poured at decadent dinners to refreshing glasses drunk after a hard day of vineyard work, certain wines remained memorable long after they were consumed. (Getty Images)
Jan 13, 2023

Working in the wine industry, almost every day brings a new bottle. Some are delicious, others are duds, but then there are the bottles that never leave your mind. As wine pros resumed traveling, attending wine events and socializing in general, sommeliers got to uncork some pretty choice bottles throughout 2022. Wine Specatator asked 11 somms from across the country which were the best wines they drank in 2022, from bottles shared with friends to decades-old vintages pulled from the cellar.

Wine Spectator: What was the best wine you drank in 2022?

Steven McDonald, executive beverage director for Grand Award–winning Pappas Bros. Steakhouses in Dallas and Houston

We are very lucky to have a deep cellar at the restaurant and a generous collector community. It would probably have to be the Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo 1964—a hauntingly beautiful example of mature Barolo.

 Portrait of Laura Bruno with a glass of wine, flanked by eight different bottles of wine.
Laura Bruno's favorite sips of 2022 included wines from Bordeaux to Napa, and Piedmont to the Adelaide hills.  (Courtesy of Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain)

Laura Bruno, sommelier at Best Award of Excellence winner Elements in Paradise Valley, Ariz.

I have felt very blessed with all of the tasting opportunities I’ve had in 2022. Asking me to highlight just one is difficult, so I’ll give you my top three. I got to share a bottle of 2017 Domaine Ponsot Corton-Charlemagne with John Williams from Frog’s Leap. I ate Caesar salad and laughed really hard with my best friend while splitting a bottle of 1996 Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso. And lastly I was invited to Le Bernardin to taste through 20 vintages of Château Le Puy Emilien. The best vintages were ’64, ’77, ’98, and ’05! Also I’d like to give honorable mentions to 2015 Ochota Barrels A Sense of Compression [Grenache] and 2009 Pelissero Long Now.

Kristin Courville, wine director at Ernesto’s in New York City

I spent time working harvest and exploring Andalusia this year, further fueling my passion for biologically aged wines. I found the Sherry triangle robust and buzzing with the reemergence of long-forgotten winemaking traditions [in Jerez]. During my time there, I drank some of the best Sherries and wines I have ever had, and the wines from Bodega de Forlong truly sparked my wine-loving heart. I will never forget that first time I tasted Vidueños 2016, a great collaborative project between Forlong and the Enramistas Sherry Club. This beauty dances between a white wine and a Sherry and has encouraged me to continually honor and explore the diverse and complex puzzle that flor presents. The time I spent with the Forlong family and Nick from Enramistas is truly a time in my life that I will never forget and to be able to revisit that trip through the lens of a bottle of wine is truly special.

Mike Lee, wine director at Grand Award winner La Toque, in Napa, Calif..

There are two that fight for the top spot: from the Old World, 1970 Gaja Barbaresco (absolutely ethereal) and from the New World, 1999 Cobb Coastlands Pinot Noir—Ross Cobb’s second vintage, if I remember correctly!

John McKenna, beverage director at l’abeille, New York City

A bottle of Château Margaux 2003 I opened with my partner for my birthday. It's a regular fixture wine on lists I'm working with but a rarity to actually enjoy a full bottle. Sharing it with my partner felt like a true celebration.

 Portrait of Aaron Thompson, sitting at a booth with a spritz in front of him.
Aaron Thompson's restaurants bring Italian apertivo culture to eastern Tennessee. (Tom Bell)

Aaron Thompson, owner/operator and sommelier at Brother Wolf and Osteria Stella in Knoxville, Tenn.

I recently visited Natalino del Prete in Puglia last month. Natalino and his daughter Mina shared a bottle of their Salento IGT Negroamaro ‘Anne’, named after Natalino’s wife. It’s fermented and aged in concrete tanks. It was amazing to see in person. Natalino took us out during harvest to taste the Negroamaro grapes that go into the wine. The vines are 75 years old! The biodynamic wine was showing incredible finesse and intense red fruit character. It was an incredible memory I won’t soon forget.

Jacob Brown, beverage director at Best of Award of Excellence winner Lazy Bear, in San Francisco

A super tough question for sure: The 2014 Peay Elanus Chardonnay. Vanessa Wong is consistently my favorite winemaker in the country and shows how ageworthy her wines are. I think that not enough people allow their California Chardonnay to age as they would white Burgundy. Chardonnay in California is incredible and is seemingly getting better every vintage.

Victoria James, beverage director at Best Award of Excellence–winning Cote Korean Steakhouses in Miami and New York City

I just had a baby girl named Simone last year, and in her honor people have gifted us a lot, and I mean a lot, of Château Simone. So whenever I drink their rosé, white or red, I am reminded of the best thing that ever happened to me and well, isn't that just the best?

 Portrait of Erik Segelbaum, next to a wine fridge.
Educator Erik Segelbaum's favorite wine of the year was one shared with his wife, rather than one of the treasures he gets to drink as part of his job. (Kylene White)

Erik Segelbaum, founder of SOMLYAY and GoodSomm, formerly corporate wine director for Starr Restaurants, including Best Award of Excellence winner Le Diplomate in Washington D.C.

Best is such a subjective word. And that's ultimately the beauty of wine. We each have our own criteria that make a wine “the best.” While nowhere close to the most expensive or rare wine I had in 2022, the best wine for me was a bottle of Tabor Adama Barbera rosé from Israel. This is one of my and my wife's favorite wines, and every time we drink it together I'm both overjoyed by her love of it and transported back emotionally to the many times I've had the pleasure of visiting Israel. It is proof positive that wine is emotional, visceral, transformative and transcendental. It's also stunningly delicious, especially with a few years of age.

Mathias Goldstein, sommelier at Soda Club in New York City

‘Best wine’ is really the intersection of the wine itself with time and place. I had the opportunity to drink some exquisite wines this year, but most of them were in a tasting lineup with dozens of other wines, spittoons and the cacophony of hundreds of other wine professionals scrambling to do the same. Is this the environment that made us fall in love with grape juice? I hope not!

I worked harvest in Montlouis Sur Loire this fall for Lise and Bertrand Jousset. We rolled out the doors at 7 a.m. to start harvest: sometimes picking grapes, sometimes shuttling the grapes from the vineyard, sometimes hoisting pallets of them into the pneumatic press. It was hard work. But every morning around 10 a.m., we’d go on break for a mid-morning snack: often warm grilled cheese sandwiches with pesto and fresh tomato on sourdough, and then Bertrand would crack open a case of his Pulpe Fiction Muscadet. And we’d drink! It is a delightful, refreshing wine. Perfect for that moment. Wine and time and place. That memory of his motley crew, chewing and drinking Muscadet in quiet contentment at 10 in the morning, was a favorite memory of 2022.

Vincent Morrow, beverage director at 2022 Grand Award winner Press, in Napa, Calif.

Wow....this is hard on so many levels. I've been very fortunate to have some great wine experiences this year while at home and traveling, due to the generosity of others. I have to answer with multiple from each trip thus far: In Etna, 2008 Benanti Rosso and Girolamo Russo San Lorenzo 2011; in Piedmont, G.B. Burlotto Barolo 2015; in New York, the Henschke Edelstone 2005 and Château Rayas 2010. While working on the floor at Press: Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon 1969—the hype is very real—and Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour 1949. But overall? The Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon 1969.

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