Drink This Now: Wine Vintages That Hit Their Peak This Year

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It’s 2023, which means that deep in your cellar is a bottle just bursting with flavor, ready to finally be enjoyed this year. But don’t go into this experience unprepared. Opening a vintage wine after it has spent some much-needed time in storage is a very special experience; our wine experts are here to break down everything you need to know about choosing the best vintage to enjoy this year.

What Really Happens as Wine Ages?

Of course, wines don’t really “peak” as much as they simply reach a point when they’re ready to be poured. “Very few wines have just a peak,” explains Jim Gordon, Senior Tasting Editor at Wine Enthusiast. “There’s not one month, one year you have to drink them. It’s more that they plateau.”

These wines “gain the complexity and nuances of age gradually and get to a point where the wine is in a balance between the complex nuances of age and still has some youthful fruitiness and freshness,” he continues.

With that in mind, here are 10 bottles that reach their potential in 2023. Are you ready to break into these vintages?

The Best Wine Vintages to Drink Now

Taittinger 2008 Comtes de Champagne Grands Crus Blanc de Blancs Brut Chardonnay (Champagne)

97 Points Wine Enthusiast

Coming entirely from Grand Cru vineyards in the Côte des Blancs, the new release of this famous Champagne is from a top vintage year. The wine is at perfect maturity, poised between crisp, taut minerality and wonderful toastiness. It is intense, beautifully clear and limpid, a great Champagne. It is ready to drink now and for many years to come. Cellar Selection Roger Voss

$229.99 Vivino

Produttori del Barbaresco 2013 Montefico Riserva (Barbaresco)

97 Points Wine Enthusiast

Still young but already boasting extraordinary pedigree, this fantastic wine opens with hallmark scents of wild berry, new leather, chopped herb, tilled soil and a whiff of violet. The polished, full-bodied palate delivers juicy wild cherry, crushed raspberry, white pepper and licorice while youthfully assertive, noble tannins and bright acidity provide age-worthy structure. A pipe tobacco note lingers on the finish. Drink 2023–2038. Cellar Selection —Kerin O’Keefe

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

CVNE 2011 Imperial Gran Reserva (Rioja)

97 Points Wine Enthusiast

This is a fabulous gran reserva from a very good but lightly heralded vintage. Aromas of spiced plum, black olive, fig, tobacco and cassis come together like a puzzle. A deep, pure palate shows near-perfect balance, while this tastes of plum, berry fruits and earthy spice. Smooth, elegant and chocolaty on the finish, this delivers all one can ask for from Rioja. Drink through 2035. #5 Enthusiast 100 2019. Cellar Selection —Michael Schachner

$84.99 Wine.com

Yangarra 2015 Ironheart Shiraz (McLaren Vale)

92 Points Wine Enthusiast

The Yangarra vineyards are just next door to Hickinbotham’s, yet the Shiraz here, grown in sandy, ironstone soils, is an entirely different beast. High-toned red currant, raspberry and plum fruit is wound with peppery spice and warm pavement nuances. Tannins are firm and powerful but tightly focused, supporting rather than overpowering the tangy red fruit. One for the cellar. Drink 2021–2034. Cellar Selection —Christina Pickard

$109.99 Total Wine & More

Nikolaihof 2002 Vinothek Riesling (Wachau)

97 Points Wine Enthusiast

A teasing, flinty whiff of reduction beckons from the glass before the taut, fresh, poised but juicy palate hits you. The flavor is reminiscent both of baked and fresh apple, with a smooth lanolin tone. This is not only and elixir but a whole fountain of youth, a full-flavored jewel of a wine. Still slender, still vivid and like balm for the soul. If only we could age so gracefully. Editor’s Choice —Anne Krebiehl MW

$219.99 Wine.com

Freemark Abbey 2005 Bosché Cabernet Sauvignon (Rutherford)

95 Points Wine Enthusiast

Drier and earthier than many Napa Cabs these days, this wine has subtle sage and sweet licorice that grounds its fruitier flavors of blackberries, cherries and raspberries. Very beautiful are the tannins, which are rich and pure, suggesting perfect ripeness. The small Bosché bottling has been a premier one for the winery for many years, and this ’05 is one of the best in memory. Should age effortlessly for at least a dozen years. Cellar Selection.

$129.97 Wine.com

Heitz 2012 Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley)

96 Points Wine Enthusiast

This tremendous 100% varietal wine hails from Oakville and was aged over three years in oak. Juicy red-cherry fruit and a compelling hint of caramel greet the palate, framed by elegant, fine tannins and a subtle minty tone in the background. Balanced and rewarding from start to finish, it has years ahead of it to develop further nuance. Enjoy 2022–2030. Cellar Selection —Virginie Boone

$274.99 Vivino

Kistler 2015 Cuvée Cathleen Kistler Vineyard Chardonnay (Sonoma Valley)

98 Points Wine Enthusiast

Made from a block within the producer’s vineyard, which has a different soil series and clonal selection than the rest of the site, this is a stellar, memorable wine that’s intensely layered and textured, with lasting, lingering acidity. Bright and inviting in fennel and dried apricot, the broken shale within the soil shows itself in stony, mineral components of oyster shell and white flower, with a fresh yet complex finish. Enjoy 2021–2025. #9 Top Cellar Selections 2018 —V.B.

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

Cayuse 2010 Cailloux Vineyard Syrah (Walla Walla Valley (WA))

97 Points Wine Enthusiast

As usual, the Cailloux is co-fermented with Viognier. The oldest of the Cayuse vineyards, it’s really coming into maturity, delivering a tour de force performance in this new vintage. Aromatically explosive, it opens with floral and citrus—notably orange peel—then fills out with a lush palate bursting with cherry fruit, and the winery’s characteristic, savory, umami flavors. The finish seems unending. Cellar Selection —Paul Gregutt

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

Archery Summit 2009 Arcus Estate Pinot Noir (Dundee Hills)

94 Points Wine Enthusiast

Spicy, fruity and extremely youthful, this complex wine brings black cherry and cassis flavors with subtle notes of cola, licorice, allspice, sandalwood and pine needle. Still quite tight and primary, it has been beautifully sculpted into a focused wine with a long life ahead. Cellar Selection —P.G.

$ Varies Wine-Searcher

FAQ

How Do You Determine What Vintage Peaks in 2023?

Consult a wine vintage chart or ask a wine seller when purchasing an age-worthy wine for their recommendation. A lot is dependent on the grape varietal and region from which the wine hails, Gordon explains. For example, red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo tend to age very well, whereas Zinfandel and Grenache tend not to, he says.

What Makes a Wine Age-Worthy?

An age-worthy wine has a good balance of acid, alcohol, tannins and sometimes sugar, Gordon says. “All of those things in the right amount tend to help a wine age,” he notes.

For example, a crisp Chablis from France can age a long time due to its high acid content, a high-tannin Tempranillo can gain more balance by aging and a fortified wine like Port can benefit from aging due to its high alcohol content.

“Many wines are made to age, and if you don’t let it age and try some older wines, then you don’t ever taste the whole wine. You can’t really appreciate what it can do,” Gordon says.

How Do You Store Vintage Wines?

Learn how to store wine for the best chance of letting wines reach their full potential. Gordon recommends storing bottles in a cool, dry place that is out of direct light and sunlight.

Additionally, Gordon notes many wine shops or other reputable wine sellers will take good care of storing older bottles and put them out for sale at a discounted price once they’ve hit their peak. “They tend to be more expensive, so it’s a value, too,” he says.

Why Should You Trust Us?

All products featured here are independently selected by our team, which is comprised of experienced writers and wine tasters and overseen by editorial professionals at Wine Enthusiast headquarters. All ratings and reviews are performed blind in a controlled setting and reflect the parameters of our 100-point scale. Wine Enthusiast does not accept payment to conduct any product review, though we may earn a commission on purchases made through links on this site. Prices were accurate at the time of publication.

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Published on January 9, 2023
Topics: Buying Guide