Our Top 10 Wines of 2023! Plus Honourable Mentions and Top Value Wines - Carl's Wine Club

Our Top 10 Wines of 2023! Plus Honourable Mentions and Top Value Wines

After tasting over 1200 Canadian wines in 2023, we're ready to reveal our most notable and exciting discoveries of the year.

This is our FOURTH edition of the Wines of the Year list of Canada's most exciting wines - more on the selection process below.

Let's start with the top value wines of 2023, followed by honourable mentions, and then - drum roll please! - the Top 10 Wines of 2023!


Top Value Wines of 2023

We often say it is harder to find an exceptional wine under $20 than it is to find an exceptional wine at a higher price point.

These three wines had us jumping out of our seats with joy when we discovered their price points. They each over-deliver their price tag BIG TIME. Plus, they constitute 'cellar insurance' to help you save your cellar-worthy wines from being consumed too early. Buy these ones by the case if you can!

The average bottle price for these value wines is $20 including tax per bottle and scores range from 90+ to 92 points. 

#3: 2022 Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc 

With 90+ points at only $15.95 including tax, this wine seriously overdelivers. Brimming with flavour at an unbeatable price point.

#2: 2021 Bella Terra Cabernet Merlot 

How about 92 points for just $19.95 including tax? A full bodied crowd-pleaser with enough flavour and complexity to keep you engaged.

>> See the full tasting notes and get a bottle FREE with every 11 purchased, plus Free Shipping, for a limited time here.

#1: 2020 Monte Creek Living Land Chardonnay

At only $22 plus tax, this blew our minds in a marathon tasting against $70+ Chardonnays. Incredible value find!

Honorable Mentions

Now onto the top tier discoveries!

These 5 honourable mentions scored 93-94 points and represent some of the most interesting and exciting finds of the year.

The average bottle price for these honourable mentions is $62 including tax per bottle and scores range between 93-94 points.

#5: 2018 Howling Bluff Forbidden Blanc Fortified

93pts, BC. A luscious, fortified dessert wine with intense flavour.

#4: 2022 Vineland Estates Elevation St. Urban Riesling

93pts, ON. A precise, complex Riesling that shows the potential of the 2022 Niagara vintage.

#3: 2022 Seven Directions Tractor & Vines Pinot Noir Rose

93pts, BC. Consistently Canada's best rose from the rose master, Daniel Bontorin. This may just be the last vintage of the Tractor & Vines vineyard roses, as the Solum Rosa Estate Vineyard is poised to produce future vintages for this rose-only brand. 

#2: 2020 Hester Creek "X" Winemaker Trilogy Red Blend

93pts, BC. An impressive Petit Verdot dominant red blend built for long term cellaring, with an equally impressive cult following right at release. Watch for the release of "Y" and "Z" in coming years. The names represent longitude, latitude and elevation, key elements in terroir.

#1: 2018 Pearl Morissette Cuvee Madeline Cabernet Franc 

94pts, ON. Rich and wildly enjoyable - one of the best Cab Francs tasted in 2023.

The Top 10 Wines of 2023

Let the countdown begin! Get ready for the WOW WOW WOW wines.

Out of over 1200 Canadian wines tasted, we tried to showcase the diversity available to Canadians with this Top 10 list.

While some of these producers could have taken up multiple spots on this list since they make more than one wine at this level, we wanted to highlight multiple producers and wines that we feel members just have to know more about.

The average bottle price for the Top 10 is $68 including tax per bottle. Keep scrolling to see detailed tasting notes for each after the list below.

#10: 2021 Maverick Cabernet-Syrah

94pts CWC, BC, $40+

#9: 2022 Bella “Ancestral Method Pommard Clone” Pinot Noir

94pts CWC, BC, $32.60+

#8: 2019 Leaning Post “Senchuck” Pinot Noir

94pts CWC, ON, $70

#7: 2021 Da Silva “Legado” Chardonnay

94+pts CWC, BC, $59.99+

#6: 2019 Stonebridge “Reserve” Cabernet Franc

94+pts CWC, ON, $65

#5: 2021 Westcott “Block 76” Chardonnay

94+pts CWC, ON, $50

#4: 2021 Painted Rock Cabernet Sauvignon

94+pts CWC, BC, $59.99+

#3: 2020 Bachelder Grimsby Hillside “Frontier” Chardonnay

95pts CWC, ON, $60

#2: 2020 Icellars “Wismer-Parke” Syrah

95+pts CWC, ON, $75

#1: 2015 River Stone “Milestone”

96pts CWC, BC, $124.99+

>> Order your Milestone while supplies last or add it on to your Mystery Pack!


Thank you for celebrating with us and for being a part of this amazing community of Canadian wine lovers!

>> Until January 7, you can order a Mystery Pack of Wines of the Year! Click here for details.

You can also make a special request for any of these wines by emailing us at carl@carlswineclub.com and we will be happy to see what we can source for you! 

Let us know what wines YOU enjoy the most! What was your top Canadian wine of 2023? 


Carl & Mira,

Founders, Carl's Wine Club

Detailed Tasting Notes


2015 River Stone “Milestone” Collector’s Edition

BC VQA, Okanagan Valley
90% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot l Dry | 14.7% ABV
96pts Carl’s Wine Club

This is a magical wine, in terms of texture, length, power, finesse and complexity. This is probably one of the top 10 Canadian red wines that I have ever tasted. I mean, this is very special, a complete harmony in all aspects. The refinement and the finesse are at a World Class level with pin-point flavour definition, well defined edges and incredible softness. On the nose, aromas of cassis, black cherry and dark chocolate welcome you at first followed by forest floor, pencil shavings, cedar box and a hint of dried herbs. The palate shows a perfect seven years of evolution with sweet black fruits like blackberry, black plum and dark cherry. The mid-palate offers a stunning complexity highlighting different levels of torrefaction with expresso coffee, dark chocolate, black licorice and toasted spice well integrated with  vanilla and other oak elements. The finish is long, very long! With a reminiscence of a great right-bank Bordeaux (wink - wink Chateau Cheval Blanc 😊) where white pepper intermingles perfectly with graphite. The tannins are perfectly immersed, and the structure stands firm, all in a wonderful softness. Do not decant this wine. (CWC, Sept 22, 2023).

Food pairing: beef wellington, roasted leg of lamb
Drink now until 2027
Winery Price: $125.00+ tax & deposit

>> The Milestone is available to order here (no minimums) for a limited time!


2020 Icellars “Wismer Parke Vineyard” Syrah


Ontario, Niagara, VQA Twenty Mile Bench
100% Syrah | Dry Wine | 14.9% ABV
95+pts Carl's Wine Club

WOW, definitely an early leading candidate for Wine of the Year and probably the best Syrah I’ve tasted from Niagara. A wine with power and finesse, incredible depth and richness, this Syrah is the perfect expression of the “Vintage of the Century”. The nose is generous with aromas of blueberry, cassis and violet, before transitioning towards cappuccino and cinnamon. On the palate, the texture is incredibly rich and perfectly lifted by a wave of freshness and acidity which gracefully balance the 14.9% alcohol. The flavours of blueberry jam, dark cherry, tiramisu, licorice and white pepper come in perfectly synchronized layers. An absolute MASTERPIECE. This will age for at least a decade without blinking. (CWC, 13/3/23). 120 cases made.


Food pairing: BBQ pork ribs, lamb roast
Drink now until 2032
Winery Price: $75.00 including tax & deposit


2020 Bachelder “Grimsby Hillside – Frontier Block” Chardonnay


ON, Niagara, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore
100% Chardonnay l Dry (RS 2.0g/ltr) | 13.5% ABV
95pts Carl’s Wine Club, 97pts David Lawrason (WineAlign), 95pts Rick VanSickle

Seductive and stunningly cerebral, this wine shows some of the greatest attributes and potential of the very sought-after Grimsby Hillside Vineyard, the crown jewel of the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation. The Frontier Block is one of the three parcels of the vineyard showcased by Thomas Bachelder, and probably the one showing the most finesse and complexity. On the nose, you can expect citrus like lemon zest, lemon meringue, orange blossom and a hint of floral components. The palate is soft, light on its feet and perfectly balanced with classic notes of lemon, lemon pie, apricot, yellow plum, caramel and almond cookie. For me, two things separate this wine from great to Greatness. First, the level of flinty and salty minerality is unparalleled, as is the way it’s spread across the palate. Second, the level of complexity is such that every step makes you think and reflect about the experience, making every moment absolutely unique. (CWC, Dec 1, 2023). 81 cases made.


Food pairing: seared scallops, steelhead trout filet
Drink now until 2032

Winery price: $60.00 plus tax/dep



2021 Painted Rock Cabernet Sauvignon


BC, Okanagan Valley, VQA Skaha Bench
100% Cabernet Sauvignon | Dry Wine (RS 1.6 g/ltr) | 14.5% ABV
94+pts Carl’s Wine Club, 94pts John Schreiner

This might be my favourite bottle of our Painted Rock selection this year. A spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon from a special terroir overlooking the lake on the Skaha Bench. A very perfumed wine on the nose, with forest floor and pine needles, pencil lead, deep dark fruits like blackcurrants and blackberry, cedar and black tea. Full body, this Cabernet Sauvignon is tangy and energetic with a clear line of fresh tannins and acidity. Very attractive now in a youthful and vibrant way, but this will be SPECTACULAR in three to four years. Dark, fleshy and expansive on the palate, which offers flavours of blackberry jam, ripe raspberry, balsamic, crushed gravel, spice, new leather, licorice, mint and crème de cassis. The 2021 seems to have an extra dimension of textural intensity - it's an intensity that is hugely appealing. This is a very special wine. Another potential candidate for my Top 10 Wines of the Year. Decanting is strongly recommended! (CWC, Nov 30, 2023). 260 cases made.


Food pairing: beef tartar, deer tenderloin
Drink between 2024 to 2032+

Winery price: $59.99 plus tax/dep



2021 Westcott “Block 76” Chardonnay


Ontario, Niagara, VQA Vinemount Ridge
100% Chardonnay | Dry Wine (RS 3.0 g/ltr) |13% ABV
94+pts Carl’s Wine Club, 95pts Rick VanSickle

Wow, this wine is absolutely fantastic, a stunning showing of finesse and elegance! Hand-picked from a one-acre block on the Home Farm Vineyard, this Chard was fermented in neutral oak barrels and aged for 16 months. The nose is expressive, jumping out of my glass with notes of Meyer lemon, yellow apple, jasmine and butterscotch while the palate is incredibly soft, complex and balanced. On the front-palate, flavours of zesty lemon, candied apple and a hint of pear, while the mid palate is the star of the show with richness, lip smacking acidity, and a World Class level of minerality on full display. The finish delivers subtle toasty oak notes and light spices, citrus peel, while a burst of saltiness boomerangs back when you think that it’s all over. ABSOLUTELY spectacular! One of my top Chardonnays tasted this year, no question about that. (CWC, 10/23/2023). 200 cases made.


Food pairing: poached halibut, blanquette de veau
Drink now until 2031

Winery price: $50.00 including Tax & Deposit



2019 Stonebridge “Reserve” Cabernet Franc

Ontario, Niagara, VQA Twenty Mile Bench
100% Cab Franc | Dry (RS 3.0 g/ltr) |13% ABV
94+pts Carl’s Wine Club

This wine was the top wine of our Cabernet Franc marathon this year out of over 50 Cab Francs from all over the country. An absolute stunner! I knew that Stonebridge produces fantastic premium wines, but this single vineyard wine, wild fermented and aged for 19 months in French oak (30% new), was a revelation. The structure of this wine is astonishing: a fantastic blend of solid acidity and sweet ripe fruits, with brilliant concentration and terrific length. On the nose, the aromas are expressive with a great mix of dark fruits, blue fruits, tobacco and floral notes. The palate is rich and distinctive, with flavours of rich blackberry and blue plum, lots of tobacco, red pepper jelly, dark cherry gracefully polished dusty tannins. This is a seamless wine, and everything is nicely in balance. the finish is extremely long with black cracked pepper, oak spices and lingering minerality. This is built for decades of cellaring. (CWC, 09/21/2023). 415 cases made.

Food pairing: lamb kabob, NY strip loin with peppercorn sauce
Drink now until 2031

Winery price: $65.00 including tax & deposit



2021 Da Silva “Legado” Chardonnay


BC, VQA Okanagan Valley
100% Chardonnay | Dry | 13.0% ABV
94+pts Carl’s Wine Club

This Chardonnay is stunningly complex and tenacious showing a great mix between fresh citrus fruits and roundness of the tropical edges, and a layer of stoney minerality. On the nose, the aromas of lemon meringue pie come up first, quickly followed by a burst of tropical fruits, chamomile tea and ginger. The palate is very well layered and tremendously complex offering yellow baked apple and Meyer lemon on the front palate before hitting some tropical notes with grilled pineapple and mango, before developing distinctive toasty and oak spices like cardamom and clove, white pepper, pie crust and caramel. The length of this wine is absolutely spectacular. One of the best BC Chardonnays, without a doubt! It is showing beautifully just a month after bottling, but I expect that this wine could score 96 points with just a few more years of bottle aging. (CWC, 08/04/23). 100 cases made.


Pairings: grilled halibut, paella
Drink between 2024 and 2030

Winery Price: $59.99 plus tax/dep



2019 Leaning Post “Senchuck” Pinot Noir                                    


Ontario, Niagara, VQA Lincoln Lakeshore
100% Pinot Noir | Dry (RS 3.0 g/ltr) |12.5% ABV
94pts Carl’s Wine Club

This is where power meets elegance. Where refinement meets concentration, where flavour definition meets length and complexity. I mean, this wine has everything to compete on the World stage with any Pinot Noir from anywhere. This is a Niagara Superstar. On the nose, aromas of cherry, raspberry, fresh violets, rose water and forest floor. The palate is soft and suave delivering defined flavours of red cherry, cranberry, earthiness, and a long, long, LONG and complex finish. The tannins are gentle, precise and gracious, the oak profile expends the texture appropriately and the acidity lifts the whole body of work.  This might just be the best Pinot Noir from the Senchuk vineyard to date and will age gracefully for at least a decade. (CWC, 08/17/23). 150 cases made


Pairings: crab stuffed Portobello mushroom, roasted quail
Drink now until 2031

Winery Price: $70 including tax & deposit



2022 Bella “Black Pine Vineyards” Ancestral Sparkling Pinot Noir Pommard Clone


BC, Okanagan Valley, Naramata Bench
100% Pinot Noir| Dry | 10.1% ABV
94pts Carl’s Wine Club

This is one of my most surprising wines tasted since the beginning of my Canadian wine journey. 100% Pommard clone Pinot Noir from the Naramata Bench. This ancestral traditional method bubbly delivers incredible softness on the palate with a creamy and unctuous mousse, bright acidity and stunning vibrancy. Flavours of dark cherry, raspberry, cranberry and a hint of floral notes enhanced a long-lasting sensory experience. Fresh and immensely delicious, I just hope to get my hands on a couple more bottles, so I can introduce this world class small producer to other Canadian wine lovers. WELL DONE. (CWC, Sept 15, 2023). 50 cases made.


Food pairing: crab cakes, smoked salmon and cream cheese
Drink now until 2027

Winery price: $32.60 plus tax & deposit



2021 Maverick Cabernet-Syrah

BC, VQA Okanagan Valley
60% Cab Franc, 34% Syrah, 6% Cab Sauv | Dry | 14.0% ABV
94pts Carl’s Wine Club

This is a gorgeous wine, a wine of class and distinction, with superb flavour definition! Co-fermented Cab Franc and Syrah, aged for 18months in French and Hungarian oak. The addition of a splash of Cab Sauv brings structure, depth and intensity. It’s complex and cerebral, but also juicy and so well balanced. On the nose you’ll find very expressive aromas of dark cherry, cherry wood, cassis, blueberry, vanilla, sandalwood, pencil shavings and a hint of violet. The palate is soft and generous, approachable and well defined. At first, black cherry and blackberry are coming at you with discretion followed by cassis and a swirl of black forest cake. The mid palate is filled with black currants, smoked meat, leather, a hint of fresh herbs and dark licorice. The finish is soo long with cedar box and tobacco leaves, also including a nice sequence of spices such as black cracked pepper followed by Turkish delight. This wine has the material and everything that I’m looking for to be included in my Top 10 Wines of the Year. An absolute GEM and very well priced. I sure hope to see this wine coming back in the future, as this was the first of its kind made at Maverick Estate. (CWC, Dec 28, 2023) 95 cases made. 

Food pairing: BBQ smoked ribs, beef tartare
Drink now until 2030

Winery price: $40.00 plus tax & deposit


>> Until January 7, you can order a Mystery Pack of Wines of the Year! Click here for details.

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