As noble as it may be, it seems to me that dry January is just at the wrong time of the year.
The January sales aren’t just for bargain TVs or shoes, the wine trade also uses it as an opportunity to clear the cellars of surplus stock or move on the last few bottles of a vintage before releasing the next one.
So if you aren’t having a dry January there are some good bargains to be had. But if you are then this is the chance to put away a few bottles for the coming months.
Let’s start with a few whites.
Stonehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Western Cape (Co-op £5.99 on offer from £8.99) is made by one of South Africa’s finest winemakers. I’ve recommended it before but 2015 was a fantastic vintage in South Africa and this is an absolute bargain with which to stock up ready for the arrival of the asparagus season. Fresh, with zesty lime and grapefruit and a lively finish, it shows more of a nod to the Loire Valley than Marlborough.
The sales are also the opportunity to taste something new. El Cometa del Sur Blanca 2014, Terra Alta (Majestic £8.99 but as part of a mixed six £5.99) is from a small region south of Barcelona and is based on garnatxa blanca, or grenache blanc as it would be known in France.
It is unusual but interesting. There are notes of pear and stone fruits, with soft acidity and a really nice texture.
Gewürztraminer Calcaire 2011, Zind Humbrecht (Majestic £19.99 but as part of a mixed six £13.32) not everyone’s glass of wine maybe but I love Gewürztraminer and this is classy.
It’s beautifully perfumed with spices, honey and a touch of lychee with a long, rich finish but with enough acidity to carry it off.
When it comes to reds Craigmore Shiraz 2012, New South Wales (Waitrose £6.19 down from £8.29 until January 26) is perfect winter red. Made in a more modern Aussie style, this has blackberry and spice and would be perfect with bangers and mash.
Staying in Australia, Wirra Wirra Scrubby Rise Red 2013, Adelaide (Majestic £9.99 but as part of a mixed six, £6.66) is an interesting blend of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot. This is good value. It has dark fruits, and a touch of oak, and cloves and chocolate before a nicely balanced mouthfeel.
Fitou is a wine that seems to have slipped off the radar in recent years, but here is a reason for a revisit. Mlle Jones Fitou 2013, Domain Jones (Majestic £13.99 but as part of a mixed six £10.99) is made by ex-pat Katie Jones who, having lived in the south of France, took the plunge a few years ago and bought some vineyards.
The results have been amazing with several awards for her wines. This is lovely with that classic hint of wild herbs along with blackberry, liquorice and some savoury notes before a beautifully-textured and concentrated palate which would be great with some duck confit.
Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call 01243 431002.