So, before I look ahead to 2019 next week, here are some highlights from 2018.Â
In my job I get the opportunity to travel, meet many interesting people andÂ tasteÂ some pretty amazing wines. Last year was no exception.
I spent some time inÂ the Cape Winelands in March, a wine region I have visited oftenÂ and there is littleÂ doubtÂ that South Africa is oneÂ of the most exciting and most dynamic wine regions in the world right now.
However, while I wasÂ there the region was in the middle of a terrible drought, with many vineyards bearingÂ the brunt of water rationing measures.
21 photos from legendary nights out in 1999 in Gosport and Portsmouth
19 pictures that give a flavour of Portsmouth life back in 1960
17 photos to take you back to trips to Knight and Lee in Southsea
The Great British Bake Off 2022: Is there a release date, will it be available on Channel 4 and All 4, will Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith return and who are the hosts?
31 photos from The News archives to take you back to Portsmouth in 1995
It was a reminder that growing grapesÂ and making wine is in essence farming, and like other strands of agriculture it is subject to theÂ vagaries of the weather, with global warming being much debated. And here it was in stark reality.Â
The winter brought much needed rain and the Cape's dams are now much healthier butÂ there is no doubt the drought will raise bulk wine pricesÂ and many lessonsÂ have been learned.
If I had to pick one wine from that trip it would be Iona Sauvignon Blanc 2018,Â Elgin (Hermitage Cellars Â£10.99, Bush Vines Â£10.99), tasted from a barrel in the cellar with owner Andrew Gunn.
My middle son James and his fiancÃ©e Naomi accompanied me on this visit, they fellÂ in love with the farm and will be serving this wine at their wedding reception this year. HappyÂ memories indeed.
Somewhat ironically my next trip took me to Provence in early June and I wasÂ greeted by overcast skies and vineyard owners showing some concerns over the unseasonal springÂ and early summer rain.
Provence rosÃ©Â is currently one of the world's mostÂ fashionable wine styles. ButÂ on this tripÂ I tasted some really interesting Provence reds and whites thatÂ get lost in the '˜pale pink haze' that covers the region in most people's eyes.
OfÂ the numerous London tastings I attended, a couple of winemakersÂ really stand-out.JosÃ© Zuccardi, from Argentinian producer Familia Zuccardi presented a range of the family's wines asÂ well as launching a new wine, JosÃ©Â Zuccardi Malbec.
The wine was named after him by his son,Â Sebastien Zuccardi, one of South America's most respected winemakers.
What particularly came across '“ not just in this wine but the entire range '“ were wines that show elegance and greatÂ purity of fruit, wines that are made with real thought to the vineyards where the grapes wereÂ grown, much of which to my mind is missing from the chunky, over-ripe and over-alcoholic malbecs that populate the supermarket shelves.
Lastly, it's not often a winemakerÂ shows every vintage that's ever been produced of one wine, but that's exactly what Chris Alheit ofÂ Alheit Vineyards did in July this year.
The wine, called Cartology, is based on old vine chenin blanc,Â and was first produced with the 2011 vintage.
It would be easy to argue this wine was theÂ catalyst for the new Cape wine renaissance and it was a real pleasure to spend a morning withÂ Chris who is, without question,Â one ofÂ my wine heroes.
Here's to a wonderful 2019 for you all.Â