The start of the year is very much the tasting season in the UK wine trade, many producers and agents host tastings of new vintages and in many cases new wines.
The talk this year has very much been about grape harvests around the world’s wine regions and how adverse climatic conditions have affected almost every region.
From frosts to drought, the impact will have a significant effect on wine prices over the coming year, with some regions suffering from harvests as much as 30 per cent down it is not hard to see why.
This is perhaps not the column to debate world climate change but it seems in the wine industry there is little doubt that the climate is changing and there will be challenging times ahead if they are not already here.
In the meantime, here’s some wines from various tasting events I’ve attended which are worth seeking out.
As a nation we can’t seem to get enough of sparkling wine at the moment and if there is one wine that has highlighted that, it is prosecco.
I have to nail my flag to the mast here and state that there is sadly an awful lot of not very interesting, indeed dull, prosecco out there.
But I do recognise that it has led the growth of the sparkling wine bubble over the past few years.
Borgo Molino Prosecco Extra Dry, Treviso (Co-op £9.80) is a great example of how trading up just a little certainly gets you more wine for your money.
This is very pretty in the glass with fine, small bubbles and notes of ripe green apples, pears and citrus fruits.
Don't be put off by the extra dry on the label as there is some fruit sweetness on the finish which works well.
It comes in a stylish bottle, very Italian, and would make a nice aperitif.
Like prosecco, Rioja is hugely popular in the UK and Baron de Ley Reserva 2013, Rioja (Waitrose £13.95, Ocado £12.00) is an example of just why that is the case.
It’s quite a modern style of Rioja with strawberry and black cherry fruit, a touch of spice and vanilla oak, before a supple plate with silky tannins and a nice long finish.
Serve this with some rosemary and garlic-influenced lamb chops.
There is no doubt that this is one of those very dependable wines, although I would make a note here that if you can still find the 2012 vintage it is the better vintage.
Cotes du Rhone is another of those wines we have a strong relationship with and Cotes du Rhone 2014, E.Guigal (Waitrose £11.49, Majestic £12.99 but £10.99 if part of a mixed six) is made by one of the real stars of the region and another ultra-dependable wine and without question worth the trade up.
Made from a blend of grenache and syrah, there are generous black fruits and spice, followed by firm but ripe tannins and a very satisfying finish.
This is one of those warm, hugs of a wine, a real crowd-pleaser and works so well with hearty dishes.
• Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call (01243) 431002 or e-mail email@example.com.