Head to Spain for value

Garzon Tannat from Uruguay.
Garzon Tannat from Uruguay.
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Picture: Jonathan Brady

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So welcome to a new year and having gazed into my crystal decanter here are some thoughts about what we should all be drinking this year.

Wine is bit like food.

Zalze Bush Vine chenin blanc 2014.

Zalze Bush Vine chenin blanc 2014.

Remember sun-dried tomatoes?

Trends come and go and it’s not so long ago that Australian chardonnay was in everyone’s fridge.

Then along came sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio and now, somewhat strangely, Aussie chardonnay is making a bit of a comeback.

However, our first stop should be Spain.

La Garnacha 2014, Salvaje del Moncayo.

La Garnacha 2014, Salvaje del Moncayo.

With tapas bars now the darling of restaurant critics, coupled with the value for money that Spanish wines can offer, there is no reason why the growth in all things Spanish should not continue.

The quality of much of the wine is undeniable.

There is much of interest outside the traditional areas such as Rioja in which to explore both red and white.

La Garnacha 2014, Salvaje del Moncayo (winesociety.com £6.95, Majestic £9.99 but when part of a mixed six, £7.99) is the type of Spanish wine that we wouldn’t have seen on the shelves until fairly recently.

From northern Spain this has dark berries, spice and notes of violets before a juicy, ripe fruit-filled palate. A lovely mouthful of red wine to go with some lamb cutlets.

Staying in Spain, here’s my annual shout out for sherry. Not new or cutting edge, but this represents some of the best value wines from anywhere and the range of styles can match a multitude of foods.

Start with La Gitana Manzanilla (widely available from £10 also available in 500ml bottles from £8) which is wonderfully fresh and bone dry, with a distinctive salty tang.

Think of it as a white wine and serve it with a plate of garlic prawns – perfect.

Take a look at the continued growth in non-traditional varietals, regions, and styles. There is a move towards more natural wines as well as bio-dynamic practices, which is interesting but perhaps not everyone’s bag.But keep trying different wines. There is so much choice.

So how about Bodega Garzón Tannat 2013 Uruguay (chesterbeerandwine.co.uk £13.75)? Tannat is a little-known grape still found in south-west France, but it seems to have found a new home in Uruguay.

Very deep in colour, this has lovely dark fruits, a touch of chocolate, ripe tannins and unlike many Uruguayan wines I’ve tasted, the oak is beautifully judged. Open this with a ribeye steak or roast beef.

Lastly, I think 2016 is going to be the year of chenin blanc, perhaps not to the same degree as sauvignon blanc but this white variety from the Loire Valley that does so well in South Africa is so food-friendly and can make a range of styles from light to complex.

Zalze Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2014, South Africa (Waitrose £5.99 on offer from £8.29 until January 26) is the fresher, more aromatic style of chenin blanc with a touch of tropical fruit, followed by a crisp, zesty palate.

It’s easy to enjoy and works well as an aperitif or with simple salads.