Shake things up with Try January – Alistair Gibson

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Gris 2017Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Gris 2017
Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Gris 2017
Dry January seems to be very much a thing now but in my line of work it’s not really an option.

Of course, I could suggest a few non-alcoholic wines, however in my experience I have yet to try one that would make me want another glass and to be honest I’d rather have a soft drink.

That being said and returning to a theme I have flagged up before, maybe it should be ‘drink less but drink better’ and this month how about Try January.

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Drink less but go for some different wines or grapes you’ve not tried before.

HaciendaLpez de Haro Barrica Blanco 2017HaciendaLpez de Haro Barrica Blanco 2017
HaciendaLpez de Haro Barrica Blanco 2017

Here are a few less mainstream wines for you.

Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Gris 2017, Marlborough (Co-op £10 £12.99 and on special offer as part of a mixed six currently £10.99) which is not a typo, this is sauvignon gris, not blanc.

It's related to sauvignon blanc, and in many ways very similar, but it has more of a pinkish skin colour and can produce slightly richer wines.

It is only found in a few regions including Bordeaux, Chile and New Zealand and it is seldom bottled a single varietal wine as this one is.

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Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Pinot Noir 2017Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Pinot Noir 2017
Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Pinot Noir 2017

There is citrus fruit, pineapple and a little mango on the nose, followed by a nicely rounded almost creamy palate with a little less zesty acidity that you may find in a Marlborough sauvignon blanc.

I really like this and it would work very well with some simply grilled fish.

White rioja is hardly something new or different but I always think it is often sadly overlooked, especially given that in the last decade or so there are many white riojas being made in a much more modern style.

Hacienda López de Haro Barrica Blanco 2017 (Bush Vines £8.65, Majestic £8.99 or £7.99 as part of a mix – please note 2016 vintage in Majestic) is made mainly from the viura grape and is aged in oak barrels for three months.

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You can sense the oak but it never overwhelms and the wine shows some nice freshness with hints of pear, green herbs and maybe a little banana on the nose, before a nicely judged palate with a little complexity and some creaminess on the finish.

This is really good value and would work really well with a humble roast chicken or a butternut squash risotto.

Generally speaking Chilean pinot noir is at the simple, often slightly jammy end of the spectrum but Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Pinot Noir 2017 (Ocado £16.99, Sone Vine & Son £15.50 but please note 2016 vintage) is a very accomplished wine that shows what can be achieved.

From the Aconcagua Valley near the cooling Pacific Ocean this has a wonderful nose of rose petals, some sour cherry, forest fruits and Asian spices. The palate is medium bodied with more red fruits and dried herbs and silky tannins, before a very long, focused finish.

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This has great elegance, early days I appreciate, but I’d be delighted if I tasted a better sub-£20 bottle of pinot noir this year.

Match this with a Sunday roast leg of lamb and raise a glass to Try January.

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