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7:00am Saturday 12th January 2013 in Lifestyle
Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris checks out the best wine promotions and suggests some superb vinos to kick-start the new year.
Rich pickings from the grapevine January is a prime time for wine lovers to bag a bargain with so many stores and wine merchants offering discounts and savings.
Indeed, dipping into the wine fund to replenish the rack will make those indulgent moments when you reach for a glass all the more worthwhile.
Cash :: Everyday wines from Asda's new mid-tier range, The Wine Selection, offer a refreshing drop of sunshine. Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon, Australia (£4.48 from £5.98, from January 3 until February 20, Asda) blends lemony fruit from the semillon grape with zesty sauvignon blanc.
:: Grapes grown on old vines signal concentrated wines with a rich mouthfeel and dense fruit. Try Finest Old Vines Tempranillo 2010, Spain (£5 from £7.99, from January 2 until February 19, Tesco), which showcases hints of ripe blackberry fruits, plummy aromatics, spice and oak.
:: South Africa has made chenin blanc its calling card, and Zebra View Chenin Blanc 2012, Perdeberg Winery, South Africa (£5.61 from £7.49, Marks & Spencer) is overflowing with apple, apricot and citrus flavours on a snappy finish.
:: The Lodi region of California is famous for its first-rate zinfandel, but it also produces some jammy shiraz such as Blackburn & James Shiraz 2010, California, USA (£6.65 from £9.99, January 3 until January 22, Waitrose). Weighty and rich with sweet cherry flavours, cedar, pepper and spice, it's a warming red to sip and savour while curled up on the sofa.
:: A versatile food wine, riesling is rising in popularity and St Hallett Eden Valley Riesling 2011, Australia (£6.99 from £8.99, The Co-Operative, until January 15) is a good introduction to this racy style from Down Under. With invigorating lime aromas and steely acidity, pair this dry white with Indian or Asian dishes.
Debit card :: South African winery Journey's End rarely produces a duff wine and Kendal Lodge Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2010, Stellenbosch, South Africa (£8.24 from £10.99, now until January 27, Marks & Spencer) is testament to the winemaker's skills. It's a soft, generous cabernet with fresh currant and plum, roasted herb and a long, elegant finish.
:: For a fresh and vibrant Chilean chardonnay, try Vinalba Reserva Chardonnay 2012, Chile (£8.99 from £10.99 when buy two, until February 4, Majestic). Tropical fruit notes mingle with lemon meringue and honeysuckle to create a delicate but lively white with good acidity and a clean aftertaste.
:: An old favourite, a good Rioja under Harrods' own label will bring some extra pizzazz to the table. Harrods Rioja Crianza, Spain (£9.25 from £11.50, now until January 20, www.harrods.com) is a tempranillo temptress with mellow strawberry and spiced cherry fruit, vanilla oak and a dry, moderate finish.
:: Pull the cork on Chateau Maris, Les Vielles Vignes Minervois La Liviniere 2010, France (£9.99 from £12.99, January 3 until January 22, Waitrose). Made from biodynamically tended syrah, with silky smooth brambly dark fruit flavours and subtle spice, drinking for a good cause never tasted so good. This classy red has lovely depth and a delicious mouthfeel.
:: A pretty Italian rose with a floral bouquet can always be put aside for a rainy day, or Valentine's even. Burlotto Elatis 2011, Italy (£16.95 from £22.95, now until January 20, www.harrods.com) is made from nebbiolo grapes and this seductive coral pink promises crunchy red berry flavours, superb freshness and a streak of minerality on the long finish.
Credit card :: Wines by the case and magnums offer excellent value for the year ahead, and Laithwaites has an impressive line-up with its Bordeaux Reds Sale, which features 12 wines from six chateaux spanning three good vintages - 2008, 2009 and 2010. And while these clarets are drinking well now, the cellar master will enjoy laying them down to be appreciated in several years' time. Bordeaux Reds Sale (£83.88 from £112.08, saving of £28.20, www.laithwaites.co.uk) includes two bottles of the following: Chateau Le Prieure Mouillac Bordeaux 2009, Chateau La Rose Tour Blanche Bordeaux 2009, Le Grand Chai Bordeaux 2008, Chateau Jeanneau 2010, Chateau Haut Robert Cuvee Tertre de Fontenot 2009 and Chateau de Camblanc Medoc 2009.
:: Marlborough, New Zealand, is famed for its sauvignon blanc and fans should take advantage of The Wine Society's Marlborough Sauvignon Case (£136, www.thewinesociety.co.uk). Hot off the grapevine, it's an opportunity to sample some pukka wines which are new to the UK, such as Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2012, plus the latest vintages from famous wineries such as Cloudy Bay and Greywacke. A 12-bottle case includes two bottles of the following: Stoneburn Sauvignon Blanc, Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc, The Society's New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc, Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc and Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc.
:: For celebrations and weddings, nothing beats a magnum, and Chateau Poitevin, Medoc Cru Bougeois 2008, France (£180, case of six magnums, saving of £35, www.fromvineyardsdirect.com) was cited as a top wine by Decanter magazine. A rising star from the Left Bank, this Bordeaux beauty has lasting appeal and a core of ripe black fruits, velvety smooth tannins and a whisper of spice on the lingering finish.
:: Liquid news New additions to a stylish line-up... Harvey Nichols has expanded its own-label wines to include Harvey Nichols Margaux 2009, France (£25, Harvey Nichols nationwide). Produced by Chateau Rauzan-Segla, it's a Bordeaux second growth from an exceptional vintage. In keeping with the rest of the range, the image on the label provides a link to the winemaker and harks back to the days when a bicycle was the standard form of transport around the vineyards. Other top drops include Harvey Nichols Riesling 2011, Australia (£16), Harvey Nichols Shiraz 2010, Australia (£15.50) and Harvey Nichols Sauternes 2010, France. For more information, visit www.harveynichols.com