Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris says January is the best time to re-stock the wine rack with some great bargain bottles and discounted cases.
Sip for less
At the dawn of a new year, after the festive excesses, the sight of a wine bottle might make many shudder. But with January sales in full swing, this is actually the perfect time to replenish depleted cellars.
Stores and wine merchants are updating their lists for 2014, and introduce the new vintages and lines with some great value offers.
Here are some stand-out promotions and savings available over the next month or so - even if you don't feel ready to sip now, you will regret not placing them in the wine-rack for when you do.
A bone-dry, clean riesling such as Moonlake Clare Valley Riesling 2010, Clare Valley, Australia (£8.39 from £11, while stocks last, www.virginwines.co.uk) is favoured by sommeliers for being food friendly, and is a particularly great match with Asian cuisine. It is fresh and zingy with vibrant citrus fruit counter balanced by good acidity.
A household name, Villa Maria is New Zealand's most awarded winery and Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand (£8 from £11, from now until February 7, Asda) should be snapped up whenever it's on special offer. Bursting with hallmark gooseberry, passion fruit and a limey zestiness, it is herbaceous with a rich tropical palate.
Another giant is Thomas Hardy, considered the 'father of the South Australia wine scene'. Hardys Endeavour Chardonnay 2012, SE Australia (£5.29 from £7.99, from January 22 until February 11, Waitrose) is made exclusively for Waitrose; uncomplicated with lively tropical fruit flavours and lemon zest and a hint of oak on the fruity finish - it's a drop of sunshine in a glass.
On the other end of the scale, the cool climate and chalky soils of Burgundy produce chardonnay with pronounced minerality. Maurice et Fils Chablis 2011, France (£7.99 from £11.99, from now until January 5, www.morrisonscellar.com) has a characteristic steeliness with inviting citrus scents, green apple flavours and a hint of oyster shell on the deliciously refreshing finish.
McGuigan Wines have a stash of medals under their belt - including International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) Winemaker and Wine Producer of the Year, so don't hesitate to treat yourself to their McGuigan Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia (£6.66 from £9.99, Tesco, from now until January 16). It's a rich and full-bodied red with layers of plummy, black fruits, cracked black pepper and a hint of spice on the long, supple finish.
A Bordeaux blend that's merlot dominant, Dourthe Reserve Rouge 2011, Montagne St Emilion, France (£8.24 from £10.99, from January 22 until February 11, Waitrose) is worth patiently waiting until the offer date. An elegant and smooth claret, it's blessed with soft red fruit aromas with a silky, elegant mouthfeel, structured tannins and has more than enough charm to be drinking beautifully now.
From Argentina, Vinalba Gran Reservado Malbec 2011, Mendoza, Argentina (£13.99 from £15.99, when you buy two, from now until February 3, Majestic) is Vinalba's flagship wine and the alluring violet notes, concentrated blackberry fruits and rich, velvety mouthfeel demonstrates how old vines and low yields can deliver great quality and great satisfaction.
:: By the case
As it's the Year of the Horse in the Chinese Zodiac, The Equestrian Reserve Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Australia (£6.99 from £13.99, case of six, £41.94, with a saving of £42, from now until January 31, www.laithwaites.co.uk) seems a fitting choice. Complex and dense with trademark Coonawarra cabernet minty black fruits, cassis and vanilla oak flavours (it spends 22 months in oak), it is best to decant an hour before serving.
Named after a fictional 12th century Spanish nobleman who lost at a card game and blamed the quality of wine for his loss of judgement, Don Mendo Gran Reserva 2005, Carinena, Spain (£6.99 from £9.99, case of six, £41.94, with a saving of £18, from now until January 31, www.laithwaites.co.uk) is a beguiling blend of tempranillo, garnacha and carinena (carignan) that is suave and mellow with soft red berry fruits, firm tannins and a lick of spice on the finish.
A Burgundian blonde that bridges the gap between mid-week drinker and Sunday best, Macon La Roche Vineuse 2010, Olivier Merlin, Burgundy, France (£9.95 from £14.50, case price of 12, £119.40, with a saving of £54.60, from now until January 21, www.bbr.com) is a tantalisingly fresh chardonnay with citrus scents, ripe, juicy white fruit and a lemony lushness on the graceful finish.
More high-end for those special occasions, Peregrine Pinot Noir 2009, Central Otago, New Zealand (£24.50 from £35, case price of 12, £294, with a saving of £126, from now until January 21, www.bbr.com) is a silky sip that won Best Pinot at the IWSC awards. The succulent raspberry and cherry fruit combined with the soft texture is pure, unadulterated pleasure.
:: Liquid news
Still nifty at 50... To mark the start of 2014, and to coincide with its landmark 50th birthday, Taylor's port are releasing Taylor's 1964 Single Harvest Port (£150, limited edition of 2,000 bottles, soon to be available from various specialist retailers including www.hedonism.co.uk). Dressed in a classic Taylor's frosted bottle and this 50 Year Old wood-aged port promises warming butterscotch and molasses on the nose with a smooth, velvety palate enriched with spice, black pepper and nutty flavours with a finish as long as a runway - not to mention an attractive freshness, despite its age.
The 1964 Taylor's Single Harvest Port will be followed in 2015 by an equally precious 1965.
For more info visit www.taylor.pt