This seems an odd time to be thinking about wine.
The papers are full of bogus detox diets, everyone is talking about ‘taking it easy', and customers have credit card debts to meet, so this month I have decided to highlight a few wines that offer easy appeal and sheer drinkability, along with value for money.
- Sydre Brut, Eric Bordelet 2005 (£3.95 per bottle ex-VAT from Les Caves De Pyrene, 01483 538820). This is not wine, nor, indeed, is it Magners, but it is cider, just not cider as we know it. Made from biodynamically farmed apples, by the erstwhile sommelier of three-Michelin-starred L'Arpège and lauded by famed Pouilly Fumé producer Didier Dagueneau as "the greatest cider in the world", it sure has a lot to live up to. It's fizzy with an amber colour and aromas of earthy, windfalls. The first sip is challenging; this is for grown-ups. There are flavours of russet apples and a slight tannic grip.
- Pinot Gris, Tim Adams 2006 (£6.58 per bottle ex-VAT from The Australian Wine Club, australianwine. co.uk). Gentle wafts of ripe pears, honey and spice greet you on first sniff, then in the mouth there is a generosity and plumpness – like a silk cushion. It's weighty, but with no alcohol burn and it slips down easily. Excellent aperitif.
- Sauvignon Blanc ‘Garuma Vineyard', Viña Leyda 2005 (£7.95 per bottle ex-VAT from Great Western Wine, greatwesternwine.co.uk). Sauvignon Blanc's continued popularity may confound wine critics but when they are as refreshing as this one it makes sense. Tropical-tinged gooseberry fruit dominates with weight and richness balanced by zesty acidity. Another winner from Chile's San Antonio.
- Cabernet Franc, Blason DOC Friuli Isonzo 2005 (£5.33 per bottle, ex-VAT from Thorman Hunt, 020 7735 6511). This offers lovely primary red fruit aromas, with Cab Franc's characteristic hint of leafy herbaceousness. There's more of the same in the mouth: it's juicy and fresh, fruity and medium weight, with moderate acidity and soft tannins. It's a great glugger andwould make a fine partner for grilled salmon.
- Teresamanera Negroamaro, Cantele 2002 (£7.45 per bottle ex-VAT from Armit, armit.co.uk). Very ripe, figgy and raisined. Smooth, warming, generous with soft, ripe tannins.
- Primitivo di Manduria ‘Papale', Vigne e Vini 2003 (£7.95 per bottle ex-VAT from Great Western Wine, greatwesternwine.co.uk). Broad, baked plums nose, nothing special, but opens up to offer a fullbodied generous mouthful. There's poached red fruits and an elusive, slightly earthy spice note with soft acidity and tannins, and warming alcohol.