Start off New Year by stepping out of wine comfort zones

Max Ferd Richter Mülheimer Sonnenlay Riesling 2011

HAPPY New Year. Your resolution was to stop drinking for a month? And you gave in eerrm … about 8pm last night?

Never mind. Change that 2013 resolution to exploring the world of wine. Don’t stick to what you know – that same bottle on the same shelf – but ring the changes.

I asked for thoughts from some people in the know – go on, be daring this New Year.

Jon Atkinson from Wine Time at Scatchards on Great Howard Street, told me: “Most consumers rarely venture far from their “comfort zone”.

“Pretty much every wine-producing country will produce varieties that you might not have encountered before; for me Italy & Portugal do this more frequently than most. Italy: The best value is to be had in the South and if you like your reds big and bold then Primitivo is worthy of further investigation.

“For Portugal, I’m a huge fan of the indigenous white Arinto which is particularly good when grown in the northerly Vinho Verde territory – if you can lay your hands on a bottle from Quinta da Raza you’ll not be disappointed.”

Dan Harwood, Business Development Manager at Vinea on Albert Dock says: “Our wines of 2013 are those from the Somontano region of north east Spain.

“These progressive and consumer conscious producers are making characterful wines for intriguing varieties as well as old favourites. We will be celebrating their wines at a tasting in March.” (Details at

Devin Stewart, from R&H Fine Wines on Queen Avenue, told me: “If all those who switch to autopilot and ask for sauvignon blanc or rioja considered north west Spain – Rias Baixas, Ribeiro, – and grapes like treixadura, albarino and mencia, I’m quite confident they would find a new world of wine wonder.”

I have to agree – I tasted The Flower and the Bee Treixadura 2011 (£11.99 with Devin. This white is from Ribeiro and it was almost full bodied, with a freshness of a stream trickling over pebbles, with glints of lemons and apples.

Gray Simpson is the manager of Corks Out in Heswall. On one of the wine trade’s busiest days – New Years Eve – he took time out to tell me: “Fiano is my grape of 2013. Sunshine in a glass from Sicily.” Corks Out sells Canapi Fiano 2011 for £9.99.

Finally, my thoughts on new tastes. Next week I begin another course at Liverpool Wine School (www. which is an approved provider of Wine and Spirits Education Trust qualifications. They are used by the trade but for those of us who’ve “got the bug” the insight into the world of wine is fascinating – and huge fun too.

In my glass

if you failed to cut out wine, you might want to reduce the alcohol content.

Germany, with its cooler climate, is well placed to produce quality wines with lower alcohol.

Max Ferd Richter Mülheimer Sonnenlay Riesling 2011 review

The Max Ferd Richter Mülheimer Sonnenlay Riesling 2011 (£10.99, is 10.5% but has a good balance of fruit and cleansing freshness. It is off-dry and minerality is matched with citrus and stonefruit. It was poured on transatlantic flights in the Zeppelin heyday – the wine is still marketed with an Art Deco label.

Winemaker’s Selection Vinho Verde (£3.98, Sainsbury’s) is only 9%. It has a light, citrus sparkle and although it doesn’t deliver massive punches on the nose and palate, it’s a refreshing glass to assuage the guilt of failed New Year resolutions.

Published in the Liverpool Post January 4, 2013 

Perk up your Christmas leftovers with a drop of wine

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Touraine Sauvignon Blanc

PHEW. That’s that for another year . . . now, what to do with the Christmas leftovers in the fridge.

If you don’t have some turkey or sad sprouts staring at you when you reach for the milk, I’ll eat my hat – if I wasn’t too busy eating what’s left of my Christmas ham.

I’ve bought some pomegranate seeds to perk up my turkey in a pilaff – with cook book guidance from Nigella – and I’ll be sipping a crisp sauvignon blanc.

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Touraine Sauvignon Blanc (£8.49) is from Touraine, in the Loire Valley – more commonly known for SB from the appellations sancerre and pouilly-fumé. The grapes are grown on clay and chalky soils which bring a flint- sharp edge to the classic flavours of gooseberry, apple and citrus zests. Refreshing, dry and pale straw, it has a restrained nod of fruit to brighten up your turkey.

The Co-op also has a Loire SB worth seeking out, Sancerre Domaine Raimbault 2011 is reduced by £3 to £9.99 until January 1. It is made to the north of Sancerre and has a well-defined, but subtle sauvignon fruit character and a refined mineral edge. Try a sauvignon blanc with those sad fridge- imprisoned sprouts, but not before you perk them up with a buttery, black- peppered flash in a frying pan – with a squeeze of lemon.

Muscadet Sèvre-et- Maine sur Lie, Domaine des Ratelles, 2011 (£6.50, is another Loire white, light-bodied with a gentle citrus and green apple background. As it has been on the lees, it brings a hint of creaminess. Pour a glass, then make linguine pasta with ribbons of smoked salmon tickled with dill and a whizz of lemon and creme fraiche – or any light-ish cream Auntie Bessie didn’t devour.

I’m eyeing up a viognier to drink with the leftovers of my ginger- beer soaked, apricot-jam baked ham.

F Stephen Millier Angels Reserve Viognier 2011 (from £6.99, is a delicious, full-on Californian glug of peaches and cream in a glass. Or try Zilzie Viognier which is on offer at Asda for £5.48 until January 3.

If your ham simply needs cheese and bread to satisfy, then seek out a Bordeaux blend.

South Africa’s Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot / Cabernet Franc 2009 (RRP £10.99 Majestic) is medium-bodied with a smooth and spicy mix of berries on the nose and the palate.

Now we’ve emptied the fridge, let’s think of 2013.

For party-time bubbles, Morrisons Cava Rosado, from north-eastern Spain, is on offer for £4.99 from £7.49. It’s a pink to drink with pals, with strawberries fizzily flirting in your mouth – it has won a bronze Decanter award, too.

Stay in Morrisons for Decanter silver award winner Pongracz Brut (£13.99) a stylish South African chardonnay and pinot noir sparkler. It’s a delicious mix of apple and buttery pastry, like an apple choux bun of moreishness to sip and sip some more.

Finally, once Big Ben has sounded, raise a glass of Taittinger Brut Réserve NV (RRP £37.99 Tesco, Majestic, Sainsburys and Waitrose).

This is the signature cuvée of Champagne Taittinger and is made with 40% chardonnay with the grapes coming from prime vineyards. It has a fresh nose with typical hints of biscuit and brioche, but it has lingering levels of vanilla and stone fruit, too.

All the best for 2013 from me and mine to you and yours – chink chink.

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