January – Is It As Bad As All That?


Happy New Year!  I hope the festive period was good for you and that hangovers were scarce.  The first few weeks of the new year can be a grim time.  The festive fun is over, you’re back to work and it’s cold and dark.  So, rather than think about all that, I thought I’d just jump right into thinking about the exciting stuff that’s happening at the beginning of this year! 

​In just a couple of weeks I’ll be heading to Bordeaux:  I will definitely be visiting some of the Chateaux, will absolutely be sampling the world-renowned reds but will also be checking out the massively undervalued white from the region.  Usually a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, the whites can be crisp, clean and of gloriously good quality.  From the wonderfully affordable Entre-Deux-Mers region right up to the Premier Cru of Pessac-Léognan in Graves.  

As well as looking at wines for myself and the school, I’ll also be keeping my eye out for some wines for a lovely customer of mine who is getting married this year.  She wants Bordeaux served at her wedding so we’re having a tasting evening with her parents and future in-laws to go through what they may like.  Wedding wines are important, many don’t give them enough thought.  Whilst you can’t please everybody,  affordability and taste are important and, if you are keen to go it alone, you can get some great wines at very good prices!

Early February, I will be heading to the Savoie region in the French Alps.  I will predominately be skiing however I will also be searching the local shops and bars for great wines – Savoie is a wonderful wine making region which has been overlooked in the past, branded as cheap, ski-chalet fayre.  In recent years, Savoie has started to produce some exceptionally good wines: 70% of what they make is white (unsurprising as it’s made at high altitude and in a cool climate) and it’s made from a number of different lesser-known varieties; Jacquére being the most widely used.  They also make some great Vermouth so, in the name of research, I’ll be sampling some of that too!  If you are going skiing this year. do check out the local wine varieties, ask locals about good wines to try and be a little adventurous – you may find something you really like!

​No dry January for me then it would seem!  I have in the past completed dry January and consider it a worthy pursuit – there’s a lot that can be said from giving yourself a break, especially after the excesses of the festive season.  For now though, my mantra is ‘no booze before Bordeaux’ and I’m hoping that this will help me kick off my big personal goal for this year – to run a half marathon in September.  I’m not a natural runner, I’ve done some 10K events in the past but haven’t done anything for years.  I am starting training with a running club this week and will, hopefully, use running as a way to relax, clear my head, manage my health and fitness, have fun and meet new people.

​In order to hit this new goal, it would be prudent to reduce my alcohol intake however, when wine is your passion (and also your occupation), that can be difficult!  So, I’m trying something a little different and my new mantra for this is: ‘Quality, not quantity’.  This means I get to drink high quality, glorious world wines without spending more money overall or consuming more calories – perfect – win/win!

So – what will I be drinking in 2017?  I’m a massive fan of all things bubbly: Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Limoux, English Sparkling, and I don’t see why that should change. 

Bubbles are for life, not just for Christmas! 

Champagne sales were down globally for the first ten months of 2016 by six million bottles (2.7%) and there is a lot of speculation on why this could be, including Brexit!  I believe that one of the reasons could be down to the wonderful amount of other options available – this year at our Christmas table we had Bilbainas Cava (from our recent Rioja trip) and Chapel Down Vintage Reserve (£20.79 Waitrose).  English Sparkling wine is finally getting the recognition it deserves and, if you haven’t tried it yet, you really should!  If you’re not necessarily a Champagne fan, the Mount Vineyard Sparkling Rosé is a much fruitier bubble.  I’m definitely a fan of Blanc de Noirs Champagne (where they only use black grapes:  Pinot Noir and Meunier) and recently I’ve had some lovely examples of that including this Waitrose number at £21.99 (even greater value on offer!) 

Something I’m yet to try but which has my imagination going wild is Hunters’ Miru Miru Marlborough Brut NV which was recommended by Emma Jenkins MW in this months’ Decanter magazine – New Zealand wines are some of my favourites at the moment and this will, hopefully, find its way to me very soon!

Finally, though, a tip for 2017 – Sparkling Red Wine.  It’s coming. Very big as a pre-dinner aperitif in the Southern Hemisphere, namely Australia, it’s usually a Shiraz and you serve it chilled.  It’s got all the fruity, weighty, tannic boldness of a red but the bubbles give it a wonderful, frivolous, enjoyable lift.  Jacobs Creek do an incredibly affordable (and well received) Shiraz option if you’re really unsure and just want to dip your toe in with very little financial input.  

​So many bubbly options, there’s got to be one out there for everybody and one for every occasion.  So, whilst it may be January and back to work, you can still keep a little fizz in your life!

No Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *