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El Garbí Garnacha Tinto, Terra Alta, Spain 2020 (from £17.95, ewwines.co.uk; vincognito.co.uk; red-white.co.uk) Soon we can start Dry January. But with tomorrow’s national holiday, it seems a bit early to end today’s festivities. Better to follow another much older January tradition, a New Year’s resolution for wine, which for me is to add new styles, locations and grape varieties to the rotation of your favorite bottles, rather than inventing all sorts of abstinence punishments. One of the current styles that I highly recommend if you haven’t tried it before is the new wave of wines made with grenache, or garnaches. A variety that was once mainly known for its large, sweet fruity, highly alcoholic fruit bombs is now in the hands of Spanish vintners operating in mountain vineyards such as the Sierra de Gredos near Madrid and, in the case of El Garbí, Terra Alta in southern Catalonia, producing wines with exquisite lace pinot noir, beautiful red fruit and freshness.
J Bouchon Block Series Semillon, Maule, Chile 2019 (£16.99 or £9.99 as part of a set of six, majestic.co.uk) Another grape variety I’d like to try more this year is Semillon, famous for its role in Bordeaux whites, is widely planted around the world, but has never enjoyed the same appeal and reputation as its frequent blending partner sauvignon blanc. That it can produce great wines on its own has been proven time and time again in Australia’s Hunter Valley: wines such as Tyrrell’s Hunter Semillon 2019 (£16.99, farehamwinecellar.co.uk) are some of the best in the world when it comes to illustrating a wine’s ability to transformation over time, starting with lime and light, flawless and compact, ending with layers of honey, toasty intensity over the years. But the semillons that have surprised me the most over the last few years have been produced by Argentinian and Chilean winemakers who have rediscovered old semillon vines to produce dry white wines with true originality and depth, such as a terse, tangerine-scented example from the 80s. annual vines in southern Chile.
Seméli Mantania Moschofiliero, Peloponnese, Greece 2021 (£11.95, thewinesociety.com) Every year Greek wines become much easier to come by in the UK: there is now a real variety of suppliers and wines available, and the wines themselves have never been better. As a fast track to transforming your regular drinking repertoire, I can think of worse ideas than sticking to only Greek wines for a month or two, a fast course that could include: expressive peach-floral Thymiopoulos Vineyards White Xinomavro-Malgousia (£13.99 or £10.99 as part of a mixed 6, majestic.co.uk); aromas reminiscent of muscat grapes and the juiciness of Seméla Moschofiliero; ‘grand cru Chablis in the Aegean’ smoky mineral crackling, lemon zest and spicy energy Gaia Estate Wild Ferment Assyrtiko, Santorini 2021 (from £29, vinvm.co.uk; fortnumandmason.com); stringy yet supple and juicy, aniseed, peppery and dark cherry dry reds of Avantis Estate Mavrokoudoura, Evia 2018 (£20.50, amathusdrinks.com) plus wonderfully intensely preserved lemon, blood orange, fennel and a delicate chew of Menexes Orange Vilana , Crete 2020 (£26.50, maltbyandgreek.com).
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