Wine: ‘Pick up a bargain before these offers go the way of Cinderella’s carriage’

JUST as the high street embarks on its January sales, much of the wine trade goes into hibernation. Their big promotions are usually put together with Christmas in mind and come to an end shortly afterwards.

So I suggest you use Scotland’s two bank holidays this week to pick up a bargain or two before these offers go the way of Cinderella’s carriage. Here are some of the highlights.

Several stores have discounts on New Zealand sauvignon blanc and one promotion I particularly rated was the 2011 Marlborough Sounds Sauvignon Blanc (reduced from £10.99 to £5.49, Co-op until – as with all these offers – 3 January). The wine opens with grassy lemon touches to supplement the customary gooseberry flavours but finishes with hints of kiwi fruit and pear drop. Another reliable crowd pleaser is 2010 Taste the Difference Pinot Grigio (reduced by 25 per cent to £5.62, Sainsbury’s). This is not basic PG but, rather, premium-level fare from high-altitude vineyards that has been given extra time on its lees to bring out the wine’s attractive herbal lime flavours but without losing any of its freshness.

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Lovers of white burgundy should make a bee-line for Majestic (their offers end 30 January). 2010 Macon Village Blanc Les Pierres Blanches (£6.99) is a beautifully smooth chardonnay with buttery lemon flavours and appealing concluding minerality. For something a little less mainstream, try a couple of whites at Waitrose. 2010 Laurent Miquel L’Atelier Vermentino (reduced from £9.99 to £6.66) from Languedoc creates a series of complex apricot and grapefruit flavours from the interesting vermentino grape. A little more money will secure the delightful, single vineyard 2010 Felsner Moosburgerin Gruner Veltliner (from £10.99 to £8.49) which shows exactly what beautifully balanced and smooth wine Austria makes from its signature gru-vee grape without compromising the variety’s fresh and lively acidity.

Moving to reds, and three classic European regions. 2010 Cour du Roy (£12.99 to £7.99, Co-op) is a typical minty and smooth Bordeaux from Montagne Saint Emilion with firm plum and bramble fruit and concluding tannin that makes it work best with food. Over the Pyrenees, in Rioja you will find 2005/6 Rioja Reserva Vina Eguia (£9.99 to £5.99, Majestic). The wine is smooth with good weight and acidity and some lovely flavours of ripe, dark fruit with spice and vanilla on the finish. Remember, however, the minimum purchase from Majestic is six bottles mixed any way you like.

The last area is Italy’s Chianti country and the wine in question is 2007 Chianti Riserva Edizione del Fondatore di Mondelli (half price at £5.49, Sainsbury’s) which delivers a balanced and surprisingly soft glassful with pronounced fruit. Australian shiraz has become a classic too, even though excess ripeness and alcohol are markedly less popular these days. However, winemaker Ryan Villis has kept 2009 Blaxland Estate Shiraz (£8.99 to £4.49, Tesco) reasonably light but preserved all the hallmark plum and bramble flavours and attractive spicy finish.

Moving to California, 2010 McManis Family Vineyards Merlot (reduced 20 per cent to £8.79, Waitrose) is a deep, rounded red with leafy, blackcurrant flavours.

Finally, the excellent lemon and biscuit-charged Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne (£19.99 to £14.99). Provided stocks last, these commendations should lighten the dark days of January and help bring, I hope, a guid new year to you all.

Best Buys if something remains in the kitty

2008 Saint Emilion Grand Cru Bordeaux, France, 13 per cent Wine at £13 from Scotland’s biggest discounter needs to be good – and, it is. Enjoy its black cherry fruit, balanced vanilla and white pepper touches with a nice food-friendly concluding savoury grip. £12.99, Lidl

2009 Domaine Les Grands Presbyteres Wild Yeast Muscadet Sevre at Main Sur Lie Loire, France, 12 per cent

A limited edition reflecting muscadet at its best with intense grapefruit and full, slightly bready, substance. Lovely wine. £8, WoodWinter’s