Healthy on the budget

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January is probably my least favourite month, a real anti-climax after the indulgences of December. The bank balance looks dismal, the birds aren’t singing, the mornings are dark, the evenings even darker, and Mother Nature treats us with disdain. So to keep the bank manager friendly, I have chosen some ‘budget-healthy’ wines to sip and enjoy in front of a roaring fire on a dark, damp evening.

Clos le Joncal, Rouge Classique, AOC Bergerac, 2012 €6,00

Grapes : Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon

Joelle Tatard is making some wonderful, fruity, elegant wines – great value for money. Deep purple colour, with shades of violet. The nose suggests aromas of ripe red fruits, with hints of blackcurrant. This wine is supple, full bodied and well balanced with soft tannins. Lovely on its own as an aperitif, or with red meats and perfect with a confit de canard.

Domaine St Etienne, ‘Les Albizzias’, 2013, Côtes du Rhône, AOP, €7.50

A new discovery thanks to a client who resembles George Clooney ! Grapes : Grenache, Syrah, Carignan

Dark, inky robe, with mouth-watering gourmet aromas. Black fruits : dark cherries and wild blackberries , mocha coffee, with hints of thyme. Palate is lovely and fruity, with silky tannins, and a well balanced acidity, giving a delightful freshness. Lingers on the mid-palate with its complexity of flavours. Creamy, fruity finish, not overly long but very more-ish. A delicious winter-warming fruity wine, ideal with venison, beef, lamb, or just sitting in front of a roaring fire, with a pizza and a good film.

Mas de L’Oncle, ‘Plaisir’, Saint Guilhem Le Desert, (Pic St Loup), €9,50Grapes: Merlot; Grenache

Delicate nose with red fruit aromas, tinged with dark chocolate, followed by notes of liquorice. Palate is very elegant, well structured, with good balance. Light bodied, with a fine liquorice finish. Ideal with charcuterie, tapas, cheese, chocolate dessert and sweet and sour dishes.