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Roger's recommendations for Winter

Wintertime may be miserable with the short days, cold and dismal weather and a distinct lack of anything good going on. However, there is some wonderful food to be had and therefore some great wines to wash them down.

I remember some years ago, going to Italy and my next-door neighbour immediately came to meet me as I arrived to give me the news that a hare had been eating the bark on my fruit trees and that the harvest the following year would be dreadful. Well, they were very young so I wasn’t anticipating anything great. “Would you like to come for lunch?” he asked so being famished I said yes, tell me what we’ll be eating and I’ll bring a bottle. “Hare,“ he said with a gleam in his eye! So Hare and Barolo it was and very good too!

One thing I really enjoy at this time of year is The San Vicente Rioja from Sierra Cantabria. It has delicious fruit and a bold palate so just the thing for some wintertime dishes.

Another red that is great fun for this time of year is the Aromes Sauvages from Chateau Viranel in St Chinian. It has a very expressive nose with notes of ripe black fruits, pepper, thyme, fennel, pine nuts and just a touch of musk. Arômes Sauvages - wild aromas indeed! Despite the dark brooding colour, the palate is suave and well-rounded with a great depth of flavour. A wine very definitely for game dishes and one that gives great enjoyment.

For white wine, I really enjoy the wines of Alsace but they’re so difficult to sell! Why not make some pate or terrine, It’ll keep going for days in the fridge and a delicious Pinot Gris Tradition from Sipp Mack will be a delightful accompaniment.

There’s nothing finer in white wine than some incredible Burgundy, best tell your bank manager first though! A really good alternative is being made out in South Africa by Rustenberg Estate and they name it (5 Soldiers) after 5 great pine trees on the estate. It has richness balanced by some excellent freshness and many people cannot tell the difference between this and some fine white burgundy. For Sauvignon lovers, from the same estate comes a mouthwatering offering from the cooler vineyards.

To finish there’s always a glass of something sticky and a personal favourite is again from Chateau Viranel. Their Gourmandise is again made from Alicante Bousquet but with not all of the sugar fermented out. It’s still got a kick like a mule but with chocolate deserts and Roquefort it’s sensational. It’ll even go with Christmas pudding!

Enjoy the festive season and onwards into the rest of the winter. Best wishes