Now we're into March, spring time is upon us at last.
Whilst there's still a slight chill in the air, we thought what better time than to focus on some perfect reds for Spring - lighter styles that can bring us into the warmer months.
These range from some classic Pinot Noir to Austrian Zweigelt and are great to pair with spring salads and lamb - and if we're really lucky with the weather, even the BBQ in the garden...
Some of the world's finest Pinot Noir is grown in France up in Burgundy and whilst you can find some fantastic expressions from all around the world, this little number from Limoux in the Languedoc offers fantastic value for money, delivers vibrant, fresh red berry fruit and a silky smooth finish.
There's no oak ageing here - keeping that primary fruit at the core of the wine is the goal right throughout the process. The vineyards are kept cool by the Mediterranean sea breeze and are planted up in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains.
Valpolicella is one of northern Italy's best know red wines. Amarone is the region's super premium export with its dried grapes and intense, boozy fruit, but this Valpolicella Classico is an entirely different ball game.
This is fresh, light and juicy. There's no drying of the grapes here, and no oak, a common theme with these wines as freshness and purity of fruit is what the winemakers are looking for. A blend of Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella, this is made to enjoyed in its youth. Expect intense maraschino cherries, raspberries and strawberries with a crunchy fruit texture and refreshing finish. A great option if you're having a charcuterie board or nibbles before dinner.
First thing that might spring to mind when you think of Austrian wine is Grüner Veltliner, probably its most popular export. However, the Roter Veltliner and Muller Thurgau varietals also make some wonderful wines and Zweigelt undoubtedly comes out top as the country's best red grape variety. This is the star of the show here.
Arnold Holzer is barely older than myself and having taken over the winery from his parents in 2010 at the tender age of 22, it's fair to say he's doing a cracking job. Being the fifth generation of his family to run the vineyards in the Wagram region, he's grown up working around the place and has plenty of family support. This classic, uncomplicated Zweigelt has the grape's signature sour red cherry tang, crunchy acidity and light tannins.
A selection of our favourite, lighter spring reds simply wouldn't be complete with a Beaujolais.
Fleurie is one of the region's best known villages for creating fruit forward, juicy reds with the nickname 'The Queen of Beaujolais'. The primary grape variety here is Gamay Noir and the aromatics these wines produce are at once vibrant and delicate. Dark cherries and blueberries dance out of the glass with yet more fruit on the palette and a hint of dried prunes on the finish. The tannins are light and the acidity is really bright, making it a great pairing with white meat dishes. Simple one pot chicken with lemon and green beans would work a treat.
Whilst Marlborough, New Zealand may be more famous for it's Sauvignon Blanc the Pinot Noir coming out of the region is really top drawer.
Hawksdrift is a family owned estate in the Dillons Point region of Marlborough where Murray & Robyn Butt were among the first to pioneer growing grapes. The vineyards here are now around 20 years old now and the long, warm ripening season leads to perfectly matured fruit and fully developed flavours. At Hawksdrift they ferment and age most of their wines in oak barrels, the pinot noir spends around 18 months before bottling. This gives a delicate spice and a smooth, round texture. As you'd expect it's filled with juicy red cherries and raspberries with a hint of wild herbs and liquorice. A great red to try with roasted lamb.
Mas Blanch i Jove are a small winery with around 17 hectares of vines in the Costers del Segre region of Catalonia.
Their vineyards are intertwined with olive trees and artistic sculptures. The farming here has been certified organic since 2015 and there is no use of herbicides or pesticides in the vineyard. These are really forward thinking, progressive winemakers with lots to be applauded for. All wines are vegan and the team go one step further in terms of a more sustainable approach by powering their whole winery through solar energy.
Mas Blanch I Jove use a number of vessels for ageing and the Garnacha for this wine is split into three lots, aged in Amphora, French oak barrels and stainless steel for six months, before being blended back together.
The resulting wine is an explosion of fruit with concentrated cherries, strawberries, fresh oranges and ripe plums. It's backed up with a clean minerality, crunchy acidity and a savoury balsamic character on the finish. A great way to start a Spanish-themed evening if you were going to have some Manchego, quince jelly and freshly sliced Jamon.
We have a case which includes all six wines with a 10% saving here.