We've all experienced it: waking up on January 1st with a serious hangover, feeling like you're somehow still digesting Christmas dinner and swearing off booze, cake and every other treat for the whole month of January. But, for me at least, getting through the dark months at the start of the year without a glass of wine here and there gets pretty miserable, so I've collected some lighter, fresher (and lower ABV) wines to get us through together:
Founded by two Americans who fell in love with South Africa's wild landscapes while travelling, Lubanzi is named for a dog who accompanied them on a 6-day hike up the Wild Coast. The aim was to produce delicious affordable wines with the lowest possible environmental footprint (they are certified climate neutral and members of 1% For The Planet) as well as giving back 50% of profits to local community projects through The Pebbles Project.
The Sparkling Rose is made of Cinsault grown on dry-farmed vineyards in the Swartland region. Aromas of fresh strawberry, rose and fynbos greet you from the glass, leading you into the palate is crisp and dry with light, frothy bubbles. A lovely choice for entertaining with some light nibbles.
A long-time customer (and staff) favourite here at Butler's, Quinta da Raza's Vinho Verde is a delightfully refreshing white with the very light spritz typical of the style. A family estate making wine in the area since 1769, Quinta da Raza blend the local grapes Arinto, Azal and Trajadura in this wine to achieve its ideal balance between fruit and acidity.
It has a delicate fruity aroma of green apple, Asian pear and lime zest with a subtle hint of seasalt. The palate is light and fresh, with more mineral notes and citrus fruits. It is perfect for salads and fish, ideal for those trying to eat healthy in the New Year!
A superb value white from the west of Spain, this Verdejo makes a splendid alternative to a Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyards are located at altitude in the hills west of Valladolid and the grapes are picked at night to ensure freshness. Citrus fruits, particularly grapefruit, are complemented on the nose by hints of pineapple. The palate is light and dry, with green apple fruit and herbaceous notes. It goes perfectly with my favourite simple winter salad - just mix together radicchio leaves, orange segments and good olive oil and serve with a glass of this.
Affectionately dubbed 'Pizza Wine' by some of our regular customers, this is a juicy red that also goes deliciously with spicier foods. Mandrarossa have vineyards across the many unique terroirs of Sicily, from the coast into the mountains. The vineyards for the Costadune Frappato are located on the South Coast, near Menfi, at 250 metres above sea level. The wine is made without the use of oak to ensure all of the fruity and floral aromas that are this variety's signature are preserved.
On the nose you find pomegranate, wild strawberry and sour cherry with a hint of sweet spices. The tannins are very soft and there is a lovely juicy acidity, like biting into fresh red cherries. Its smooth fruity finish suits serving lightly chilled.
Ca dei Maghi have been producing wines in Valpolicella since the 1950s. In 2011 Paolo Creazzi took over from his uncle Fernando and has brought a new attention to detail as well as a desire to innovate. This single-varietal Corvina comes from his new range of wines made as IGT Veneto rather than Valpolicella, aiming to display the authentic flavour of the local grape varieties typically blended together. They produced just 2585 bottles of this unique and ethereal red so get one whilst you can!
Very pale, translucent red in colour, this has a stunning aroma of roses and raspberries, with a hint of aniseed. On the palate the body is light but the flavour is vivid and persistent, with a long and silky finish. It makes an outstanding pairing with a tuna steak, or as an accompaniment for a selection of charcuterie.
Mendoza, home of big burly Malbecs, probably doesn't come to mind for many when thinking of delicate low-alcohol wines. The historic vines of Criolla Chica in the region however challenge this preconception. One of the original grape varieties brought to the Americas by Spanish colonists, most Criolla vineyards in Mendoza have been lost, replaced by the more marketable Malbec. This wine however comes from a new vineyard of Criolla planted by the Durigutti family in 2015 to attempt to expand the spread of this historic variety in the region.
Farmed organically and fermented with native yeast in concrete eggs this is a bright and juicy red wine. Floral jasmine and violent scents mingle with red berries and pink grapefruit on the silky palate.