Wines of The Month: January

Wine expert Joanna Simon presents her picks of the month, featuring a red to see you through the cold weather and a white that makes the perfect accompaniment to pasta dishes


Co-op Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2014, Rhône, France

If you're looking for a heartwarming, generous red to see you through the cold weather, this Châteauneuf-du-Pape is just the wine, whether you're eating a roast, a casserole, a vegetarian cassoulet or a pizza. You can even pop it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes and serve it slightly cool - the rich, dark fruit, nutty, sweet earth and smoked paprika spice notes are just as appetizing when a little cooler than usual. The people behind it are the Perrin family of the acclaimed Châteauneuf-du-Pape estate Château de Beaucastel, which goes a long way to explaining the quality. The Co-op still doesn't sell wines on line, but this wine is in almost all 2,800 stores.


Henry Fessy Beaujolais-Villages 2015, France

The 2015 vintage was brilliant for Beaujolais, from straight Beaujolais to the ten appellations in their own right at the top, the crus such as Fleurie and Morgon. Henry Fessy is the only producer to make wine in nine of the ten, but the 2015 cru wines won't be ready for shipping until next year. In the meantime, the generous, strawberry-perfumed Beaujolais-Villages (a step up from straight Beaujolais) is here and ready to drink, although even this benefits from a bit of air-time in the glass because of the extra ripeness and concentration in 2015. Good red Beaujolais is notably food-friendly and it's also the sort of wine that people who normally only drink white often enjoy, which makes it useful to have on standby. Serve it cool, but don't chill it to death.


Hommage du Rhône Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2015, Rhône, France

White Châteauneuf-du-Pape comes into the same category as the white Rioja I recommended last month: everyone knows the red version, but the white, a relative rarity, is pretty well below the radar. Hommage du Rhône is cheaper than many, even more so at the current 25% off price, but it's full of charm and very much a winter white (although don't let that stop you buying some for the summer). It's full-bodied and rounded with a spicy, leafy freshness on the nose and floral, peach and soft but fresh citrus flavours on the palate. If you want to think of it another way: it's the antithesis of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. In fact the grape varieties are Grenache Blanc (mainly) Clairette and Roussanne. You can drink it on its own, but it's a good candidate for poultry, pork, veal or fish or pasta in cream sauces.


Domaine Jones Fitou 2014, Fitou, France

The key to the quality and character of this dark, richly fruity Fitou is the age of the vines: most are more than a century old. They produce miserly quantities, but the compensation is the flavour of the grapes and, in turn, the complex, concentrated wine with its spicy black fruit, herb, nutmeg and dark chocolate flavours, its smoothness and freshness. The vines are Carignan, Grenache and Syrah - typical of Fitou and the wider Languedoc region - and they belong to Katie Jones, who branched out on her own as a vigneron in 2008 after 16 years in Fitou working for the local wine co-operative. She's proved to be a brilliant winemaker, as well as a genius at finding and nurturing old parcels of vines, and produces a range of reds and whites (sold at among other places). She now also makes a wine with her husband, a fellow grower who she married last year. It's called Me & Monsieur Jones - what else? - and is sold by Naked Wines. Her husband's own wine (also recommended) is Domaine des Rebouls, sold by Yapp Bros. Share Domaine Jones Fitou with red meat, game, duck, including casseroles, slow-roast pork belly or hard cheeses such as Manchego, Parmesan and cheddar.

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