MY TOP treat for the New Year and to get over those festive blues is a rather fantastic Merlot from South Africa – the Peacock Ridge Label Merlot 2011, from False Bay, available at Windermere and Ambleside wine stores for £9.99 a bottle.

This Merlot, from the Western Cape, is matured in stainless steel vats (which gives full, fruit expression) and then in French oak barrels (which adds flavour from the oak to finished product). When poured, the merlot has an intense ruby colour, which is followed by a nose of plum and cherry with darker, fruit aromas -which come from the 12 per cent of Cabernet Sauvignon that is added - and finished with a hint of spice from time in the oak barrels.

The wine is full bodied in style and the palate shows a good driven abundance of flavours from plum, black fruits and a hint of clove and spice. This shows a lot of structure with firm tannins that smooth out, leaving a soft, fruit-driven taste in the mouth which makes it very accessible. While this wine can be put down for a year or two, it really is too good to resist and is perfect with lamb or a warming, winter stew.

  • Graeme Hedley is sommelier and expert on food and wine at Kendal College’s Lakes Hotel School