Whether they were great value for money or lingered on the taste buds for their quality and character (never mind the price tag), Anthony Rose picks his top tipples for kicking off the New Year

A fragrant, attractively peachy Argentinian viognier with a freshness, opulence and peachy character not often seen in the Rhône valley variety at this price.


2002 Santa Julia Viognier £4.99, Sainsbury's

A fragrant, attractively peachy Argentinian viognier with a freshness, opulence and peachy character not often seen in the Rhône valley variety at this price.

2000 Château Boisset Pic Saint Loup Grande Cuvée £5.99, Safeway

Typical southern French blend from Pic Saint Loup with dominant syrah character, spicy, lightly peppery, rich and concentrated with a voluptuous appeal and absence of rusticity.

2000 Primitivo del Tarantino IGT £5.99, Safeway

A fine example of a southern Italian rosso of vivid colour and intense dark mulberry and damson-rich fruitiness, with no oak to get in the way of the succulently pure red fruit flavours.

2000 Casa de la Ermita, Crianza, Jumilla £6.99, Majestic (£6.49 if you buy two)

The discovery of the year. The traditional monastrell (mourvèdre) blends with tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon in a wine whose sweetly ripe blackberry fruitiness is layered with vanilla and cut by a twist of cleansing, damsony acidity.

2001 Von Buhl Armand Riesling Kabinett, Rheinpfalz £7.99, Oddbins

Delightful German featherweight white, a spritz-fresh, peach- and nectarine-flavoured beauty of an off-dry aromatic white.

2001 Villa Tonino, Nero d'Avola 'Baglio Curatolo' around £6.75, Hoults Wine Merchants, Huddersfield (01484 510700), Noble Rot Wine Warehouses, Bromsgrove (01527 575606), Wines of Interest, Ipswich (01473 215752), Noel Young, Cambridge (01223 844 744)

A sleek, modern Sicilian red with a New World touch of smoky oak and liquorice-like spiciness, powerful blackberry-like fruit with a firm backbone of tannin and acidity.

2001 Neil Ellis Stellenbosch Chardonnay £8.99, Tesco

From the safe hands of Neil Ellis, a very burgundian-style Cape chardonnay, rich and complex in its subtle flavours with the oatmealy traits derived from lees-stirring and nutty oak characters.

2002 Jackson Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc £8.99, Tesco, Majestic, Oddbins, Waitrose

The new, screw-capped vintage is pungently tropical with a piercing passionfruit and gooseberry juiciness, cut by a mouthwateringly citrus-crisp snap of bone-dry acidity.

2000 Kangarilla Road Shiraz £8.49, Majestic (buy two, save £1)

Classic, full-throttle McLaren Vale shiraz with an excitingly smoky-spicy nose and a mouthful of sweetly ripe, peppery fruitiness.

2001 Peregrine Pinot Gris, Central Otago £9.75, Berry Bros & Rudd, London SW1 (0870 900 4300)

The cool, sunny climate of New Zealand's Otago region have produced an intensely flavoured dry white with exotic undertones of gooseberry and nectarine.

2001 La Palmeria Huachos Estate Cabernet Sauvignon £9.99 Oddbins. Thoroughly well-crafted, ripe, chocolatey Chilean cabernet sauvignon with the sumptuously ripe flavours of blackcurrant flecked with a touch of mint and juicy, succulent tannins.

OVER £10

2001 Watervale Riesling, Mount Horrocks £11.99, Philglas & Swiggot, London SW11 (020-7924 4494), Harvey Nichols

Screwcapped for freshness, this is fragrant with floral, lemon and lime aromas and elegantly dry, grapefruity aftertaste.

2000 Spice Route Flagship Syrah around £19.50, Swig (020-7903 8311), Wimbledon Winecellars (020-8944 7989), Noel Young Wines, Cambridge (01223 844744)

A brilliant Cape syrah from Charles Back that stands out for its restrained richness and the true character of the grape with those smoky, blackberryish notes and spice often found in the northern Rhône

1999 Rioja Bodegas Señorio de San Vicente £17 bottle/case (inc. delivery), Seckford Wines, Ipswich (01394 446623)

The concentration of pure tempranillo fruit allied to deft oak creates a modern red with sleek mulberry fruitiness balanced by a backbone of tannins and acidity.

1998 Tarrawarra Yarra Valley Pinot Noir £17.50-£18.99, Philglas & Swiggot, London SW11 (020-7924 4494), Barrels & Bottles, Sheffield (01142 556611)

As fresh and scented as a raspberry bush, a glorious fusion of delicately toasted oak and silk-smooth red berry fruitiness from Victoria.

1996 H Blin Champagne £18.99 Oddbins

Magnificent co-operative vintage champagne combining headily enticing aromas with full-flavoured, yeasty fruit framed by a moreishly fresh, tongue-tingling acidity.

1999 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel Around £21, Tanners, Shrewsbury (01743 234500), Adnams, Suffolk (01502 727222), Morris & Verdin, London (020-7921 5300)

Intense blend with peppery notes of petite sirah and carignane, rich with the herby undertones and vanilla from American oak and the concentration of old vine zinfandel at its seductive best.

2000 Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru En Virandot, Marc Morey £22.88 bottle/case, Haynes, Hanson & Clark, London SW1 (020-7259 0102)

Subtle oak and complex aromas herald a serious white burgundy, richly flavoured with the minerality of the terroir shining through.

2001 Clonakilla Canberra District Shiraz £22.95-£24.95, Philglas & Swiggot, London SW11 (020-7924 4494), Bennetts, Chipping Campden (01386 840 392), Haynes, Hanson & Clark, London SW1 (020-7259 0102)

Opulent Côte Rôtie-style Aussie red with clove and cinnamon spice and a distinctive twist of the pepper grinder overlaying sumptuous blackberry fruit.

1998 Allegrini La Poja around £36, Bennetts, Chipping Campden (01386 840392), Philglas & Swiggot (020-7924 4494), Noel Young Wines, Cambridge (01223 844744), Selfridges

Simply too good to be valpolicella, this is a super-ripe, super-concentrated, aromatic and herby red full of the immense dark cherry fruitiness of the corvine grape and a veneer of New World-like oak.

1 999 Artadi Pagos Viejos, Rioja £31.50-£49.50 Great Western Wines, Bath (01225 322810), Berry Bros & Rudd (0870 900 4300)

Almost 100 per cent tempranillo, one of Rioja's most exciting modern wines with a superb concentration of black cherry and raspberry fruit, refined oak and seamless fruit purity.