Sunny reds can blow away winter blues

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The sun has shone on Australia’s vineyards since the mid-19th century when European settlers found land suitable for farming and planting vines.

Drought and bush fires have always been an issue on the Australian wine scene, but the legacy from these ‘first growths’ is a thriving industry with hundreds of talented winemakers producing a diverse range of fine and casual wines.

To mirror the Australia Day celebrations on January 26 and toast the beginning of the wine harvest, here are some sunny reds to blow away those winter blues.

Cabernet sauvignon is one of the country’s strengths and mid-week drinkers such as Sainsbury’s House Cabernet Sauvignon, Australia (£4.29, Sainsbury’s) are fairly priced. With a whisper of spice and blackcurrant and blueberry flavours balanced by subtle tannins, it’s light on its feet but perfectly pleasant.

Elsewhere, Aldi has introduced its Exquisite Collection, a premium range of Old and New World wines, which includes a slightly richer cab sav with a bit more going on. Try The Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Australia (£6.99, Aldi), which has woody aromas and layers of blackberry, plums and light mocha with a touch of cedar and lingering tannins on the soft finish.

Smooth merlots such as The Journeyman South Australia Merlot 2011, Australia (£8.99, www.virginwines.co.uk) are so juicy, ripe and delicious that they really grab your attention and it’s easy to forget they’re higher in alcohol than cab savs. Jammy and fleshy, these dark fruits have little tannin and the wine tastes just as terrific on its own as it does with food.