Next week sees the launch of the next Lidl Wine Cellar Collection but, for today, the spotlight is on the other premium discounter – Aldi.
Apparently eschewing the “promotion every two months” structure, Aldi seem to prefer more themed initiatives.
Whatever the format, it does work because wine sales there grew by 7% last year alone – and not only is quality sound but the value for money is terrific.
As usual, click on any picture for an enlarged image to help you find the bottle in a crowded display.
Modern casual drinking Vinho Verde
Emphatically shaking off its unfortunate Seventies image, Vinho Verde is the perfect weekend garden wine and this example keeps the reins firmly on its two notoriously “acid head” grapes (arinto and loureiro) so that all the fruit content can shine through brightly.
So, enjoy the lime, red apple and even tropical fruit elements of 2016 Animus Vinho Verde (£4.99 and 10.5% abv) which all delightfully combine with the wine's underlying freshness and with the gentle acidic prickle that accentuates it.
Taking the mystery out of France
We stick at that price point but concentrate on Aldi’s efforts to de-mystify French wines (even creating phonetic regional names) – and turn to my pick of the four wines this exercise involves; this one is from a really impressive corner of Languedoc.
Dark in colour but with a mild edge of sweetness, 2015 Pardon My French Minervois ‘Men are from Mars’ (£4.99 and 13%) has cherry, plum and cranberry fruit with firm acidity supported by cinnamon and cocoa centred depth but only limited tannin.
Moving east to Sicily
The name of a similarly priced Italian red reminds us of the potential volcanic ferocity of Mount Etna but the more single minded drinkers will probably focus a little more on the wine's use of the classic Italian appassimento technique of drying grapes to heighten their intensity.
That process certainly works well with the soft but textured and concentrated 2016 The Fire Tree Sicilian Nero D’Avola Appassimento (£4.99 and 14.5%) with suggestions of herbs, vanilla and white pepper behind its floral blackcurrant and damson fruit.
From Italy's toe to its heel
Stay in that country but move from Sicily to Puglia and step up the price point a little for something of a rarity – a primitivo from Italy that actually uses the grape’s American name, zinfandel; something I cannot recall seeing before.
Stocks are limited of 2014 Grande Alberone Zinfandel (£7.99 and 15%) but its ripe, sweet edged loganberry and cassis fruit makes it well worth seeking out – as does the wine’s smooth minty, butterscotch and all-spice background, firm acidity and gentle tannin.
And the first rosé of summer
Since that gateway to summer – the rosé season – is just opening, here is a slightly unusual version from Marlborough made for Aldi by a winemaker who will be familiar to Naked Wines devotees – Liam McElhinney.
While avoiding the confected style of too many inexpensive alternatives, there is actually a sweeter baseline to 2016 Exquisite Collection Pinot Noir Rosé (£6.99 and 13%) but that is completely in balance with the wine’s raspberry, rhubarb and morello cherry fruit and shrewdly offset by acidic vibrancy and creamy texture.
Best of the Rest
Pre price rise warning
Just off-dry with attractive touches of honey and red apple, 2016 Pierre-Jean Sauvion Chenin Blanc (£5.99 at Majestic and 12%) also has good counterbalancing acidity and an appealing textured background of caramel, hazelnut and banana.
Well priced Chianti alternative
Sangiovese from Rubicone, rather than the principal chianti region, just to its south, is gaining recognition and this example helps to show why with its softer tannin and, probably because of that, more clearly defined fruit than some full-on chianti.
Certainly the cherry, raspberry and ripe plum flavours have definite vitality in 2015 Vino Lascito Sangiovese (£6 – instead of £8 from yesterday until 26 June – at Tesco and 13%) and sit well with the wine’s cinnamon, thyme and vanilla depth.