I have been a bit slow catching up with the current Lidl Wine Tour but have now selected what, for me, are three top options from the batch in that retailer’s stores at the moment.
We should, however, be back posting on Day One of the promotion when the next Wine Tour is launched – which I believe will be on 26 September.
For now, though, let’s take a look at a couple of impressive reds and a New Zealand pinot gris that I would score significantly higher than the 85 points it is awarded on the Lidl website.
Also today, we have a Top Tip about two brand new arrivals in Aldi, an alert about a promotion at M&S as well as the usual Best of the Rest.
As ever, use the picture to guide you towards the wine in store because I, too, struggle to locate certain wines from their names alone – and I know exactly what I am looking for.
Great price for tasty pinot gris
First up is a New Zealand pinot gris, so this is a good time to dwell on something I am often asked – what is the difference between pinot gris and pinot grigio, since both are from the same grape?
In essence, wines labelled as pinot grigio tend be ripe, floral, tropical fruit based and often from warmer regions.
Its alter ego (pinot gris) is usually orchard fruit based with more acidity because it is frequently from cooler areas where the grapes do not ripen as quickly or fully.
True to form Gisborne’s 2018 Winemaker's Selection Pinot Gris (£5.99 at Lidl and 12.5% abv) has textured pear and quince fruit with green apple based acidity but there is also an edge of sweetness courtesy of its supplementary peach and ripe melon components.
Across the Pacific
Quite often, these Lidl Wine Tours have a classy Chilean red tucked away and this is no exception with a sturdy but impressive blend that adds a portion of carmenere to the usual Colchagua suspects (merlot and cabernet).
Full – with mulberry, blackberry and damson fruit – 2017 Viajero Cuvée Especial Colchagua (£6.99 and 14%) also has firm acidity and suggestions of chocolate, mint and oregano with graphite depth but surprisingly gentle tannin.
Then to Italy
Maremma Toscana is a relatively new DOC region on Italy’s western coast producing interesting (and, increasingly, hugely impressive) red wines and this is a good mid-priced example of what the area does well.
Smooth but with slightly chewy tannin, 2018 Maremma Toscana Rosso (£7.99 and 13.5%) delivers full and weighty black cherry fruit but with an appealing assembly of supporting flavours including chocolate, clove, thyme and even hints of tomato.
BEST OF THE REST
A Recovering Giant
Time was when Muscadet was the simple white wine of choice until others ruthlessly supplanted it but (helped by warmer summers I guess) a revival is under way as illustrated by this well priced M&S version.
Light in body but with textured softness 2018 Loire Muscadet (£6 at M&S and 11.5%) adds an edge of sweetness to its ripe melon, red apple and white peach fruit but livens the whole thing up with concluding lime acidity.
Eastern European pinot again
As I have said before, as prices go up for pinot from traditional areas so we must find new sources and, happily, areas like Romania (and, in this case, Hungary) are coming to the rescue.
The well-made but great value 2017 Chapel Hill Pinot Noir (£5.79 – instead of £7.79 until 10 September – at Waitrose and 11%) may lack the depth of expensive options but still delivers tasty, floral raspberry and cherry fruit with spicy touches and nippy orange peel acidity yet only limited tannin.
SUNRISE …. SUNSET
While the current M&S promotion comes to an end next week (26 August) it is going out with a bang not a whimper.
For the last four days of the promotion (from tomorrow – 22 August), however, a 25% discount will apply to all cases of six or more bottles. That, of course, is subject to the usual exceptions (such as Scottish stores).
Even better for prosecco lovers, the six bottle reduction runs for a further week – until 2 September – on prosecco and a couple of other wines.
So, call into your local store to see what they have that will tickle your taste buds.
For me, good options from the promotions list are shown below – but, for them (and several others) the 25% reduction applies to the original price (£7) not the discounted one:
- La Huasa Sauvignon Blanc – £5.25 each if you buy six or more bottles (mixed if you like) in total, otherwise £6, and,
- La Fortezza Merlot – also £5.25 each if you buy six or more bottles (mixed if you like) in total, otherwise £6.
Tip: Keep a close eye on Portugal for great value options
I have spoken before about the quality attainable from Portuguese wines often at relatively modest price levels.
White wines from the north are a good case in point with delightful Vinho Verde getting better and better and the alvarhino grape rivalling (and sometimes bettering) Spanish versions from over the border in Rias Baixas.
Aldi are just introducing a couple of new reds though so I thought I would take an early look at them.
Fluctuations in the pound (usually the wrong way) are pushing up wine prices so these are a little more money than some Aldi reds but remain, in my view, excellent value.
The first of these new reds is from the Douro, famous of course for port production, but increasingly diversifying into table wines often (as here) featuring “port” grapes like touriga nacional and tinta roriz (tempranillo).
Soft and smooth, 2017 Gloria Reserva Douro (£7.29 at Aldi and 13.5%) has plum and cherry fruit with good acidity, gentle tannin and touches of herbs, cocoa and baking spices.
The other wine is from the Dao region – a little further south and an area of high vineyards where the granite based geology seems to be reflected in the additional weightiness of the wine.
Twenty years ago, this region produced (if we are honest) pretty ordinary red wines but modern winemaking has enabled fantastic progress to be made – with the potential for even more.
Predictably full and rich 2016 Salicornia Reserva Dao (£6.99 at Aldi and 13%) has floral loganberry and damson fruit with fresh acidity, limited tannin and suggestions of mocha, cinnamon, liquorice and black pepper.
Both are recommended for early inspection by MidWeekers with a fondness for flavour and substance.
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