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Bumper Monthly Edition with 20 Recommended Wines

As regulars will know, each month I combine several popular features into one major post that reads more like magazine content than a web post.

The lead item in today’s edition is the latest “Discounter Discoveries” pinpointing new wines (or vintages) in one of the two premium discounters.

Today, it is the turn of Aldi.

Also included are my customary review online wines (Pick of the Clicks) and the look at special occasion wines (my “Sunday Best” feature).

The latest Talent Scout report was also scheduled to appear today but space demands mean that will be held over until next week.

Where possible, hyperlinks and pictures are provided but many of the first selections from Aldi are only available in the company's “bricks and mortar” stores.

Filling Marlborough’s shoes?

With numerous reports of the reduced availability of New Zealand sauvignon blanc, the race is on to provide alternatives – with South Africa and, as here, Chile making good cases.

Versions from Chile tend to be less grassy and assertive than those from New Zealand with, perhaps, more rounded citrus elements and sometimes more tropical fruit flavours.

Possibly without those tropical fruit elements, 2021 Specially Selected Chilean Sauvignon Blanc (£5.99at Aldi and 12.5% abv) nevertheless delivers appealing gooseberry and green pepper flavours that are laced with grapefruit acidity and an underpinning minty (but largely savoury) base.

Classy Greek White

Very much a rising star among Greek whites, assyrtiko has a reputation as supercharged Chablis but, here, its orchard fruit components seem softer and riper than that despite a 10% sauvignon blanc contribution.

Smooth and rich, 2021 Aspri Petra Greek Assyrtiko (£6.99 at Aldi and 13%) features aromatic, yet restrained, pear and baked apple flavours supported by lively lemon acidity, a creamy texture, flinty savouriness and hints of butterscotch.  

Ideal summer red wine

With summer approaching, it is time to seek out those lighter reds that relish being slightly chilled and Austria’s zweigelt grape provides exactly that.

Dark in colour but very light in texture, 2021 Specially Selected Austrian Zweigelt (£6.99at Aldi and 13%) has juicy raspberry and cherry flavours with lively acidity, hints of white pepper, chocolate and allspice but minimal tannin.

Gentle, great value red wine

It’s that delightful (if unpronounceable) Romanian grape again bringing us gentle yet flavourful, well priced red wine that is given a boost here with 20% of both syrah and cabernet franc.

Medium bodied and soft, 2020 Dealuri Romanian Fetească Neagră (£6.49 at Aldi and 13.5%) exhibits floral raspberry flavours complemented by cola, caramel and baking spice influences, good acidity and smooth tannins.

Chianti Lite perhaps

The latest vintage has been producing some excellent chianti many of them softening the traditional dense, cherry, nuts and firm tannin features of old.

Here that has been aided by blending in small proportions of cabernet sauvignon and merlot to create a less tightly textured version but one retaining clear chianti elements and, especially, bouquet.

Enticingly aromatic, 2020 Castellore Chianti (£4.49 at Aldi and 13%) provides soft and medium bodied cherry and red plum flavours with good acidity, modest tannin and suggestions of star anise, herbs and marzipan.

Online Options

To match most MidWeekers’ preferences, today’s selections largely concentrate on wines in Aldi’s physical stores, but the retailer does have a range of online wines.

Here are a couple of them that I enjoyed and felt subscribers would like to hear about.

Turbo charged Malbec

Argentinian malbec often seems lighter and softer than the original French versions but this one from Mendoza has real power with flavours of darker fruits than those raspberry and red cherry elements frequently found there.

Inky in colour and vigorous in style, 2019 Cocodrilo Argentinian Malbec (£9.99 online at Aldi and 14%) has ripe blueberry and prune flavour nicely integrated with lively acidity, sage, chocolate and baking spice components but surprisingly soft tannin.

Famous name but different colour

White Chateauneuf is a niche wine and, frankly, I often find better value in other Rhone whites but this is a stylish and muti-faceted version that is a cut above many and will repay investigation if £20 white wine is your thing.

Textured and smooth, 2020 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc (£19.99 at Aldi and 13.5%) delivers herbal apple, quince and melon flavours supported by good acidity and a finish that merges coconut and chalky elements into a sophisticated savoury base.

Sunday Best

Gorgeous Grenache

Viña Koyle in its current form is a relatively new (2006) Chilean operation with over a dozen red grape varieties under cultivation and this is a wonderful example of its take on what the world knows as grenache.

Soft and full, 2019 Koyle Cerro Basalto Garnatxa (£14.95 at The Wine Society and 14.5%) offers us intense raspberry, plum and cherry flavours accompanied by firm acidity, a touch of tannin and hints of lavender, black cherry and clove that run into a long and complex finish.

Beautiful Burgundy

While Cȏte d’Or provides the kings of white Burgundy (with, naturally, sky high prices to match), ambitious growers and helpful terrains make the southern Mȃconnais district of Pouilly Fuissé a place for more affordable (but never cheap) quality chardonnay.

Aromatic with a creamy texture, 2020 Pouilly Fuisse Domaine Damien Martin (£22.99 at Virgin Wines and 13%) exhibits clean pear, ripe melon and cooked apple flavours enlivened by bright lemon peel acidity and ably supported by gentle caramel influences and a savoury backdrop.  

(Sunday) Best of the Rest.

All great wines that I can thoroughly recommend and award my Seal of Approval.

  • 2019 Plaimont St Mont Les Cépages Préservés (£10 at Sainsburys): Balanced quince and honey influenced white wine with sharp tangerine acidity and from local grapes.
  • 2021 The Ned ‘Skyscraper’ Sauvignon Blanc (from £9.99 at Majestic):  Ripe and intense Marlborough white from an elevated site and containing a fabulous long, zesty pineapple, pear and orange flavour range.
  • 2020 Domaine Emile Balland La Balbuzard Sauvignon Blanc (£10 at WoodWinters): Subtle Loire sauvignon with floral aromas and ripe apple, grapefruit and pear components.
  • 2021 Whispering Angel Jubilee Edition (around £20 from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Majestic): Fantastically complex rosé opening with savoury and chocolate elements but moving onto red currant and watermelon flavours with grapefruit acidity.
  • 2020 Barón de Barbón Oak Aged Rioja (from £10.49 at Laithwaite): Smooth, dense cherry and mulberry centred red wine with herbal elements and bright acidity.
  • 2018 Tenuta Serranova Ottavianello (£12.25 at Great Grog Edinburgh): Cherry and blackberry flavours with smoked meat, aniseed and mineral background from the grape better known as cinsault.

Pick of the Clicks

Here is my selection from wines available online but remember there may be a delivery charge to add to the prices shown.

An Italian Smoothie

Its closeness to the English word “suave”, highlights how smooth and refined the best Soave wines (a speciality of north-eastern Italy) should be.

While not all versions get it right, this one clearly illustrates what complex, balanced and skilfully crafted Soave is like.

Slightly viscous with a vague nuttiness, 2020 Fattori Gregoris Soave (£9.50 at www. woodwinters.com) brings us textured, cooked apple and melon flavours, sharp lemon acidity and brine savouriness moderated by honey and orange elements.

Sticking with that part of Italy

Northern Italy’s ripasso techniques pass basic Valpolicella red over the skins and lees left behind from the production of that region’s stellar Amarone wine.

That adds impressive richness and sweetish hints yet the finished article still costs much less than top level Amarone.

Rounded and smooth, 2019 Villa Borghetti Valpolicella Ripasso (from £9.99 at Majestic) brings us concentrated damson and red currant flavours supported by good acidity (but limited tannin) and suggestions of clove, vanilla and chocolate.

Other Rich Clickings:

  • 2019 Pepe Mendoza Mares de Luz Monastrell Giro, Alicante (£9.75 at The Wine Society):  Blackberry and cherry flavours complemented by traces of thyme, cocoa and the sweeter spices.
  • 2020 Classic Sauvignon Blanc, Domaine Beauséjour (£9.99 at Adnams): Floral, with subtle cooked apple, lemon balm and melon flavours and a contrasting savoury finish.
  • 2020 Curious Parallel (£9.99 at Virgin Wines): Medium bodied Romanian red with sweetish elements and soft, spicy mulberry and blackcurrant flavours.

STOP PRESS:

Yesterday, Sainsbury’s started a “Buy 6; Save 25%” promotion that is scheduled to run until 2 May. Do check their website for the applicable Terms and Conditions.

Call in on Monday when I reveal my latest Top Tips and again on Thursday when the focus shifts to High Street promotions.


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Comments

13 Comments

Steve Perry

Great to read of the latest Aldi offerings, pound for pound I just don’t think their selections can be beaten, certainly my “go to” for most things wine related. I reckon on average, one could pay perhaps £2 a bottle less for a similar wine that can be found at other supermarkets.

Brian Elliott

Hard to disagree Steve. Both premium discounters (Lidl and Aldi) have been major disrupters in the wine market as in everything else. Other retailers do also have good stories to tell, however. Morrisons wine range has some stars and Sainsbury’s are being pleasingly radical in what they do. Never overlook the Co-op either; they have excellent (and, crucially, long standing) buyers and – consequently – some great wines.

Erik Burgess

Great write up Brian. I am sure that Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc at Aldi was available in our local store reduced to £14.99. after reading your review may well be worth a pay day purchase tomorrow if still available.

Brian Elliott

Hi Erik …. Good to hear from you again. Do give that white a go at that price but check the vintage. The one I tasted was 2020.

Richard from Leeds

Hi all,
Am a regular in the Aldi Wine aisle. Thanks yet again Brian for the tips and more excuses to top up the wine rack’s empty spaces.
Seems of late Aldi have moved the ever increasing store & online range upwards into higher price levels offering some bigger familiar names but with corresponding (albeit discounted) much higher prices. Have found time & again though that big name & big price (from all sources) usually just fail to deliver anything better than my normal much more budget choices.
Have found in time, and with MWW assistance, that very good drinking can be found, if & when correctly presented and food paired etc, well under £8 if researched or spot bought on recommends.
Cheers Brian & to all …

Brian Elliott

Thanks Richard; your last paragraph sums up what MidWeek Wines is all about so it is gratifying for that to be recognised. As you imply, judiciously selecting own label offerings is often a great way to optimise value for money. I fancy however, that your £8 figure may come under increasing strain. When Aldi and Lidl move up the price ladder you know that keeping quality where they (and we) want it is coming under real pressure. What was £5.99 last year is often up by a pound this time around.

John Farndon

Many thanks for your splendid recommendations Brian, much appreciated!
I notice that Lidl seems to have stopped its weekly special offer on wine to customers in England. Do you know anything about this or is it just a one-off because they have a beer promotion?

Brian Elliott

Good question John and something that will interest many others. I understand that Lidl have moved the promotion slightly so that wine offers in England are now part of their “Super Weekend” offerings which apply on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the respective weeks. Good time to ask, incidentally, as tomorrow’s pair look tasty (Provence rosé down from £7.49 to £5.99 and their excellent gruner veltliner down from £5.99 to an astonishing £4.29).

John Farndon

Thanks for your response Brian but as previously mentioned the Lidl website states this weekend’s offers are only available in Scotland and Wales! I always look out for their offers as they simply can’t be beaten for simple everyday drinking. Perhaps they have a supply problem for England?

Brian Elliott

John …. I am told that, for some reason, the website defaults to the Scottish and Welsh prices. If your local store is in England, enter it on the store finder after you arrive on the “Gruner” page and then scan down the offers again and you will find the Gruner offer for England.
Alternatively, download the Lidl Plus app., which will be tuned to your local store, and scan right down the current leaflet.
I am no authority on web sites but I hope that makes sense and works for you.

Eddie Walker

Hello Brian. I had a bottle of the Aldi Assyrtico some time ago and enjoyed it a lot. Though I’ve not had the Aldi Zweigelt I am rather partial to the grape and the Sainsbury’s offering is also very good. But the best of the notifications/recommendations for me personally is, on two counts, the Aldi Castellore Chianti! Yes, seems the current vintage on the shelves for this red, 2020, is working out well so we are getting the best of a good crop across the board. But that money, £4.49, is amazing at today’s prices. It just makes me want to rush out and get a couple of bottles for the weekend and rustle up some tomato-y pasta and dive in! The evocation is that strong. And with added Bordeaux style grapes it begins to come closer for me to the Maremma and Bolgheri in particular that I appreciate so much. It’s a treat in waiting and such value. As ever …thank you …

Brian Elliott

Good, as ever, to have your thoughts, Eddie. Excellent point that had not occurred to me – how that Chianti was moving towards the wines of what some call Tuscany’s Gold Coast around Maremma. The only word of warning about the chianti itself (and other inexpensive versions) is that while lavishly pushing the fruit forward, the texture is significantly reduced. Lovers of dense, tannin rich chianti may rue that trade off. That said, the aromas the moment you pour a glass really ought to be bottled by Chanel for wine lovers.

Eddie Walker

Thank you for the developed appraisal Brian. I do now have 2 bottles in my possession and one Zweigelt too!!! Too much temptation there! I take your point entirely on typicity and would suggest the newest Lidl Chianti Riserva offering we’ve spoken about before are in the same less dense category. But to have some well-made Sangiovese of any particular character that comes from that ‘right place’ is to me a bonus in itself, given its only a 10 minute car ride from here to have it. It’s interesting the reaction from more than one person I know who will never choose Sangiovese; they just don’t geddit! Fair enough, we all have our personal choice to satisfy. But maybe this Chianti might change their mind?


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