We knew that Aldi had moved up the broad grocery hierarchy but it was interesting to hear Julie Ashfield (their Managing Director of Buying) suggesting one contributory factor.
She claimed that “Aldi is growing rapidly and outperforming competitors like never before, and much of this is thanks to our successful wine ranges.”
Indeed, insiders suggest that it is their goal of “bringing affordable luxury to customers” that has helped Aldi become the fastest growing wine retailer in the UK.
Supporting evidence reveals that, in the week leading up to Christmas, Aldi’s sales exceeded 3 million bottles of wine – a historic high for the company.
So, its recently launched Spring & Summer Wine Range stimulated considerable interest.
Almost all the range is under £10 and some are ‘off-the-beaten-track’ wines that may surprise (including, for instance, an Australian malbec).
The company also discerns a resurgence in sparkling wines that are alternatives to champagne – with December 2022 recording a “year-on-year” increase of 17% in total sparkling wine sales.
Enough of the background, though, let’s see what a selection of those wines actually tastes like.
Although some wines are too new to make it to the Aldi website yet, pictures and hyperlinks are included where possible to make it easier to track down the wine in question.
Let’s start in Australia
2022 Specially Selected Australian Viognier (£6.49 at Aldi): South Eastern Australia: 13.5%:
Thanks to the folk at Yalumba, Australia has been doing great things with viognier for half a century now and this brilliantly priced example (from another producer) maintains that standard.
While not as perfumed as French versions, it does offer an extra layer of freshness and does so without compromising the viscosity at which viognier excels.
Despite limited aromas, there is a real boldness to this wine’s ripe peach, red apple and mango flavours that are built into a viscous, clean yet savoury depth and contrasting tongue tingling orange acidity.
Next a familiar name
2022 Freeman’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc (£6.79 at Aldi and 12.5%abv):
This New Zealand favourite is a long-standing part of Aldi’s white wine range, but the price has been creeping slowly northwards.
Don’t let that deter you, however, it remains great value for money, compared to many rivals, even at almost £7.
Soft with evolving crispness, it features pithy grapefruit, apricot and melon flavours coupled with green herb elements and lingering acidity.
And an un-familiar companion
2022 Filos Estate Greek Chardonnay (£8.99 at Aldi and 13%):
Greece’s Amyndeon (sometimes appearing as Amindeo) is a high-altitude region in the northwest of the country where the cooler climate helps produce excellent white wines.
Understandably, the acclaimed assyrtiko grape grows there but this one is actually chardonnay – and a wine I greatly enjoyed.
It is classic in style with brilliant use of oak but is nowhere near the price it might command in other parts of the world.
Smoky with a subtle vanilla background, it has soft apple, orange and lemon curd flavours supplemented by sharp tangerine acidity and touches of caramel, but with a nutty edge.
Now for some reds.
Baron Amarillo Rioja (£4.69 at Aldi and 13%):
Youthful, inexpensive Rioja tends to be focussed mainly on its fruit components rather than the oak and maturation imbued elements of, say, crianza and reservas.
That is certainly so here but this non-vintage option still provides sound, uncomplicated, everyday red wine that comfortably out-performs most other bottles at this price.
Medium bodied and – as I say – fruit driven, it has rosemary influenced cherry and loganberry flavours supported by good acidity and subtle tannin along with suggestions of chocolate and baking spice.
Moving a little further west.
2021 Mimo Moutinho Lisboa Red (£5.49 at Aldi and 13%):
Another familiar name and yet another star form Portugal, this blend is led by syrah (40%) with the residue evenly divided between touriga nacional and alicante bouschet.
The result is great value red wine that is pleasingly versatile and complex for its position on the price ladder – but will shortly appear wth a smart new label.
Vivid with aromas that seem slightly sweet, it goes on to display smooth loganberry, damson and strawberry flavours supported by good acidity with rounded smoke and milk chocolate elements – but very little tannin.
Next that Antipodean malbec.
2021 Specially Selected Australian Malbec (£9.99 at Aldi and 14.5%)
It seems that what Mendoza can do, Padthaway (almost as far south as Coonawarra) can emulate.
While that area is cooler, wetter and further from the equator than Mendoza, it can still produce tasty malbec although its style is nearer to the French versions from Cahors.
Despite its (almost) £10 price label, this version is well worth considering.
Full and dense, it contains intense bramble, black cherry and prune flavours combined with sharp acidity, gentle tannin and suggestions of liquorice, cocoa and cinnamon – note the high alcohol though.
Now to Bordeaux
2016 Chateau Pérenne (£9.99 at Aldi and 14%):
Although brilliant Bordeaux reds below £10 are like the proverbial “hen’s teeth”, success in finding them is most likely to come away from the main, well-known, production areas.
This one (almost exclusively merlot) from Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux illustrates the point well.
Even then, you have to work for your pleasure, decanting it and allowing plenty of air contact, for it to yield up its enjoyable treasures.
It will become even better, I suspect, if you store it away somewhere cool for a year or two – even though it is already six or so years old.
Medium bodied with spicy perfume, once it opens up this delivers blackberry and elderberry flavours partnered here by hints of cedar, aniseed and savoury herbs along with firm tannin but counterbalancing sharp acidity too.
Finally to a “Home Run”.
Winemaster’s Lot English Sparkling Wine Cuvee Brut (£19.99 at Aldi and 12%):
Another good illustration of the impressive results being attained by winemakers here in England with sparkling wine.
In this case the three classic “Champagne grapes” (chardonnay and the two red pinots) have been shaped into a version with significant lees-based richness rather than concentrating on the fruit elements.
Opening with yeasty aromas, the early exuberant bubbles quickly subside to reveal a beautifully fresh mouthfeel (embellished by pithy grapefruit acidity).
This serves to enliven its melon, cooked apple and subtle orange flavours that, nevertheless, play second fiddle to the wine’s lees-based richness and slightly gravelly, savoury finish.
Multi-Buy News from Eddie
Asda gets in first announcing their new deal of buy six bottles and get 25% off.
It starts today and runs to Monday May 8th covering two Bank Holiday Mondays and the Coronation Weekend.
We can never be certain about the best price-point bottles as things might change over the 12 day period.
Here, though, a light, fresh Provençal Rosé that starts at £9 will become £5.25.
That looks interesting and good value but to be safe here is something we do know.
This is the cheapest of Brian's recommended Trivento Malbecs from last week starting at £8, down to £6.50, hence £4.88.
Recently tried is this Extra Special Carménère that showed well and starts at £7.25, down to £6.50 and then £4.88.
And for me the always excellent and highly regarded Torres Sangre-de-Torro that will be £4.50.
Then there is the superb Italian Via Vincini Gran Rosso that is normally £8, £4.50 as well.
Whatever other grocery items are badly affected by inflationary prices, wine does get a very much better shout while these pricings last.
A Final Quick Word from Eddie
Stop Press … from Sainsbury's who are offering “25% off if you buy any 6 bottles over £5 starting on April 26th”
The press release and website info' is a little muddled and can't make up its mind if it finishes on May 2nd, or more likely on May 7th.
I guess you will have to look and make sure what-is-what to be certain, but there are currently a few very decent bottles that have a reduced shelf price that work as a double dip. Good hunting!
After today’s glimpse of wines from a single retailer as the main theme, it’s back to budget (but great value) fare from more than one source in Monday’s Top Tip selections.
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