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Discounter Discoveries – Lidl May Wine Tour.

The latest Lidl Wine Tour is now nicely under way and supplies should be in most stores by now.

Once again, it contains around 30 wines which are listed on the usual “when it’s gone it’s gone” basis.

It does illustrate that wine prices (like food prices) are continuing to rise if you want good value options that meet the quality levels you, I (and this website) require.

As well as tasty wines, however, the content of the “Tour” also answers broader questions for wine enthusiasts – and here are four of them.

  • Which Spanish grape variety is a hot tip for continued success?
  • Where in Italy is a good source of quality, but beautifully balanced, sweet wine?
  • Which Chilean grape variety offers particularly attractive savoury influences?
  • Which Aussie region was a leader in producing unoaked chardonnay?

The six impressive wines from the “Tour” I have chosen to feature today help to answer those questions.

I hope that you, too, enjoy tasting them.

Once again, pictures and hyperlinks are included where possible to make it easier to track down the wine in question.

Starting with a trend setter.

2021 Eje Monastrell (£7.49 at Lidl while stocks last and 14% abv):

My advice for anyone looking for powerful but different red wines would be to seek out monastrell from Spain.

Largely used elsewhere for blending, the variety works brilliantly on its own – aided, in southern Spain, by the warmth and sunshine it loves – and can offer excellent value for money. 

With a fruity nose and nicely rounded, this example from Alicante has a foundation of ripe blackcurrant and plum flavours.

These are coupled with gentle tannin but lively acidity and suggestions of espresso, black pepper, aniseed and olives. 

NB:- Price on the Lidl website may be awaiting an update

What’s the opposite of a sweet tooth?

2021 Viajero Carménère Gran Reserva (£7.99 at Lidl while stocks last and 14%):

If you are a fan of fruit-charged red wine with ripe, slightly sweet edges, this is probably not for you.

It is, however, a skilfully made option that shows off the distinctive savoury qualities that the carmenere grape brings to the party.

“Coffee, grilled meat, celery and soy sauce” is how Oz Clarke describes those particular parts of the variety’s repertoire (in his excellent Grapes & Wines book).

Smooth and dense, it delivers the type of savoury backdrop Oz describes courtesy of a cocktail of elements that include mocha, dark chocolate, paprika and fig.

Other constituents in this version from Chile’s Rapel Valley are prune, dried raspberry and cherry liqueur flavours along with good citrus acidity and modest levels of tannin.

Switching to a White

2022 Müller Grüner Veltliner (£6.99 at Lidl while stocks last and 12.5%): 

If you have yet to catch up with the joys of Austria’s grüner veltliner grape this excellent and well priced example is the perfect place to start.

It is a versatile grape producing crisp and aromatic white wine which, in this case, performs well above its £7 price label.

Soft with appealing floral aromas, this one delivers smooth pear, white peach and melon flavours.

A gentle herbal finish combined with enlivening, sharp evolving acidity complete the picture.

An early adopter still doing really well.

2021 Scrubby Rise Chardonnay (£9.99 at Lidl while stocks last and 12.5%):

With a bit of elevation and cooler temperatures, Adelaide Hills is very much a rising star among Australian wine regions.

It was an early adopter of the unoaked Chardonnay style when heavily oaked versions fell out of favour and is still producing good examples – like this one.

Bright in appearance but light in colour, this brings us medium bodied red apple, melon and white plum flavours.

Accompanying elements include sharp grapefruit acidity and touches of citrus peel and lemon curd.  

Stepping up the price points.

2021 Deidesheimer Riesling Edition (£12.99 at Lidl while stocks last and 12%):

Germany’s Pfalz region remains a part of that country where riesling is king – and Mittelhaardt is the region's heartland.

There, terroir and acidity are both spectacular and at the Mittelhaardt’s southern end lies Deidesheim (home to this wine) and a place where almost all the vineyards are classified as “exceptional”.

This Deidesheimer is not a blockbuster or wine with honeyed sweetness but is an excellent example of elegant, subtle and high quality, dry riesling.

Beautifully clean and fresh, it features zesty greengage and apple flavours with a vague savoury background.

Herbal hints also emerge as part of its smooth clean depth, but all are given verve by a prickle of pink grapefruit and lime acidity.

NB: This describes the 2021 vintage, some stores may hold wine from years I have not sampled.

Ending on a sweet note

2020 Recioto di Soave (£11.99 for 50cl at Lidl while stocks last and 13%):

Full marks to Lidl for including this in the current Wine Tour since it is (a) sweet and (b) relatively dear.

It is from a region to the east of Italy’s Lake Garda and applies appassimento, post-harvest, grape drying techniques to the local garganega variety.

The result here is spectacularly good with the wine's rich sweetness beautifully counterbalanced by exactly the right amount of acidity.

Golden and delightfully aromatic, it exhibits viscous apricot, lychee and honey flavours to provide a complex and multi-dimensional sweetness.

Further complexity comes in the shape of polished marzipan and fudge components and vibrant citrus acidity to provide that essential balance.

STOP PRESS DETAILS FROM EDDIE

Following on from Asda's declaration of 25% off buy-6-bottles Sainsbury's follow suit with one that started on Wednesday 24th and will run until midnight on May Sunday 28th, to coincide with the holiday weekend. As ever there are some exclusions and conditions but be on the look out for the double-dips that make such a difference to the repeat purchasing of favourite bottles.

Tesco too have a similar 25% off buy 6 until May 29th , but it does attach to having a Tesco Clubcard as the main condition of getting their offer!

After today’s glimpse of wines at a range of prices, it’s back to budget (but great value) fare in Monday’s Top Tip selections.


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Comments

30 Comments

Paul Davies

Great list of questions,Brian.
“Which Spanish grape variety is a hot tip for continued success”?
I am not sure about “continued “as hardly anyone knows about the virtues of the Mencia grape from Galicia.Well worth seeking out for fruity red wine enthusiasts and Chardonnay from Margaret River is a top area.

Brian Elliott

Mencia is an excellent call Paul for a seriously underestimated grape and being almost a mirror image of monastrell – liking cooler climates and producing lightish wines. Laithwaite’s have a good example Cuatro Pasos Biero Mencia (from £13.49).

Eddie Walker

Morning Brian. That Lidl Gruner Veltliner has great appeal to me! I think that Austrian gem is a style worthy of consideration by anyone who appreciates a characterful white that works so well as a chilled aperitif! Just about to go to Lidl for my usual weekly shop I checked my Lidl Plus app for my voucher reductions and turned up a hidden deal Ive never seen ever. Buy 3 bottles from their intermediate de luxe range and theres 25% off!! Given much of this range is less than £6 thats more top drawer Lidl offerings at a substantial saving. Thanks and best as ever.

Brian Elliott

Thanks for spotting that Lidl promotion (no wonder you are called Eddie the Eagle eyed). As you say there are some excellent wines in that De Luxe range.

Richard Wyndham

Re Tesco 25% off offer: Recently bought Jardin De Ana, a Godello wine from Galicia. Was happy to pay £10 for this, would be excellent in a mixed case for £7.50! A fresh wine with good weight and (for me) apricots on the nose and taste. The label suggest “aromas of wild flowers and camomile”.
The mention of camomile reminds me of a past trip to Spain, where my wife would stop frequently for an espresso, but as my capacity for coffee was less I started asking for an espresso and a Manzanilla. No matter how well I pronounced it I kept being presented with camomile tea! Turns out that manzanilla is Spanish for camomile, you need to ask for “vino manzanilla” to get sherry not tea!

Brian Elliott

A cautionary tale about what to order – I had no idea that manzanilla was also the Spanish name for a herb. One zings up the taste buds while the other one (allegedly) has a soporific effect. Good suggestion, too, for that Godello – another underestimated Spanish variety albeit a white one this time.

Clare McCready

The Lidl coupon appears to be 10% off in Scotland.
Mercia appears to be on the rise in Spain; most decent wine bars will have 3 or 4 examples. Verdejo is more widely available too, and you quite often see macabeo/chardonnay mixes. I think in recent years they have increased their blending; today you would often see a monastrell combined with two or three other grapes, say a cab sauvignon, a shiraz and a grenade. So it’s this increasing variety in the internal market may soon be seen over here.

Brian Elliott

Thanks Clare, and good to hear what is happening with these varieties on their home ground. When one thinks of monastrell blends, the mind automatically goes to Rhone Valley GSM’s under, of course, its French mourvedre name. This Lidl one is a nice example of the grape as a varietal.

Eddie Walker

Hi Clare. See a reply below to Chris Barclay that includes a Scottish reference. Cheers …

Chris Barclay

Thank you Eddie for being eagle eyed regarding the 25% off on the deluxe wines from Lidl. Of course you need to have a Lidl card on your phone. To further encourage Mid Weekers “Decanter” rate the deluxe range as well with the Limestone Coast Chardy and the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc at 88/100 and and the Shiraz rated at 89/100.

If you set your bar at 92 points there is in the basic Lidl range a Chianti Reserva costing £6.49 which is not discounted.

If you like your white wines dry then you will not be disappointed at Lidl. Good for Diabetics!

I recommend the Lidl card as every 2 months I stock up on the remaindered “Wine Tour” wines and get a coupon for 10% off my next shop. It came as a blow to me that the remaindered wines jumped up recently from £3.99 to £5.99 but I set my bar at 90/100 points so still excellent value.

OK the quality of the groceries may not be up to M&S standards but if you stick to the Deluxe items the sirloin steaks seem fine to me.

Brian Elliott

That seems like a good plan Chris. Base wine purchases on a combination of Decanter assessments, Bamford points and what you read here.

Eddie Walker

Hi Chris. Yes, you need the Lidl Plus app on your phone to have the many offers Lidl gives in the way of food discounts usually, and occasional wine stuff.

I do wonder if they over complicate things at times with so many deals and offers but as ever whatever I post on Brian’s fine blog here I include the rider that we must always refer to the ”small print” when it comes to all the deals that get mentioned. As for instance the current Tesco one. You need a Tesco Clubcard to get the 25% off, buy-6-bottles. Or .. more than 6 bottles that both Sainsbury’s and Asda do too, (up to a maximum of 36 in any one transaction). Morrisons only work in multiples of 6!!! Buy 7 bottles and we find the seventh will not be included in a discount.

So the small-print-detail is important. And I can only ever speak about England especially where Lidl are concerned. With Scotland especially and Wales too having some different rules, it goes without saying people making purchases in different areas will presumably understand how pricing works for them locally.

Lidl for several years used to do across the board Wine Tour remainder stuff at £3.99. My stores, several I use, here in north east England, are now splitting the remainders into several price categories from £3.99 up to £9.99. Many’s the time I’ve had £8.99 bottles for £3.99 but it no longer applies and discounts may only run at a £1 or £2 now. They are no longer ”giving it away”! Fair enough, they are in it to make profit. The last time I got a seriously good deal was well over a year ago with a remainders bin full of 2018 Bastide Miraflors Syrah/Grenache. I bought the lot. I got so many, saving £5 or £6 on each, I still have one bottle left ….

The Chianti RIserva you mention was discussed on here some time ago. It used to be £5.99 but every so often they had it as their Wine Of The Week and sold it at £4.49, that was the time to stock up. Now there is no WOTW deal so it doesn’t feature. The first bottling offered 2-3 years back was the 2015 that was seriously good. The subsequent vintages have been fine too and if like me you are a fan of this sangiovese it is excellent value even at £6.49 and its Bamford points base of 92/100 . And as you point out Chris it’s part of their usual shelf range so it is always to be found as opposed to WIGIG!!

Chris Barclay

Hi Eddy, Brian and everyone in the community,

Caught Eddies drift, think carefully so chose 6 wines from the Tesco 25% off deal and then chose the 3 Lidl deluxe wines at 25% off and added 3 from the standard Lidl range that were not discounted. On average the Tesco wines are £12 each and the Lidl wines are £6 and then I apply the discount; the Tesco wines are still twice the price. I set my points low bar to 88/100 and my high bar to 92/100 points and yep it’s a fair fight.

I am still a little short on white wines for the summer so in the remaindered bins at Lidl I’ll buy some 2021 Laurana down from £7,99 to £5,99. This is very dry Verdicchio de Jesi Classio Superior and I’ll only buy enough for this summer. By not going to Tesco I’m buying the Verdicchio for nothing. It’s a big fat white at 13.5% which has a tiny honey edge plus intense apples, lemons, nuts and herbs. Well deserved 90 point wine.

Tesco is the largest supermarket in the UK and Lidl is about the smallest around no 10, Brian you sit in meetings from time to time at Lidl perhaps remotely so can you shed some light on how david can compete with goliath? I suspect Lidl have a very effective team?

Brian Elliott

Can’t give an absolute answer to this but here are things I have noticed about Lidl (a) they seem to buy for Europe not just for the UK – so economies of scale are available, (b) staffing is tight – you often see the Store manager on the tills (not a common sight elsewhere) but those managers are well compensated and (c) fewer lines than conventional UK supermarkets and (d) German style systems (stores do not have dustbins and perishables are re-cycled often earning more than the cost of re-cycling them).

Richard Wyndham

Hi Chris, regarding Lidl’s competitive wine pricing …
I understand that they ship many wines in large bulk tanks and bottle them in mainland Europe, near to where the tanker docks. They may not be the only companies doing this but as they also sell these lines throughout Europe I guess they get great economies of scale.
One thing that can be slightly annoying is their back labels often give little information on growers, vineyards etc. Doesn’t detract from the wine quality, but is nice to understand the context and personal touch of what one is drinking.
I use the “cellar tracker” cellar management program for all my wines, and very often I am the first to add a Lidl wine into their community database – so have to enter all the details including picture of the bottle. (Anyone using this system and seeing a picture of a wine with a toy cow (Priscilla) with a blue jumper beside it – that has been input by me. My quirky sense of humour!)

Brian Elliott

As you say, Richard, I think buying for Europe is one of the keys but – like you – I do get frustrated by the lack of information on the back label. May be useful, though, if I needed to translate “dry red wine” into 16 languages.

Chris Barclay

Thanks Richard for your helpful comments and I want to now encourage interest in a Camille Meyer Old Vines Gewurztraminer. It’s a 2020 vintage and surprisingly it’s at its peak and it’s medium sweet and yet my palate is really tuned to dry wines however if the acidity balance is there I can admire the winemakers skill. We have here some Alsace royalty just showing off that they have some of the best south facing terraces of Gewürztraminer vines in the old world. Decanter say 91/100 and I think they are stingy and add a couple of points! Lets see what Brian thinks? The original price was £8.99 and I got a discount of a £1 so that’s fair!

The wine was on sale at £8.99

Brian Elliott

Chris… I didn’t pick that one up when it was on promotion (July last year) I think but will see if any is left anywhere. Speaking generally, though, late gathered gewurz is, I agree, a joy – but quite a hard sell to those who have yet to try it. I even think it can outperform sweeter rieslings. I am pleased to see that it appeals to an enthusiast of dry whites – provided, as you say, there is plenty of balancing acidity.

Chris Barclay

Hi Eddy, just mentioning a strategy update to the optimum usage of the Lidl plus scheme. The remainders wine bin used to empty within days when they marked them down to £3.99. Now it seems the bin never empties! It’s now quite easy to use regular weekly purchases of remaindered wine such that you get a monthly spend of £250 every month rather than every 2 months. So you buy discounted wine to save 10% on your groceries every month. If you buy some sirloin steaks a free range chicken, some sea bass and a bit of smoked salmon, these savings all add up. I also find that their trays of young plants are very good value and I don’t mind potting them up and growing them on. Only issue is having to find somewhere frost free during April/May. Its worth it though to see your small 50p Geranium or Fuchsia plants becoming worth £3 or £4 each.

Chris Barclay

Looking back at Dave Cronin’s past comments and Brian’s comments above I now know the French name for Monastrell and reading Lidl’s notes I am expecting the Eje’s version to be big and dry and I’m not sure if I’m expecting the 2020 or the 2021vintage and it could be remaindered at £6 or £7 so that looks promising.

I’m also viewing the Gestos Malbec x2 and I already have a couple of vintages laid bye so has anyone tried the 2021 vintage yet? Finca Flichman really do capture the flavour of this grape!

There is a plethora of high scoring white and Rose wines described temptingly by Brian above and hopefully we may see some discounts in a week or so when the Tour changes.

Has anyone got any interesting comments to make as we exit this Tour before bringing in the new?

Did anyone try the lone Sauvignon Blanc?

Brian Elliott

Come on MidWeekers, do keep comments like this coming – and reactions to them. Chris. has a great suggestion for you. Pick up wines with high scores (and commended by other subscribers) when they are “remaindered” – and keep them for a year or so. Building a cellar with minimal outlay. What is there not to like there!

Chris Barclay

Thanks Brian for your encouragement on cellar building. I was also encouraged by what David Cronin said about Monastrell wines in general.

I grabbed a bottle today and the fruit is masked so I surmise it can improve over a couple of years.

I checked Spain’s vintage charts and 2021 was a good year and yes the tannin extraction has been sensible considering the high acidity and 14% alcohol. Hopefully Lidl will knock a pound off at the end of this tour if buyers find it unready to drink. It is certainly a bit of a brute, bone dry however structure and balance are encouraging.

Brian Elliott

Yes that guy is indeed built to last – when the tannin will soften appreciably.

Chris Barclay

If you want the inside track go to the Lidl store the day before the next Wine Tour starts. You may find some highly stressed assistants trying their best to inform the customer what price the previous Tour wines should be. Sometimes reduced wines are all dumped into the same wire cage without clear pricing info and none of us can remember the previous prices.

Quite a few of the older smaller Lidl shops decide for staffing or logistic reasons to do the change over of the tours today and most larger stores wait until tomorrow.

Because I focus on Lidl, Midweek Wines and Decanter I can see the time is right for some amazing value on some excellent bottles. This post covers the “whites, sweeties, rose and sparklers.” Reds to follow.

For immediate drinking look out also for 2020 Expression de Saint Mont, 2021 Wirra Wirra Scrubby Rise Chardonnay Adelaide Hills and a 2021 Marcus Molitor Sauvignon Blanc grown in Mosel. All these are on sale from today or tomorrow for £4.99 and all are finding short term refuge in my cellar. Please check these out in Brian’s tasting notes in the heading at the top of this web page or in Decanter for their original prices and drinking windows.

If you are desperate for a dryish elegantly shaped and styled Italian sparkler try the Lebolle Spumante 2021. There is a pink and a white version (both pinot noirs with a little Viognier to lift them). Both are “light” at 11.5% ABV, however “very light” now on the wallet at £5.99 instead of £8. Decanter rates these as 87/100 and both are fairly dry and suitable as an aperitif, or with fish.

If you prefer there is a delicious Arestel Cava rated at 89/100 by Decanter, bone dry which was £7.49 now reduced to £5.75 There are several versions of Arestel however look for a black and mainly white label. The version I prefer says Brut in white on a black band. I can also recommend the Rosado version which has pink lettering on a white label and is less dry.

The Cabriz Dao Rose 2022 from Portugal will cellar until 2024 and has been reduced from £7.49 down to £4.99 and rated by Decanter at 90/100 I have some 2021 stored and it still drinks beautifully. The label now has lovely Black embossed text.

The Duca di Castelmonte Zibibbo, Sicily 2021, described by Brian above and 89/100 by Decanter is now reduced from £8 down to £4.99

If you are looking for a sweet wine refer to Brian’s tasting notes in the header above and this Recoto di Soave also has a decent reduction on the original price of £12

£3.99 has gone but £4.99 wines remain aplenty and some of them are very fine indeed and some will benefit from age! Don’t just use Google always rely on what Brian and Decanter say.

Chris Barclay

Here are the price reductions on the reds for the outgoing 2023 Summer Wine Tour and some suggestions to try.

2021 Eje Monastrell very kindly reduced by Lidl from £7.49 to £4.99 89/100 see Brians notes above
2018 Gran Bajoz Tinta de Toro was £8.99 now £4.99 88/100 92/100
2021 Carmenere Gran Reserva was £7.99 now £4.99 87/100 See Brians tasting notes
2021 Entre Quintas Douro was £8.99 now £4.99 88/100
2019 Chateau Blagnac Bordeaux was £9.99 now £7.99 88/100
2018 5 Oros Rioja Crianza was £7.99 now £4.99 90/100
2020 Chateau St Eutrope Corbieres was £6 now £4.99 90/100
2020 Organic Vacqueyras was £12.99 now £9.99 91/100

Brian Elliott

That’s incredibly helpful Chris – thank you. Subscribers should remember that stocks do vary from store to store, depending on what has sold well in that specific location (and, sometimes, it is “everything”). Remember, too, that different prices may apply in Scotland and Wales where minimum unit pricing is in force.

Chris Barclay

Brian I have started the next phase of “My Cellar Build” and reckon I have a couple of months to plunder the “Remainders Bin” and reach all my discount LIdl account so I save 10% on my food purchases etc going forward.

I have put my money where my mouth is and grabbed some bottles of the Vacqueyras, concentrating first as you advise on the best ranked wines that merit investment. I’m looking to gain 2 to 4 points on the Vacqueyras. So if I’m lucky I could improve an 89 pointer to 93.

I tucking into right now a Lidl 2019 Nebbiolo from Santenzo, £8.49 remaindered 2 years ago to £3.99 rated 87/100 and it has gained 4 points. Oh that minty wild cherry fruit and nuances of blood orange and Walnuts, Yum. This DOC can be one of the finest Italian wines.

Brian Elliott

Oh yes, nebbiolo can be terrific – just two drawbacks. First you need patience as the best ones tend to mature slowly and, secondly, deep pocket. Prices can be substantial and that’s what made this one such a good buy.

Phil Bradshaw

That Eje Monastrell has improved significantly over six months. I’m doing a Spain December and was a perfect appetiser for some mature Riojas to come.

Brian Elliott

It always felt like a wine that had a bit of life ahead of it, so I am pleased that you are finding that in practice. Enjoy the rest of Spanish December.


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