The period between Christmas and Easter is almost “close season” for the wine trade, so it is good to see the bi-monthly Lidl Wine Tours continuing as normal.
January’s “Tour” goes to Italy and offers one or two unusual options which lovers of that country’s wines will welcome.
I have sampled about half of the list and discuss below those that stood out for me – regrettably, my bottle of the highly rated Lugana was defective.
Overall, the wines I sampled were sound and workmanlike rather than spectacular – but it is still good to see keenly priced but reliable wines at this difficult time.
As usual, all are available while stocks last – and that often varies from store to store.
Once again, pictures and hyperlinks are included where possible to make it easier to track down the wine in question.
Starting with a sparkle
2021 Malvasia Colli Piacentini Frizzante (£6.99 and 11.5% abv):
Malvasia gives its name to a range of (probably unrelated) grapes as different as the rich Malmsey of Madeira and this slightly sparkling white from Colli Piacentini in Emilia-Romagna.
Frizzante, incidentally, is a gentle form of sparkling wine that has less than half the pressure of spumante.
Here, it, provides palate cleansing, fun wine that does not take itself too seriously.
Perfumed and uncomplicated, the wine displays light peach, apple and grapefruit flavours with modest acidity and sherbet based liveliness – and, of course – those tongue tingling bubbles.
Familiar name in an unfamiliar setting.
2021 Viognier Terre Siciliane (£6.99 and 12.5%:
Sicily is not an obvious place for the Rhone Valley’s (and elsewhere’s) classic viognier – and, in truth, the resemblance is only slight.
While there are tropical fruit and creamy aspects here, this has neither the weight nor the viscosity of, say, French versions.
Nevertheless, it is a pleasant, floral and peach centred white wine that will work perfectly well as informal drinking.
Medium bodied with savoury edges, it has pear and ripe melon flavours built into a smooth creaminess that also contains hints of mace and herbs – all given added zing by its firm acidity.
My favourite white
2021 Zibibbo (£7.99 and 12.5%
Zibibbo is the Sicilian name for Muscat of Alexandria – a variety that seems to have originated in North Arica (as the second part of its name implies).
It is more floral on both nose and taste buds – and with firmer marmalade influences – than better known muscats and appears to be a parent of Argentina’s torrontes grapes.
Just off-dry with inviting aromas, this example exhibits pithy orange, mango, red apple and melon flavours partnered by gentle grapefruit acidity and a really fresh mouth-feel.
Next up is a rosé
2021 BIO Bardolino DOC Chiaretto (£7.49 and12.5%:
Around Lake Garda what is called rosato elsewhere in Italy is known as chiaretto and this biologically produced example is from Bardolino.
It probably uses the traditional Valpolicella grapes (possibly with less corvina) and really surprised me with its clarity, fresh and diverse constituents.
Very clean with a lively prickle, it features herbal raspberry and cherry flavours combined with suggestions of chocolate, nuts and savoury spices along with tart acidity – but balancing savoury spices.
Over to the reds
2021 Passamano Frappato Syrah (£6.99 and 14%)
Sicily’s frappato grape is well known for the light bodied wine it produces but here it is given extra depth by blending – although its partner in this case is syrah rather than the more usual nero d’avola.
It is easily spotted on the shelf, however, by its white, paper wrapped, bottle.
With appealing savoury aromas and, as expected, light in texture, the result has sweet edged strawberry and blackcurrant flavours with well-judged tannin and acidity plus hints of cinnamon, mint and pepper.
Back on the Mainland
2020 Puglia Nero di Troia (£6.99 and 13.5%):
Perhaps because of its lower yields, Nero di Troia is not as well known as those Puglia stalwarts primitivo and negroamaro.
That is a pity because the grape’s power and fruitiness merits appreciably more recognition than is possible in its usual role as a blending partner.
With more depth than the Frappato and a neat mineral twist, it brings us fruity plum and raspberry flavours accompanied by good acidity and a touch of sweetness as well as clove and dark chocolate components.
(Not) Foiled Again?
Did you know that the foil around the cork and neck of sparkling wine bottles was a legal requirement?
No, I didn’t either – but by this time next year, it may not be.
Originally introduced – apparently – to stop mice nibbling corks, this requirement is an EU regulation and could be one discarded by the latest “Retained EU Law” proposals.
Opinions within the UK wine trade seem divided on whether to preserve or ditch the requirement, as this piece in the excellent Drinks Business publication illustrates.
No doubt the debate will rumble on.
After today’s glimpse at Lidl’s latest offerings, we continue the search for budget (but great value) wines in Monday’s Top Tip selections. See you then.
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