Next month it will be eight years since Lidl launched its “Claret Offensive” – a £12m promotion on premium French wine.
Many of its components were priced at two thirds the level wine drinkers would have been charged elsewhere.
Support, in the form of an explanatory booklet about the wines, was written by the hugely respected Jamie Goode.
The whole operation was so successful that it drew superlatives from the usually conservative hierarchy at Lidl’s HQ near Stuttgart.
That promotion was followed by a similar exercise a few months later (with the supporting booklet written by me that time).
Subsequently the whole process morphed into Lidl’s two monthly Wine Tour promotions.
The latest of those Wine Tours was launched a week or so back.
So, this week’s Sunday Best and Friday Treats features have been replaced by a close look at a selection of the wine that July Wine Tour contains.
Here are the options from that selection that I enjoyed the most.
Pursuing my traditional format, images and, where possible, hyperlinks accompany the assessments of the wines.
Sound red at a great price
Despite being one of the largest areas within Languedoc, Corbieres reds are quite distinctive and often more intense than wines from neighbouring areas.
Here is an excellent example of what it does well – diverse fruit analogues, a neat array of background flavours and a keen price that compares favourably with similar quality wines from elsewhere.
Medium bodied and carrying its alcohol level well, 2020 Chateau St Eutrope Corbières (£5.99 at Lidl and 14% abv) provides impressive plum, loganberry and cherry flavours.
That foundation is partnered by firm tannin, good acidity and suggestions of lavender, chocolate, cinnamon and a vaguely slate savouriness to create great value red wine.
Further up the price ladder
While Langudeoc – deservedly – gets lots of limelight currently, one of its neighbours (Roussillon) merits more days in the sun too.
This is a typical red from the part of Roussillon hard up against the Spanish border that produces the Banyuls vin doux naturels.
It is an attractive, powerful, well-made option that is well worth seeking out – even if the £11 price tag does (to me) feel a tad on the heavy side.
Big bold and intense, 2019 Notre Dame des Anges Collioure (£10.99 at Lidl and 14%) delivers smooth, sweet-edged mulberry and plum flavours.
Those components are supplemented by hints of mocha, oregano, liquorice and cinnamon with a slightly tarry background and firm tannin but good, fresh acidity.
The constituents of this blend add carignan to the classic GSM combination so familiar in Southern France.
Next, then, a rosé
As I have said before, Languedoc is pushing hard to capture – or, at least, rival – the “King of Rosé” crown held for so long by Provence.
This Languedoc example performs that elusive trick of using ripeness to add an attractive layer of sweetness to a wine while staying well clear of cloying sugariness.
Textured but with floral aromas, 2021 Vallée du Sud Languedoc Rosé (£6.99 at Lidl and 13.5%) has red apple, melon and cooked rhubarb favours to titillate taste buds with peach elements adding that ripeness I mentioned.
In addition, there is a contrasting savoury background with faint aniseed touches, all given verve and vitality by lively pink grapefruit and orange acidity.
Next a couple of whites
Of course, those iconic chardonnays from the Cȏte d’Or rightly strut their stuff at the pinnacle of the wine world.
However, the nearby Mȃconnais also wins friends but through the freshness of its wines, their increasing sophistication and, crucially, their significantly lower prices.
Here is a typical example of those wines, nicely configured and – in the context of Burgundy overall – at a fair price.
ȃSoft with a citrus blossom bouquet, 2020 Collin-Bourisset Mȃcon-Lugny (£9.99 at Lidl and 13%) exhibits smooth mango and orchard fruit flavours coupled here with sharp lime acidity and suspicions of herbs.
Now for the star of the show
Although the shortage of Marlborough sauvignon blanc has not been as acute as many expected, the resulting potential for problems precipitated fresh looks at other sauvignon producing places.
One obvious such place was an earlier prime source of the variety, the Loire Valley, and here is a brilliant example of the quality that can be found there.
It is a text-book illustration of the perfect balance between lively acidity, a savoury background and complex fruit taste-alikes.
Do not be deterred by the £12 price label; this is well and truly worth it.
Ripe and with real depth, 2020 Prestige du Haut-Bois Pouilly-Fumé (£11.99 at Lidl and 13.5%) features sweet-edged but restrained apple, melon and white peach flavours as its central theme.
Those components are coupled with floral aromas, subtle saline influences and perfectly judged lime acidity.
Finally to fizz
Although this champagne does not quite rival the 2021 July Wine Tour version – at £20 it is a great value example of premier cru champagne.
While the classification system governing Champagne’s 300+ villages is not an absolute quality guarantee, it is a pretty solid indicator of what to expect.
Insiders seem to accept that grapes from the 42 premier cru villages (and the 17 – grands crus – above them in the hierarchy) are usually responsible for superior champagne.
Champagne Premier Cru Senneval (£19.99 at Lidl and 12.5%) cements its Premier Cru credentials with the softness, creamy texture and gentle mouthfeel that seems to characterise champagne from those villages.
Supporting elements then arrive in the shape of toasty aromas, good lemon acidity and apple, pear and orange flavours.
Most supermarket promotions are now “mid-term” including two offers that close on 9 August (at Waitrose and Sainsbury’s) and those at the Co-op and at Morrisons that both end on 16 August.
Fuller details of those deals were set out in last week’s post so drop back there to have a look.
The main new one is at Tesco and here is a link to the site
There you will see that Clubcard holders are offered an extensive range of price reductions which include 11 wines from Tesco’s premium (Finest) range.
Branded wines also feature significantly with reductions of £1-£2 on five Campo Viejo wines and £1 reductions (to £6.50) on six from the Casillero del Diablo range.
Most – but not all – of those deals end on 15 August 2022.
What’s happening at Asda
Asda have an array of promotions under their “Rollback” mechanic.
Aside from those deals, they also recently sent me a selection of seasonal tipples and I was impressed by their Extra Special Cote de Gascogne and the Extra Special Soave Classico; both are currently at or under £6.
My top red from the selection, however, was the Extra Special Carmenere that led Monday’s Top Tips, but today’s Star Buy below was the pick of the whites for me.
Star Buy from Promotions
While the Casablanca Valley probably led the way for sauvignon blanc in Chile, other areas have now joined the party.
The Colchagua Valley has earned a great reputation for excellent carmenere, but parts of the region near to the Pacific also produce attractive cool-climate whites like this sauvignon.
Rounded and intense, 2021 La Corriente Sauvignon Blanc (£6.50 – instead of £7.50 until 7 September – at Asda and 12.5%) brings us ripe orange and mango favours enlivened by grapefruit and lime acidity.
A neat savoury balance is maintained courtesy of its textured herb, asparagus and green pepper components that provide a sense of versatility and complexity.
My next post (on Monday) contains details of the latest Top Tips at the “under £8” end of the market – join me then.
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