Lidl and Aldi’s combined market share of grocery sales is now less than a single percentage point behind the figures for Sainsbury’s and those for Asda.
It is not just in the overall grocery realm that their influence is felt, as they have proved equally “disruptive” to the world of wine.
That is the reason I created my monthly Discounter Discovery posts which look at new wine arrivals in Aldi and Lidl – and alternate between the two.
Today it is the turn of Aldi who call particular attention to several changes incorporated within their Autumn Winter Collection.
- First, a broader range of styles and countries is available even at the most modest price points.
- Secondly, the new 10 item Winemaster’s Lot “super-premium brand” has been introduced (Rioja Gran Reserva at £14.99 and a £10.99 Pouilly Fumé for instance) to sit above the Specially Selected range.
Getting back to the day job though, I feature here a few stars at down-to-earth prices that I think offer great value and commendable quality.
As usual, pictures and hyperlinks have been added where possible to make it easier to recognise the wine and ensure you are buying the one you intended.
Starting with a returning hero
In an example of “what goes around, comes around”, excellent examples of muscadet have surfaced in recent vintages reminding us of the tangy, energetic white wine (with occasional savouriness and lees induced richness) we used to love so much.
Beautifully aromatic and soft, 2020 Specially Selected Muscadet Sevre et Maine sur Lie(£6.49 at Aldi and 12% abv) has pink grapefruit and ripe, red apple flavours with a trace of peach ably supported by modest texture, faint saline touches and sharp acidity reminiscent of “Refresher” sweeties.
Chardonnay from the Deep South
In his excellent Grapes & Wines book, Oz Clarke lauds the “restrained and age-worthy style of chardonnay from Limoux’s limestone hills”.
Reflecting that praise, this is a great example of impressively made chardonnay from that part of Languedoc.
Smooth with appreciable depth, 2020 Specially Selected French Limoux (£6.99 and 13.5%) brings us soft green apple, nectarine and fresh pineapple flavours partnered by vibrant lime acidity, background mintiness and subtle buttered toast oak influences.
Then to my pick of the whites
Despite the appreciable challenges of growing it, roussanne is – for me – a star of those delightfully different white wines of the Rhone Valley – and this example from Languedoc confirms (for pleasingly little outlay) just how glorious it can be.
Soft with considerable length, 2020 Specially Selected French Roussanne (£6.99 and 13%) provides white peach, ripe melon and orchard fruit flavours with zesty tangerine acidity plus hints of savouriness and vanilla wrapped into its creamy texture.
Onto the reds then
Slightly more widely appreciated than roussanne is Portugal’s touriga nacional grape – which was a threatened species not long ago because of its low yields (accountants don’t drink red wine apparently!).
Happily, it lives on – normally in blends as is the Portuguese way – but here graces your glass as an enjoyable and great value single varietal.
Full with smatterings of savoury herbs, 2019 Mimo Moutinho Portuguese Dao (£5.99 and 13.5%) delivers cherry, prune and ripe raspberry flavours accompanied by firm acidity (but modest tannin) and suspicions of aniseed and dark chocolate.
First a health warning – if you dislike liquorice, you may not enjoy this wine (made, incidentally, from a little-known French grape that is cross between cabernet sauvignon and grenache).
The result is spectacularly different red wine combining lightness of texture with firm minerality that does indeed remind me of graphite, smokiness and similar components – but, personally, I rather like it.
Light yet heavily influenced by that mineral savouriness, 2020 Specially Selected French Marselan (£6.49 and 14%) contains concentrated prune and cherry liqueur flavours combined with bold acidity (but restricted tannin) along with touches of liquorice, eucalyptus and caramel.
Speaking of the unusual.
Although few Lebanese wines can match the heights that Chateau Musar scales, examples (like this one) from the country’s wine producing Bekaa Valley, seem to favour Musar style blends – and also produce similar “dry terroir” wines.
In this case, the cocktail is cabernet sauvignon, cinsault, syrah and carignan (in that order) and the resulting wine will certainly repay decanting.
Dark and nicely rounded, 2019 Specially Selected Lebanese Red (£7.99 and 14.5%) offers us earthy raspberry, cherry and dried fruit flavours supplemented by firm drying tannins and balancing acidity coupled with thyme and baking spice influences.
A more familiar name
Ribera del Duero – a constant challenger to Rioja for Spain’s top red – is seldom available at this price point but this guy certainly displays the complex, concentrated, minerally manifestations of tempranillo for which Ribera is justly famed.
Again decanting (or keeping for a year or so) is recommended since this is clearly young wine with its intensity and tannin still a little vigorous.
Inky in colour and smooth, 2019 Specially Selected Ribera del Duero (£7.99 and 13.5%) exhibits blackberry and cherry flavours embellished by firm tannin and good acidity plus cocoa, slate, clove and tobacco influences.
Finally my personal choice among the reds
Even among the overall success story that is modern Languedoc, there are several “hot spots” with quality wines that stand out from the crowd.
Saint Chinian and parts of Corbieres are two such “super areas” but Minervois is certainly a third.
Full and rich, 2020 Specially Selected Minervois (£8.99 and14%) features elderberry, plum and tomato flavours complemented by soft tannin and nippy acidity with suggestions of aniseed, vanilla and red peppers.
Stars for “Christmas Yet to Come”
Full marks then to Aldi for the breadth and value of its “everyday price” range and for the eight (£6 to £9) wines I have recommended here.
Read on though as the retailer’s Christmas plans look even more tasty.
Although many of the offerings are “online only” (and some not yet available) heads will surely be turned by their proposed “Classic Icons” – Chablis Premier Cru (£19.99), Gevrey Chambertin (£24.99) and Barolo (£14.99).
Other potentially top level options should also be available in the run-up to Christmas (again often exclusively on-line) and plans include Pouilly Fuisse (£16.99), Canadian Ice Wine (£13.99) and Barbaresco (£17.99).
So, assuming quality and availability match expectation, there could be much to justify this section’s “borrowed from Dickens” headline.
Call in again on Monday because there is a bit of an experiment next week. Since retailer promotions often start mid-week, details of the latest deals will go out on Thursday next week. Monday’s post will be dedicated exclusively to my Top Tips.
Subscribe for FREE!
Do you want every review I write, direct to your inbox, absolutely free?