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More Discounter Discoveries – Aldi

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.

Marmite Wine.

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.


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Comments

16 Comments

Jerry W

I buy more wine from Aldi than from any other supermarket. The range is not huge, but there is so much that is excellent value for money.
Do we know which vineyard the Lebanese red comes from? Own label type bottles aways irritate me, because after all, we already *know* who selected the wine, I want to know more about the producers…

Brian Elliott

I am afraid I have no more information on the producer beyond the wine being from the Bekaa Valley – which hardly narrows the field much … Comments on the excellent Wine Pages website suggest that it might be Domaine des Tourelles but I cannot confirm that … Brian

Eddie Walker

Yes Brian Aldi certainly has my almost undivided attention these days. A pity though that they can’t keep up to speed on their website where, the last time I looked, many of these wines were yet to be listed even though I’d had some off the shelf already a couple of weeks back!. The Marselan I like a lot for its cabernet style full and ripe and the Lebanese too was excellent. But if these big wine wines are for drinking with serious food to match the new Portuguese Blend at a ridiculous £3.99 is a fruity little belter for more lightweight midweek quaffing with pizza or pasta or indeed some piri piri chicken and chips! Cheers for now …

Brian Elliott

Although I enjoyed that Marselan I felt its savouriness might inhibit some subscribers and, consequently, was wary about including it. So, I am glad that you have “endorsed its credentials”. Not tasted that Portuguese blend you mention yet so will try to tack some down. Thanks for that (and other) alerts, they are really helpful … Best … Brian

Eddie Walker

The Marselan for sure Brian is not for the faint hearted but it rewards those who are careful about how they pair wine with food and maybe aerate and or decant too. Then there’s the open .. drink some … leave 24 hours .. that I did but I’d take the point .. why bother with all that riggermarole? Sometimes it gets us there and rewards the situation. Like the excellent Coteaux de Beziers a true cabernet, I wanted to check out this interesting cabernet style hybrid being grown in a hot location. Cheers again and thanks as ever for your welcome mailings I enjoy receiving. I’ll be in an Aldi next week to see if I can’t find some more Fletchers LBV Port for less than 8 quid. Domestic fuel might have gone through the roof but quality booze still can be found remarkably cheap!

Brian Elliott

Thanks Eddie. That “Drink….Leave 24 hours … Try again” you describe is a useful test and well worth wider use. Incidentally, that LBV port you mention is listed at £9.99 for the 2016 version. There is a 10 year old Tawny priced at £10.99 though that, I understand, is due for launch on 8 November.

Eddie Walker

Thanks for that Brian. Didn’t I get lucky with that Fletchers LBV!!!! Of course the price difference is quite understood when I can now no longer see it on the shelf. I must have got the last bottle of what was offered at under £8. I’d have it again even at £9.99 but will keep my eyes peeled for the 10 year old Tawny. I don’t understand it about stock that Aldi have at a couple of stores I use. A month or two back they had only one bottle of their Glen Marnoch 12 year old Speyside single malt that was £19.99. Plenty of their generic GM Highland, Speyside, Islay stuff at £16.99. But the 12 year old like the cheap port has disappeared … I think it poor customer satisfaction on their part Brian ..

Brian Elliott

Be interested in your thoughts on the Tawny. I have yet to try it but hope to include my view in my 25 November post.

Richard from Leeds

Brian, thanks for your efforts and updates. We are regular Aldi shoppers and Wine buyers. Any dates on the launch date for the Winemasters lot range ? Hopefully will beat the rush and hope you will review them ?

Brian Elliott

Hi Richard – great to hear from you. There doesn’t seem to be a unified launch date for the range and, indeed, some (Barbaresco and Rioja Gran Reserva for instance) currently appear to be scheduled as on-line items only. Others should, apparently, be instore from November onwards but a white Vacqueyras does not seem to be expected until December. Sorry not to be more helpful but it does seem to be a moving target.

Steph Livingstone

Hi Brian,
We’ve already tried the Dao and the Ribera. Will be giving the Lebanese Red a try this weekend!

Brian Elliott

Hi Steph …. Great to hear from you – and I trust all goes well with you. So, two points from me please. (1) Did you find the Ribera ready to drink now or did it need longer? and (2) Do give that Lebanese red some air before you use it (splashed into a jug and back into the bottle will do) – the tannins and grape variety can seem a bit “dry”.

Richard from Leeds

The Aldi Lebanese certainly needs some air. When just freshly opened was very harsh. I happened to then leave the half bottle (vacuum sealed) whilst away on holiday for 2 weeks – different wine again on return and was then very pleasant. Will decant bottle 2 !

Brian Elliott

My experience was similar (with a two day rather than two week time lapse).

Richard from Leeds

Visited the Wine aisle at our local Aldi today and the new top shelf specials have arrived. Think there will be a few gulps from the regular wine shoppers at some of the new costly offerings as way above the normal price ranges. Always cautious to buy based just on a name, region or a label, so awaiting your reviews soon Brian ??

Brian Elliott

They were not available when I did my last Aldi Review but I will filter them into my Christmas selections when those posts begin (on Thursday week).


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