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So, What’s New at Aldi

After last month’s look at the current Lidl Wine Tour, attention turns today to the other premium discounter – Aldi.

Read on for my picks from recent arrivals or new vintages in their stores ahead of the usual Christmas specials.

All should be in most stores now.

However, I have pushed the price band up a notch to show some of the more unusual wines their list now features.

My admiration for both discounters is not restricted to price.

After years of spurning gorgonzola sold in the UK, I was won back to it by one mouthful of the great value Lidl version.

It is tangy, nutty, creamier than Stilton and without the ammonia that riddles so many blue cheeses.

Speaking of price and value, the theme recurs in both my Friday Treat and Sunday Best choices.

The red takes you a long way towards an iconic (and much more expensive) Italian star.

Meanwhile the English sparkling wine goes even further down the road towards high standard (and also expensive) rosé champagne.

Do seek them both out.

The images and hyperlinks provided should help you to find them in crowded displays.

Now for those Aldi wines

Starting with a couple of whites

2021 Specially Selected Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc (£8.99 at Aldi and 12% abv):

Although this corner of Western Australia is renowned for its cabernet and chardonnay, it also produces creditable sauvignon blanc.

It is wetter and cooler that other parts of Australia which helps sauvignon appreciably.

Admittedly, though, the end result is less textured and has less forceful acidity than, say, New Zealand versions.

Light in body but with a beautifully clean mouth-feel, it brings us restrained greengage, ripe melon and sherbet lemon flavours combined with zesty lime acidity and grassy but herbal undertones.

A Spanish grape goes west

2021 Specially Selected Uruguayan Albariño (£9.99 at Aldi and 12.5%):

Since the fathers of modern winemaking in Uruguay were largely Basque immigrants, perhaps the main surprise is that Spain’s albarino grapes are only quite recent arrivals.

Conditions in Maldonado, relatively close to the Atlantic, seem to suit the variety well though for this is no novelty product – it can hold its own against even quite expensive options from Rias Baixas.

Soft and rounded, the wine delivers apple, peach and quince flavours supported by a nippy acidic edge that, nevertheless, develops a classic albarino saline finish.

Now a red from somewhere unexpected

2020 Specially Selected Swiss Pinot Noir (£9.99 at Aldi and 13%)

High prices have meant Switzerland is not an automatic choice for wine, but Aldi have experimented with several wines from that country and, for me, this is the best.

It is a pinot from the Valais region which produces wine in the warm but dry Alpine conditions near the fledging River Rhȏne before it crosses into France. 

Incredibly soft, the wine has smooth raspberry, blackcurrant and white strawberry flavours embellished by good acidity with hints of cocoa and a certain pinot earthiness, all built into a light body that has only minimal tannin.

Back to more familiar locations

2019 Specially Selected Pézenas (£9.99 at Aldi and 14%):

Pezenas is a sub-appellation of Languedoc from the varied terrain of the area that surrounds the town of the same name.

Given the summer temperatures there, it is (unsurprisingly) powerful wine with high alcohol levels.

It is based on the GSM blend  so familiar in the Rhȏne Valley but, slightly unusually, has syrah in the lead and is supplemented here by a dash of carignan (which is permitted in Pezenas provided it stays below the 30% level).

Sturdy and high in alcohol but with surprisingly mild tannin, the result features cherry and damson flavours that are attractively integrated with traces of oregano, vanilla, mocha and liquorice. 

My Top Choice

Pleasing to see the new vintage of this superb sparkling wine on Aldi shelves; we have certainly missed it.

Cremant is sparkling wine made by the same method as champagne but in somewhere other than the designated Champagne region.

Not every local variant excels, but this 100% chardonnay version from Jura is an absolute star.

Textured and perfectly balanced, 2019 Specially Selected Cremant du Jura (£8.99 at Aldi and 12%) has a foundation of apple, peach and orange flavours.

These are neatly supplemented by toast and honey touches and given extra verve by sharp grapefruit acidity.

Friday Treats

2019 Extra Special Valpolicella Ripasso (£9 at Asda and 13.5%)

I have mentioned before how Ripasso techniques create a result that sits between basic Valpolicella and its world-famous (and expensive) big brother, Amarone.

The good news for us is that good Ripasso is nearer to Amarone in style but much closer to everyday Valpolicella in price.

This impressive version is densely textured yet contains little tannin and is centred around rich cherry and plum flavours.

Those features are enlivened by good acidity but accompanied by mint, cinnamon and date influences that emerge nicely in its especially smooth finish.

Sunday Best   

Balfour Cuvee Rosé NV (£22.00 at M&S and 12%)

This is made by the widely acclaimed Hush Heath operation southeast of Tonbridge in Kent and uses the “holy trinity” of champagne grapes (chardonnay and the pinot sisters – noir and meunier).

Make no mistake, you would pay a lot more for rosé champagne of this quality.

Pale pink in colour with a sherbet mouthfeel, it exhibits very lively raspberry, peach and strawberry cheesecake flavours coupled with a rich, creamy texture, sharp grapefruit acidity and a twist of rhubarb to add yet more complexity.

The wine is available in M&S stores and online at Ocado for £22 but is currently down to £19 per bottle on a multi-buy on the M&S website.


Little new to report this morning folk but here’s a reminder that the current promotions at Tesco and the Co-op are due to end next Monday and Tuesday respectively.

My next post (on Monday) contains terrific recommendations of Top Tips for you in the weekly feature of the same name you know so well.

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Steve Perry

Good morning Brian, great to see that Aldi are re-introducing their Specially Selected Cremant Du Jura, certainly one of the better “fizzes” for under a tenner. Also interested that you recommended their Uruguayan Albarino, I saw it on the shelves last week, worth a punt, or should I stick to the Spanish Rias Baixas version? (although at those prices, either is not something I drink that often!).

Just thought I’d mention that Tesco’s Finest current 25% off offer is still on until next Monday, 17 October, but unlike their normal minimum of 6 bottles, one only needs to purchase 3 at a time, (although this only applies to wines that start at £7-00). Still a pretty good deal, 3 £7 bottles works out at £5-25 each, and there’s a reasonably selection to choose from in each separate price category, (apologies if you’ve already mentioned this in a previous post).

This week’s “wine of the week” from Lidl is, (for me personally), a rather disappointing choice in that it’s their own label Californian Zinfandel Rose, although I can’t argue with the price, (£4-25 down to £3-19). However, next week sounds much more promising, Le Rocher Picpoul De Pinet, £6-49 down to £4-99. A word of caution ‘though, on their web site, this is showing as
for Scotland & Wales only, but there’s no alternative English selection, so I suspect it will also be available down here, (I’ll check out next week’s newsletter, which should be in the stores from tomorrow, their wine deal is normally shown on the back page.

Out of interest, did anyone get to try the reduced price Gavi that Lidl were offering the other week, they didn’t appear to be selling it in my local store.

Brian Elliott

Thanks for the update on Tesc, Steve – that had passed me by. As for your question about the albarino – yes definitely worth a punt in my opinion. It outperforms some of the less expensive Spanish versions in my view.
As for the Lidl Picpoul, I last sampled it in May and it was drinking brilliantly then but I did not get to sample the Gavi.

Eddie Walker

Just to endorse Steve Perry’s comments on Lidl and their weekly “offer” that is no offer at all when it is the none existent Gavi! They are playing silly beggars .. with a will it won’t it happen approach as to whether it’s on at all in England and is it a weekend or off all week offer if it will happen. Their ambiguous online website publishing is no help in this respect. On a brighter note with Lidl and their current wine Tour that Belmont SA SB Rose is very nice as is the SA Paarl Mountains Chenin that is also about the cheapest bottle in the current Tour.

Brian Elliott

Sorry to see that Lidl publicity is causing confusion. Minimum unit pricing in Scotland has extra impact for Lidl because their prices are on the low side anyway. They seem to be trying to do something to compensate for their customers there by offering selected promotions that are exclusive to Scotland and Wales but, I guess, that make them difficult to organise and to communicate.

Steve Perry

Thanks for that Brian, if the Picpoul is indeed available for a fiver a bottle, I will pick up a few next week, certainly don’t think currently, it can be bought elsewhere for anything near that price.

Chris Barclay

Steve I seem to remember that the Lidl Picpoul in 2022 was very good and piercingly dry which I like, I think it was from the 2021 vintage and we were drinking it in 2022. Unfortunately I bought it again later in 2022 and forgot to check the vintage which was either a 2018 or 2019 and lets be polite and say it was not so good despite all that acidity and salt it does not age well.

Brian Elliott

Ah yes! I have also often been caught out by older vintages appearing on retailers’ shelves.

Richard Wyndham

Hi Brian, thanks for the Swiss Pinot Noir recommendation. I tried a bottle last night, and it had a nice PN smell, and proved popular. It had enough acidity and low enough tannins to pair ok with a tuna dish, as well as with ham. There are so many interesting wines on supermarket shelves and merchants’ lists – one cannot try them all! So your trusted recommendations are very helpful. I also bought the Swiss Gamay – but haven’t tried it yet.
BTW do you know the story behind the 2010 vintage English Sparkling wine from Morrisons? I believe it is made by Denbies, and its price has fluctuated from £17.50, on sale, to the current £27 (although 25% off if you buy (mixed?) 4). I have drunk quite few bottles of this over the past year or so, and find it lovely and creamy, and tasting neither tired or too acidic. Morrisons must have bought a large tranche of this wine, a great act of good faith by their wine buyers. Did Denbies need some cash flow at the time of sale?

Brian Elliott

It was the softness of the pinot noir that particularly impressed me and I would be very interested in your view of the gamay, Richard, when you open it. Not sure of the Morrisons English wine store but will see what I can find out. I am glad that Swiss red paid off though.

Steve Perry

Good Morning Brian, I saw a very favourable review in one of yesterday’s papers (with apologies To Mick & Keith!), for Lidl’s Agramont Old Vine Garnacha, which retails for around £6. This is not the first time I’ve seen this particular bottle mentioned, and I’ve always had an interest in Spanish wine, are you familiar with this one, and if so, would you recommend it.

Brian Elliott

Not yet sampled this one Steve but I will check it out and let you know what I think.

Chris Barclay

Steve I bought quite a few of these when it was on special offer largely because it was 90 points and from memory £3.99. It was indeed from old vines very concentrated flavours and the expected minerality from the long roots. My only problem was residual sugar and a fair bit of tannin. Now when I try it in April 2023 it has settled down a lot and the tannins have softened nicely and and the sugar is not so prominent. The issue is that Garnacha to me is a blending wine to liven up a wine that has lost its fruit a bit so that’s how I will use it up and do it this year. For 4 quid it is a real bargain

Brian Elliott

As you say, Chris., garnacha is a great blending partner but it is good to see single variety versions gaining more prominence now because the grape has many virtues that can be underestimated. Old vines do help, as their lower yields create the greater concentration you mention. Red wines with higher residual sugar also appear to be gaining traction as their denser texture seems popular and chef’s maintain that they can work well with some of their dishes.

Chris Barclay

Thanks Brian, I really appreciate your tasting notes when they mention residual sugar. I don’t mind it in white wines because usually there is acidity to balance it but it’s so popular now with Malbec.

I’m slowly reading through your older blogs trying to get a handle on the Aldi wines and I found that if you scroll down they give “of which sugars” and I think the units are grams/Litre and I think I need to be be looking at less than 0.5 for reds. Can stretch that a bit for a Ripasso or Amarone

Does not matter that this precise info is missing at Lidl because Richard Bampfield has such an outstanding palate that nearly all his rated wines are very much in near perfect balance. Lidl do give a sweetness factor from 1 to 5 as well for reds and whites.

When I cook I always try to have some sauce or gravy and I nearly always acidify it a little to taste with vinegar/lemon/lime as appropriate. Pro chefs often make a “gastric.” I suspect modern chefs are sweetening to taste. Will we all end up with Type 2 Diabetes as is happening in the US?

Brian Elliott

I do try to indicate residual sugar when I can, but it is not always available so, I agree, hats off to Aldi who do provide that information. There is an increasing trend towards higher sugar levels which often only surface as extra texture but, then, the public do like those wines. Perhaps I am being fanciful but is the wheel turning a full circle? Our grandparents usually only bought wine if it was sweet (I feel that was a reaction to 10 years of sugar rationing from the early Forties). Nowadays, youngsters (possibly weaned on Cocoa Cola) also gravitate to sweeter things – from alcopops to prosecco and on to Apothic etc.

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