The autumn tasting season opened last week with a sizeable cluster of wines from Aldi.
All the old high quality favourites were there – Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut (£11.49), Exquisite Collection Cremant du Jura (£7.99), Animus Douro (£4.99) etc etc).
My focus today though is on some of the new – or less well known – wines and you may need to be patient for those of them that will not be in store for a couple of weeks yet.
One aspect of that timing is that photographs of some wines are not yet available but keep an eye on this site as I will update it with images as they become available.
Strange companions but an effective alliance
Fresh yet nicely rounded 2017 Castellore Grillo Sauvignon Blanc (£4.69 at Aldi and 12.5% abv) has sharp lemon and lime fruit with good acidity but a well-judged hint of spice comes through too.
Alsace with immense popular appeal
Most in the wine trade will tell you (with regret etched firmly on their faces) that Alsace wines are not always an easy sell but this delightful pinot gris should need no help to fly off the shelves the moment it’s launched on 1 October.
While Alsace is famed for its flinty whites 2016 Exquisite Collection Alsace Pinot Gris (£7.49 and 13%) is actually very soft in texture with gentle acidity that, nevertheless, nicely accentuates its orchard fruit and quince backbone and the red apple ripeness that accompanies it.
For that special occasion
Another October arrival is this guy – almost certainly an escapee from my Sunday Best section – and it truly offers exceptional chardonnay for a special occasion.
It has a similarly priced pinot noir partner that is also excellent although not specifically included in this post.
Note the skilful integration in 2016 Artisan Tasmanian Chardonnay (£16.99 and 13%) that neatly brings together soft apple and lemon fruit, touches of white peach, a measured oaky backdrop, good acidity and hints of vanilla.
Remember Nick Oakley’s trailer for this
With bold blackberry and elderberry fruit 2017 Monte Cao Alentejo (£5.99 and 14%) impresses by virtue of its long finish, good acidity and appealing touches of baking spice and thyme.
Could this be the autumn’s big seller?
Chile’s Central Valley is particularly suited to Bordeaux grape varieties, especially cabernet, but it was this merlot that really impressed me making it a great option as the default red wine in many households this autumn.
Floral and medium bodied 2017 Exquisite Collection Chilean Reserva Merlot (£5.99 and 13%) has tasty cherry and loganberry fruit with firm acidity to enliven it, soft tannin and stylish mocha components built into its finish.
Meeting the demand for organic
One of Aldi’s most frequent requests – especially online – is for organic wine, so they have extended the range to about a dozen “Organic and No Sulphur Added” wines and this is one of the best.
Smooth and silky, South Africa’s 2017 Earth’s Essence No Sulphur Added Shiraz (£6.99 but online only until January and 14%) has attractive blackberry fruit, good acidity, hints of vanilla, limited tannin and an impressive background of milk chocolate.
A premium range gets bigger
The Lot Series is a collection of small wine parcels made by acclaimed winemakers that provides Aldi with a premium range that – this time around – contains no fewer than nine wines.
For me the pick of this latest range is Australia’s soft yet lively 2016 Lot Xi Clare Valley Cabernet Shiraz (£10.99 but arriving in October and 14%) with its bold, minty blackcurrant and damson fruit, firm acidity, mild tannin and background suggestions of cinnamon.
BEST OF THE REST
Return to Casablanca
Judge that for yourself though from the floral yet textured 2016 Tierra Hombre Pinot Noir (£6 – instead of £7 until 1 October – at M&S and 13.5%) with its minty cherry and loganberry fruit, nippy acidity, slightly earthy background but only limited tannin.
It’s not just Majestic that loves this
This is the first 2018 vintage we have featured here and, of course, it’s from the Southern Hemisphere – where they harvest six months before us – but the quality of this sauvignon (from the largely red wine country in Chile’s Central Valley) is excellent.
Some Majestic stores, however, still stock the previous vintage.
Zesty, firm tangerine and pink grapefruit acidity lead the way into 2018 Majestic Loves Sauvignon Blanc (£5.99 in Scottish stores or as part of a mixed six elsewhere and 12%) but that is nicely complemented by floral pear and tropical fruit depth and just a touch of ginger.
Because we have already given a lot of space to more expensive wines in September, I have restricted the Sunday Best feature to just three wines this time (a red, a white and some fizz).
This site’s “core business” after all centres around so-called entry point wines but the monthly Sunday Best segment will be back to normal next month.
Top wine from a top producer
First up then is a white from Gerard Bertrand – one of the brilliant group of producers that have revitalised the wines of Languedoc – who has made this biodynamic blend of viognier, chardonnay and sauvignon into one of his top wines.
Enjoy especially the peach centred viscosity behind 2017 Gérard Bertrand Domaine de Cigalus White (£27.75 at www.fintrywines.co.uk and 14%) that rounds out its apple and quince fruit with aniseed and nutty twists then enlivens the entire package with gentle but well judged acidity.
Own label wine from a traditional wine merchant
We head to Italy for a red and a fantastic “own label” sangiovese from Berry Bros & Rudd that conclusively demonstrates that versions of the classic chianti grape need be neither enormous in body nor heavy in tannin.
I was hugely impressed by the medium bodied 2015 Berry Bros. & Rudd Rosso di Montalcino by San Giorgio (£19.95 and 13.5%) and by the cherry and even strawberry fruit it contains.
Background components of menthol, clove, chocolate and roses – along with subtle oak influences – confirm the extraordinary complexity this wine has to offer.
Lovely champagne from M&S
It is nicely balanced fare with an especially adroit use of previous years' reserve wine to provide consistency and enhance quality.
Enjoy then the softness and poise of Champagne Delacourt Brut (£30 at M&S and 12.5%) with its pithy grapefruit acidity, floral background, touches of peach but well judged biscuit influenced backbone.
No new promotions to tell you about next week but we shall be back with you again on 27 September to cover the next Lidl Promotion.
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