Lidl’s French wine promotion delivers some great bargains

red wine glass

There’s a lovely lady I work with who keeps a special diary. It’s a diary of all the really really important events that take place in the country – nay, the world – at all times of the year.

She does other things too, this lady, very important things; but to me her diary is the most important thing of all.

For instance; I can tell you that recent Very Special Events included National Curry Week and Chocolate Week. It was also National Knitting Week.  If you had a celebration, I hope you  didn’t drop any stitches.

I think there should be an all-year-round event labelled Let’s Celebrate Great Wine Bargains. I’d even bake a cake.

The reason? A few weeks ago Lidl added 48 wines to its range, from across all of the classic regions of France including Bordeaux, the Loire Valley and Burgundy.

Lidl is one of the supermarket chains really upsetting the apple cart for the Big Guns at the moment, and this new range is expected to drive people even more to the stores. The French wine promotion in the UK is worth £12m and the Lidl group have sourced 5% of Bordeaux’s yield.

Lidl wines review

Lidl’s own consultant Master of Wine, Richard Bampfield, has cast his expert eyes (well, tastebuds) over the wines … and by Jimminy there’s some great bargains.

Ben Hulme, senior wine buyer, says: “We feel confident about the launch of our new French wines. We want to aim at people who have not considered us previously. The message is ‘come and a give it a try. Pick up a few bottles and see if you like them.”

I imagine you probably will. But you’ll have to be quick as the wines are available while stocks last and not all wines are available everywhere, and even if they are, there might not be alot of them. Keep an eye out nonetheless.

The best sellers, I’m told, have appeared to be Cotes de Gascogne 2013 (£4.99) Fitou AOP 2011 (£5.99) Bordeaux St Emilion AOP 2010 (£8.99) and the surprising one which is particularly popular, the Monbazillac AOC 2011 (£7.99)

 So, in my glass, three from Lidl:

Chateau Marjosse, Lidl
Bordeaux Chateau Marjosse 2012

Bordeaux Chateau Marjosse 2012 (£8.99) A fruitful deep red, the luscious-lips red of a 40s Hollywood siren. Truckles of black and red berry fruits, some spice and a mouth-watering juicy burst of acidity.

saint emilion grand cru lidl
Chateau Larcis Jaumat 2012 Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux

Chateau Larcis Jaumat 2012 Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux,  (£12.99) Loving this.  A wave of red berry fruits from the glass, rich and inviting, then a plummy depth of  raspberries and hedgerow fruits; bound up with spice, peppering away at your senses.

Domaine de Grangerie Mercurey 2012 Burgundy

Domaine de Grangerie Mercurey 2012 Burgundy (£9.99)  Medium-bodied, just like me. OK, I lied about that last bit. A tenner’s worth of smoky-edged red fruits, but lean and subtle, elegant and a little frisky on the acidity.

Back to curry and chocolate … I left you hanging there and I apologise.  Some brief wine tips on both, should the fancy take you, though not on the same plate I hope.

Chocolate: Try and match sweetness for sweetness. Avoid tannic reds … think of dessert wines. There’s some nice cheap ones, such as an orangey-flavoured Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro (chocolate and orange … yum) which is widely available for about £7.

Curry: Beer might be best, but if you are a wine freak (High Five) then a carmenere from Chile is a good bet or with a Chinese or Thai curry, try a riesling.

This first appeared in the saturday extra magazine October 18, 2014 

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Wines from 31dover.com team put to the taste test

Chablis Hipster ultraviolet wine bottle review

The only thing I’ve ever associated with wine, which glows in the dark, is yours truly. My pinkish nose and a wine flush around the cheeks are enough to brighten anyone’s journey once the sun goes down.

But I’ve discovered a gadgety-kind of wine bottle which glows in the dark too …  William Fèvre Limited Edition Hipster Chablis 2013 (£16.99 from 31dover.com) has   60s-style imagery created in ultraviolet ink, which reveals “hidden designs” when placed under black light.

Chablis Hipster ultraviolet wine review
Chablis Hipster ultraviolet wine

Or so I’m told. I couldn’t quite work out how to embrace the challenge of this light-up-in-the-dark party bottle, sent to me by the 31dover.com team. To be honest, I was a little taken aback that  Chablis had been robed in a gimmick.  But if it reaches a new market of “young urban wine drinkers” can that be so wrong?

Well let’s see.  I forgot the gimmick and tasted the wine. It’s a pale lemon colour with hints of honey and stewed apple on the nose, and a frizazz of apple-bursting acidity which liven up the tastebuds after a long dreary, wet October journey home.

The 31dover team sent me some other wines, and I enlisted the help of some Tasting Elves (is it too early for that?? OK, some Tasting Pumpkins to a) share the love and b) so you don’t have to read my   comments all the time.   This is what my Pumpkins say.  

Chablis Broc de Biques Damien & Romain Bouchard 2012
Chablis Broc de Biques Damien & Romain Bouchard

First up, another Chablis.  Chablis Broc de Biques Damien & Romain Bouchard 2012 (£14.49) This promised ‘ripe fruit, lightly brushed with honey’ and ‘classic Chablis notes of chalk and oyster shells’. I have never eaten oyster shells or chalk so I don’t know about those but it was bursting with apple and melon flavours and had a creamy, buttery after-taste which made it go down oh-so easily. A bit too easily in fact! Worked a treat with a chorizo risotto.

Chateau Grand Tayac Margaux 2007 (£13.99) is from one of the most famous Bordeaux appellations – although at the cheaper end of the Margaux spectrum – it’s a very affordable introduction to ‘proper’ Claret that will impress dinner party guests.

Chateau Grand Tayac Margaux 2007
Chateau Grand Tayac Margaux 2007

A sophisticated, perfumed nose with a hint of spice leads into subtle fruit flavours of plum and raspberry with a hint of liquorice.  There’s a complexity to the initial flavour that dissolves into a simpler, satisfying finish – a bit like watching Lionel Messi beat five defenders with a mazy run before scoring with a simple tap-in.

Mas D'Amile Old Vine Carignan 2010 wine review
Mas D’Amile Old Vine Carignan 2010

Mas D’Amile Old Vine Carignan 2010 (£8.99) This medium-bodied red from the Languedoc region of the south of France certainly packs a punch. A deep, ruby red I could taste the dark fruits and strong tannins of the carignan grape. It’s supposed to have hints  of lavender and thyme but I didn’t get any depth of aromas on sniffing my glass.  A bold wine.

Senorio de Orlartia Rioja wine review
Senorio de Orlartia Rioja

The Senorio de Olartia Reserva 2004 is a velvety and mellow Rioja. It’s not a hugely robust red but with flavours of red fruit paired with hints of vanilla and spice it can still hold its own with meat dishes.   As you would expect from a Reserva it strikes a good balance between its fruitier or more strongly oak flavoured Rioja counterparts with its smooth finish making it an easy drinking choice.

Sara & Sara Friulano wine review
Sara & Sara Friulano

A final one from me.  Sara & Sara Friulano 2010 (£9.49) An interesting wine which delivered an extra flavour, an extra aroma, every time I dipped in the glass. Deep golden, it had creamy honeyed notes on the nose; extravagant peaches which have been dowsed in liqueur for a Christmas treat. The aromas reminded me of a dessert wine like a Sauternes, but flattered with spice.  To taste, spicy and dry, not much fruit.

Published  in the saturday extra magazine October 11, 2014 

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express