Wine Press: Award-winning wines from Lidl which are kind to the pocket

WE’RE all watching our pockets at the moment. Never more so than when we’re still paying off those random online buys in the New Year sales.

I thought I’d check out Lidl’s wines after browsing  the interweb and discovered the retail chain sells several award-winning wines at surprisingly low prices. How would the Price Taste Ratio fair, I wondered.

Since 2008, Lidl has won more than 200 awards from The International Wine and Spirits Competition, The International Wine Challenge, Decanter World Wine Awards and Quality Drink Awards.

The company sees that as “a very encouraging sign that we’re picking wines of good quality”. Here’s a glance at some of those award-winners.

Cimarosa Chilean Merlot I thought it was ok. Then I remembered Lidl was knocking this out at £3.99 a bottle. And I realised it was exceptionally OK indeed.

What does £3.99 buy you. A pint of bitter? Seven pints of milk? In this case, £3.99 buys you a double award winner (bit surprising) that won’t offend, isn’t heavy, and can service the full sweep of food from monkfish to marzipan.

It does come in that sort of bottle that screams cheap. But it’s Ok. It’s £3.99! Stick it in a decanter!  No-one need ever know the truth.

Cepa Lebrel Rioja Doca Joven Lidl wines
Cepa Lebrel Rioja Doca Joven, Lidl

Cepa Lebrel Rioja Doca Joven (£3.99)  Won bronze at the International Wine Challenge 2013. This is a young wine with a simple personality. Aromas of strawberries, cherries and  a twizzle of liquorice  are found nose-dip deep in the glass.  There’s a good spicy glug of fruit with a tongue-tip tannic dryness on the roof of the mouth. It’s not going to rock boats but I enjoyed its simplicity.

Chardonnay Vin de Pays d’OC  IGP  (£4.09)  was commended at the International Wine Challenge  last year.  It has light aromas of apples and pears and a touch of peach. It has a pleasant stone fruit taste –  not oodles of deep  flavours but has a fresh acidity which together with the fruit could make it an ideal midweek bottle to share.

Allini Asti Spumante  (£5.25)  Won bronze in the Decanter World Wine Awards 2013. It has  a sherbert dip aroma of peaches and limes. A gentle fizz, and  peaches to taste.

A few minutes after sipping, I ate a Jaffa Cake. Not interesting in itself, but then I tasted the wine again. It was really lovely. It’s not a wine for people who squeak  at  sweet things,  but otherwise a good  fiver’s worth of a fizzy-fresh pairing to chocolate orange dessert.  Or just drink with Jaffa Cakes.

Also in my glass

Le Petit Chat Malin. There are three wines in the brand; the rosé is a  blend of Grenache Noir, Cinsault and Syrah and  the white is made up of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Rousanne.

The red is a blend of old vine Grenache and Syrah. This is an easy-drinking and reasonably-priced red (£4.99 at Booths/£5.99 at Waitrose). From the sunny Languedoc-Roussillon region of  France, there’s plenty of juicy fruit notes and a slight hint of spice on the finish that adds an extra dimension.  A bit of a bargain if you can find it –  other stockists include Londis, Nisa and Bargain Booze.

Published in the saturday extra magazine February 15, 2014

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

Wine Press: Pink fizz to share on Valentine’s Day

Tesco Finest Rosé Champagne review

VALENTINE’S. It’s the time of year when the card shops  make a killing, florists’  fingers flurry, men panic and wine shelves empty  quicker than Old Trafford  in the 80th minute.

What better reason  to taste  some sparklie glasses of  pink fizz.

Champagne Jacquart, Brut Mosaïque Rosé NV  (£30, online at  greatwesternwine.co.uk and you’ll see  it in several other  stores) is a soft  salmon pink in  colour. It has  aromas of  doughnuts and  icing sugar.

That probably  doesn’t sound as  classy as it should.  But imagine the lovely  sweet, warm, bakes, with  soft icing sugar clinging  on top and the rising  scent of a dab of  strawberry. That’s what I  mean. To taste, lovely  fresh strawberries folded  in with some peaches and  a touch of acidity.

Tesco Finest Rose Champagne review
Tesco Finest Rose Champagne

Tesco Finest Rosé Champagne (£19.99, reduced from £23.99 until February 25) is an elegant little glass of fizz. It has won bronze at the International Wine Challenge and I’d be very happy if it was my Valentine’s Day treat.

It is more unassuming on the nose than the  Jacquart. There’s  redcurrants and a wisp  of citrus, which also flirts in the mouth with a good crisp long-lasting  aftertaste. A sparkler to  savour and relish.

I tried ever so hard to  enjoy Blossom Hill Italian Sparkling Zinfandel Rosé (I  bought in Tesco for  £6.99, reduced from  £8.99 until February 14.  It is widely available  elsewhere). It has a  heart-shaped label so  it should be a shoo-in  for romance.

It has very sweet  strawberries on the  nose; a hit of jam,  or one of those very  sweet cake fancies.  The two elements  which should balance  – fruit and acidity  – didn’t tie together. It had syrupy sweetness.

 Sorry if you like the wine; it’s just not for me.

On the upside, for a  fiver at Asda you can pick  up an award-winning  cava, Berberana Gran  Tradicion Rose Brut, NV,  and it’s pretty nice too. It  won a silver at last year’s  International Wine  Challenge.

Cava shouldn’t be  overlooked by  sparklie-seekers. It has far more complexity than a simple fizz-driven prosecco which is made by fermenting just one grape inside a steel tank.

This hums with smoky,  herby, red fruits and  cherries. It has a decent  cherry-laden fizz which  sadly disappears too   quickly, but hey, so does  the wine.