I put the new “this loves” Aldi wines range to the test. Which involves eating. Lots of it.

this loves Aldi wines range

Those wine labels are key to our buying habits (I’ve said many a time) and Aldi has hit on a canny marketing idea to draw us in to a new range of wines.

If you see “chicken” or “lamb” or “pizza” shouting at you in italics from the retailer’s wine aisles it is because the this loves Aldi wines range hooks into our desire to choose the best wine to go with food.

Aldi this loves wine range
The this loves Aldi wines range

It’s a clever little marketing ploy which will see six new this loves Aldi wines introduced by the end of October. The wines (all £4.99) are three whites – chardonnay, chenin blanc, pinot grigio – and three reds – sangiovese, malbec-shiraz and monastrell-petit verdot.

Sam Caporn,  Aldi’s wine expert, says: “A lot of shoppers find food and wine pairing intimidating, especially when faced with a wall of wine in some supermarket aisles. Aldi’s This…Loves range of wines features great tasting, approachable and food friendly bottles that have been created with food loving consumers in mind.”

You know I like it when a food gauntlet is thrown down and I couldn’t resist a little culinary playfulness.

I Put the this loves Aldi wines range to the test

I cooked pizza and poured “this sangiovese loves pizza” (12.5% abv) and for less than a fiver I thought it was a happy little wine.  It certainly wasn’t upset by the pizza challenge it had been set. But I disagree with the label description “richly full bodied” as it is  light bodied and fruity. That aside the strawberry and cherry flavour notes and decent acidity said “hey” to my pepperoni pizza and it said “hey” back.

this sangiovese loves pizza Aldi wine
this sangiovese loves pizza – a Pepperoni pizza

I made a hot pot and shared a bottle of “this monastrell petit verdot loves lamb” (13% abv) with chums, who agreed this wine did indeed love lamb. It has a combination of spice, black fruits, herbs and a flicker of violet.  It is  my favourite of the range. (Saying that, I’ve still to track down the “steak-loving” malbec. I’ll update!)

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I wasn’t as taken with the three whites and “this chardonnay loves chicken” (12.5% abv) made me the happiest. I’d fried chicken thighs in Moroccan spices with chilli and peppers and folded in some couscous.

Aldi probably didn’t have that chicken theme in mind. Sorry Aldi. The light fruitiness of the chardonnay (apples and citrus) cut through the spice and was a refreshing counterbalance.

You know I’m not a lover of pinot grigio (which “loves fish”) and it was well, it was OK-ish; and the chenin blanc which “loves fish and chips” was another oh-so wine. It is light on flavour, fruit and the satisfaction factor.

Overall though, not bad, not bad.

First published in over 30 regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner
– The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Gazette 
Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express 

Saint Clair wines: The day I met New Zealand winemaker Kyle Thompson

saint clair family estate

One of the best things I do is meet people who make wine. I can enthuse forever about a glass of wine; and I can enthuse even more if I’ve met the people behind that liquid treat.

Wine isn’t just about what it taste likes –  it’s about why it tastes like it does. Learning about the grapes, the geography, the people, the weather, the skill and the science – all that adds up to Geek overload for someone like me.

I met Kyle Thompson, the senior winemaker at Saint Clair Family Estate in Marlborough, New Zealand, who was on a flying visit from his shores to our shores.

Winemaker Kyle Thompson with his Saint Clair Barrique Sauvignon Blanc
Winemaker Kyle Thompson with his Saint Clair Barrique Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough has a fantastic reputation for sauvignon blanc and pinot noir wines yet it is still very much a region on a learning curve.

Kyle told me: “New Zealand is such a young wine-growing country. We Kiwis are learning fast – we’ve got to! We’re at the end of the world and we have to get out there and do it. We haven’t got 300 to 400 years of wine history, we’ve only got 35 or 40 years.

“At Saint Clair each vineyard has its own individual flavour and individual terroir and the whole ethos of Saint Clair is to capture the land and capture the flavour. That’s the secret to St Clair wines – power and pungency in sauvignon blanc and a beautiful intensity in our pinot noir.”

Here’s three Saint Clair wines:

Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (RRP £22.99, Majestic, Spirited Wines, New Zealand House of Wine) Tropical fruit, such as passion fruit, lychee and papaya play on the senses alongside blackcurrant leaf, green fruit and nettles. It has a wake-up call of acidity and vibrant fruit in the mouth, but the wine is beautifully in balance. The mouth sensation lasts a deliciously long time. It’s a power pack of Marlborough sauvignon blanc.

Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
Saint Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 14 Doctor’s Creek Pinot Noir 2015 (RRP £19.99, Majestic, Oddbins, New Zealand House of Wine) The grapes are selected from a single vineyard called Doctor’s Creek which is named after a small stream which runs through its centre. It has a moreish, complex nose – one nose dip brings coffee beans, another blackcurrant. Then there’s black cherry, redcurrant and plums. The wine has been aged in oak adding layers of complexity and a subtle spatter of spice.

Saint Clair Pioneer Block 14 Doctor's Creek Pinot Noir 2015
Saint Clair Pioneer Block 14 Doctor’s Creek Pinot Noir 2015

Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc Barrique (RRP £18.99, Wineman.co.uk, Strictly Wine)  I just loved this wine which was fermented in French oak barriques.  The wine is then aged on its lees for nine months, and stirred twice a week. The wine takes up the notes of the flavour-filled lees. The winemakers then choose only the most interesting wines to bottle and ultimately be savoured by the likes of you and me.  What a wow. I found notes of preserved lemons, butterscotch, candied peel and pineapple. The wine had a luscious mouthfeel.

Saint Clair Barrique Sauvignon Blanc
Saint Clair Barrique Sauvignon Blanc

Find out more about Saint Clair Family Estate here

Thanks to Corrigan’s at Mayfair for a delicious lunch and to Hallgarten Wines who organised the event.

Braised ox cheek with a glass of Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir
Braised ox cheek with a glass of Saint Clair Omaka Reserve Pinot Noir