The Claret Offensive isn’t a football strategy; though it’s certainly a winning formula. Last year the Lidl wines team launched its challenge to lure wine lovers into its stores with a promotion of over 50 wines. And now it is at it again.
A couple of days ago a new £12m campaign began with 40 French wines added to the supermarket’s range.
Wines are from classic regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, the Loire and Rhône Valley and will be available until stocks last. Prices start from £4.99 for a pinot gris from Languedoc-Roussillon, and go up to £16.99 (a Margaux from Château la Tour de Bessan).
Lidl UK’s consultant Master of Wine, Richard Bampfield, assessed all the wines and anything that scored below 80 out of 100 hasn’t been allowed on sale.
Styles include Fleurie (Bordeaux, £7.99) Vacqueyras (Rhône, £8.99) and Gewürztraminer (Alsace, £7.99).
Ben Hulme, Lidl’s Head of Beers, Wines and Spirits, says: “It is encouraging to see the UK has a real appetite for good quality wines. This year we have worked closely with many large and small chateaux to provide our customers with a mixture of very well-known and some lesser known wines such as white Châteauneuf-du-Pape.”
I’ve tried some of the range. Let’s kick off with the white Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
You’ll know about red Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but whites are a rarity, making up a tiny production of the region. They are generally a blend of rousanne, clairette, bourboulenc and grenache blanc.
Particulière Châteauneuf-du-Pape (£12.99) is in the traditional bottle of the region, embossed with the Papal coat of arms. This is a fruit cocktail of peaches and apricots. If you haven’t tried a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape think of it as similar to viognier (a varietal cousin from the Rhône). If you haven’t tasted viognier (you should) then trust me that this is a good white to buy for an autumnal day, very fruity and a little waxy. You could even think ahead for whites on your Christmas table. (Eek! My first mention of Christmas.)
Château Lagrange Lussac-Saint-Émilion (£8.99) is from Bordeaux’s left bank and as in all red wines from that area, fruity merlot takes centre stage. I tried it with a steak in peppercorn sauce and it was a perfect partner; fruity with just a sprinkle of spice.
Champagne Henri Delattre Champagne Brut (£5.99 for a half bottle) is a naughty little treat at just over a fiver. It’s not complex, it has simple aromas of biscuit with red apples and a frizzle of fizz. Girls – hide it in the fridge and treat yourself when you’re home alone.
Domaine Saint Prix Saint-Bris (£8.99) is from Burgundy where you’d expect all white wines to be from the Chardonnay grape. But this appellation is unusual in that wines are made from sauvignon. It is delicious, with typical sauvignon aromas and flavours and a touch of steely minerality. I poured a glass for a pal and she loved it.
Published in the saturday extra magazine September 5, 2015