Aldi wine range sets standards at prices hard to ignore

Aldi Exquisite Collection Limestone Coast Chardonnay

Well knock me over with a wet tea towel and force me to drink  lager and black.

Sometimes I come across some corkers of wines; and they’re even better when they’re not only cheerful, but cheap too.  I’m talking the Aldi wine range which is setting  some really good standards and if you haven’t already picked up on that by word of mouth – or glass to lips – then where have you been?

I know I’m not always enthusiastic about chardonnay  but one sip of Limestone Coast Chardonnay (Aldi, £5.99) and I was texting friends. The Australian wine is unoaked, is full of tropical fruit but has  slight creaminess because of some lees aging. It had the same kind of fresh zinginess you might expect from a sauvignon blanc.Aldi Exquisite Collection Limestone Coast Chardonnay wine

Limestone Coast – commended in both the Decanter awards and the International Wine Challenge this year  – is part of Aldi’s Exquisite Collection which was  launched last  November. It has sold over two million bottles  since then.

So far in 2013,  Aldi’s beers, wines and spirits range has received 100 accolades, including 33 awards at the International Wine Challenge and 35  at the International Wine and Spirits Competition.

A couple of fizzies to definitely look out for include Aldi Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore (£7.29). My notes say:  This fizzed, and  fizzed again. Lemons and  freshly-cut apples and pears on the nose led to  a   long-lasting taste of   pears and apples. Mouth-watering to the last.

Aldi Champagne Philizot Brut NV (£12,99) has won three silvers this year which isn’t to be sniffed at. If you do,  don’t get the bubbles up your nose. It’s a party wine to brag  “Champers” to guests    without raiding the piggy bank.

Violets and bilberries ooze from Aldi’s Malbec (£5.99)  from the Uco Valley in  Argentina  – another wine  in the Exquisite Collection  and one of the best-selling.   It’s a very pleasant red with integrated tannins and  spicy  fruits.

The Exquisite Collection  Shiraz  (£5.99) went well with a cupboard/fridge/forgot-to-shop meal  I made this week with sauteed peppers, chillis, mushrooms, bacon, red pesto and tumbled spaghetti. I looked at the shiraz – it looked at me. Shiraz and an  Italian plate?

Plums, black fruits, chocolate and liquorice layers have brought this Australian wine    commended and  silver awards in 2013. And deservedly so.

Published in the saturday extra magazine September 14, 2013

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

Mark change of seasons with springtime lamb and red wine

Piccini Orange Label Chianti review

It feels as if I’ve been waiting for Spring to spring for, well, ever since the clocks went back last autumn.

Now it’s here I’ll be greeting it with one of my favourite roast dinners,  lamb, with a glass of springtime red wine.

With Easter just around the corner next week, I’m thinking about red wine you could have with a succulent rosemary studded, or garlic infused, pinkly-tempting slice of lamb.

Whether it’s roasted or slowly braised in wine, the choice to drink with lamb has to be a red.

Aldi’s Exquisite Collection South Eastern Australia Shiraz (£5.99) scores well in the lamb taste test – it has a big fruity nose and fresh fruit flavours combined with a hint of spice and dark chocolate that red winegive it depth.

It more than holds its own against the assorted condiments – a great value wine.

By far one of the best choices for lamb has to be a Spanish rioja – or how about Minarete Ribera Del Duero, (£5.49, also Aldi) from its wine region neighbour.

Aldi is setting some terrific standards for good wines at great value, and here’s another. The vines growing the Tempranillo grape for this wine are 50 years old, and the wine is layered with cherries and red fruits.

It is soft and supple, fresh and moreish. At this price, maybe one wine bottle to braise some lamb – another to drink as you eat it? Just a thought.

To a couple of wines from the warmth of southern France, full-bodied and shouting out “spring!” from the sun-dappled rooftops. We can but dream. Chateau Sainte Eulalie, Plaisir d’Eulalie Minervois, 2011 (£8.70, www.tanners-wines.co.uk) is a blend of carignan and syrah along with fruity-rich no-holds-barred grenache. The grapes for this wine did their “growing up” on pebbly south-facing slopes in the Languedoc and jammy fruit, spicy cherries and moderately high acidity combine to say “drink me, drink me” with herb-crusted grilled lamb.Domaine de Villemajou Gérard Bertrand Corbières Boutenac review

Domaine de Villemajou Gérard Bertrand, Corbières Boutenac 2010 (Majestic, £14.99, buy two bottles, save £6 until April 29) is another sun-soaked blend of carignan, syrah and grenache and benefits from a few hours opening before reaching its drinking best. The peppery notes reminded me of a crispy, barbecued-tinged Cumberland sausage but marinaded in not-too-sweet but very fruity blackberry jam.

Work that one out.

The crispy edges of lamb, you know, the fatty scrunchy bits, and a glug of this wine. Lovely.


Also in my glass

Piccini Orange Label Chianti 2011 (RRP £7.99 at Morrisons and Sainsbury)

Piccini Orange Label Chianti wine reviewI had the simplest of suppers, pasta tossed with onion, tomatoes and freshly-torn basil.

Not exactly Masterchef but quick enough when time needs to be devoted to writing a wine column.

Traditional sangiovese and up to 5% of ciliegiolo make up the blend of this chianti which has ripe red fruit and soft tannins.

It was a decent example of chianti on its own, but raised its game with the bowl of Italian food with a sprinkling of parmesan.

It should also match well with a quickly grilled lamb cutlet.

Published in the Liverpool Post March 23, 2013