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 

The Aldi wine team takes the game up to another level

Aldi Champagne Monsigny review

WE’RE funny, aren’t we, people. We can make decisions based on preconceived ideas; decisions based on perceptions, not fact. Take Aldi wine.

Remember that advertising slogan “it is a Skoda honest” …. well how about, “it is from Aldi, honest”.

Maybe Aldi is the retail equivalent of Skoda; in the public’s mindset it may not necessarily be synonymous with good wine. But perhaps the public should think again.

This year, the Aldi wine, beer and spirits range has received 92 accolades from internationally recognised competitions, including 22 awards at the International Wine Challenge; 37 at the International Wine and Spirits Competition and 13 at the International Spirits Challenge.

It has also been crowned Which? Supermarket of the Year 2012. Are you thinking again?

Aldi wines’ core range has made its mark – and now it is taking its game up to another level.

Later this month (November 22) Aldi is releasing a number of “premium wines”. It will include a grand cru non-vintage champagne and a sweet tokaji.

More on those later. My “it is from Aldi, honest” moment came this week as I tried three bottles from the Aldi wine core range.

They may not be stunners; but each is an award-winner, good value for money and very enjoyable too. So what’s not to like.

Macon Villages, Henri De Lorgére Chardonnay (£4.99) is a good example of the body and character of Burgundy white wines from the Mâcon Villages appellation. Made entirely from chardonnay, it is medium bodied and has the mouthfeel of a light, lemony, creamy sauce but with hints of hazelnut. Very nice.

Baron Amarillo Rioja Reserva 2006 (£5.99) is medium bodied with balanced, smooth, red spicy fruits from the tempranillo grape.

This was a good match with my Sunday lamb roast and a sweet partner to a crunchy parsnip.

Despite 13.5% ABV, it was not overpowering and very easy to drink.

A classic rioja reserva – aged for three years in oak barrels.

Aldi Champagne Brut NV by Philizot review
Aldi Champagne Brut NV by Philizot

Champagne Brut NV by Philizot (£12.99) is a blend of the classic Champagne grapes, with chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier, each making up a third of the wine.

There’s apple and brioche on the nose, and a fizz-bomb of apples and red fruit to taste with a slate of minerality.

This is fresh and fantastic value for money.

Don’t expect fireworks, but if you want a party champers without a high society price, you can’t go far wrong.

So back to Aldi’s upcoming range, on the shelves in time for Christmas. I haven’t had chance to taste these (I add Aldi’s own tasting notes) but on the basis of the core range, they’re worth seeking out.

Champagne Grand Cru NV £22.99 – intense and complex, with an almond nuttiness

Puligny Montrachet £16.99 – fresh and taut with balanced spicy oak and butter intensity

Chateau Marquis d’Alesme Becker, Grand Cru Classé £22.99 – silky texture and deliciously complex fruit

Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos 2000 £17.99 (50cl) – sublime orange marmalade, honey, lemon and dried apricots.

Another Champagne Charles Mignon Brut Premium Reserve NV Magnum £34.99 is to be released on November 29, – and, just in time for parties – Prosecco D.O.C. Extra Dry 2011 Magnum £14.99 is on sale from December 6. As too is Barolo 2008 £9.99.

This article first appeared in the Liverpool Post in November 2012