Four Aldi wine reviews, because Mike at work likes his wine

Exquisite Collection Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin Aldi wine reviews

There’s a lovely chap I see by the photocopier at work and I’ll call him Mike because that’s his name.

Mike has been extolling the virtues of a merlot he loves. It’s called Grapevine Merlot, and he buys it from Aldi. So I bobbed up to Aldi to pick up his recommendation and bought more wine while I was there. It would have been rude not to.

Here’s Mike’s fave, along with another red for under a fiver and two Aldi wine whites for under £8.

Grapevine Merlot, (£3.09, in store only). This wine won’t knock you over in a wobbling heap of praise, but for a purse-friendly slurp then why not consider it. Aldi has sourced this wine from Spain and I bet it would be brilliant in a quick-and-easy summertime sangria. Or just allow  the flavours of black cherries and plums to comfort you when you need  … errrrrm … well, when you need a glass of red.

Estevez Chilean Pinot Noir (£4.79, £28.74 for six at I popped this in the fridge for a couple of hours. Pinot noir is lovely with a bit of a chill and Estevez had a chilled-out 2015, scooping three awards, including silver at the International Wine and Spirits Challenge. It is a flimsy, see-through negligee red, with a whimsy of peppery strawberries on the nose and spiky spicy red fruits to taste.

Exquisite Collection Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin (£7.99, £47.94 for six online). Wow said a pal as she dipped her nose in this. That’s nice! (she said). Pauline’s not a huge wine lover but this gold award-winning New Zealand white turned her head, and rightly so. Lime takes centre stage, light, tight, splendidly bright lime, alongside cushion softness and roundness from stone fruit.

Freeman’s Bay New Zealand Pinot Gris (£5.69, £34.14 for a case of six). Say hello to another white from New Zealand. Wine makers have taken the pinot gris grape and created a wine which is soft but plump, with aromas which say honeysuckle and spring flowers, and flavours which say melon, mango and pear.

There you go. Mike drove me to drink.

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Making sangria is more exciting than planting petunias

Sangria in the garden

I WAS very happy it  was sunny in the garden so I made sangria. I should have been planting the petunias, but you can’t write a drinks column about petunias.

With the garden fork cast to one side,  I Googled for inspiration and discovered as many recipe variations on the sangria  theme as there are Police Academy movies.

In the end I settled on two-parts red wine, two-parts fresh orange juice (without the “bits”) and one part lemonade.

I added all to a jug with  ice cubes and fresh orange slices.

I  toyed with adding strawberries but the punnet was earmarked for vanilla ice cream and crunchy meringues. No contest really.

But what of the wine? Surely I had to use a Spanish wine with this holiday memories drink.

Finca Manzanos Doncella Roja 2012 (£9.99,  is a wine created by people power.  Last autumn Virgin Wines invited customers to help develop a wine with the winemakers by voting on steps along the way such as oaking, the blend, the wine’s name and even the choice of its label.

Winemakers Finca Manzanos followed the votes in the Virtual Winery and Doncella Roja – The Red Maiden – is the result. The rioja-style wine is a blend of  tempranillo, (70%) and garnacha and has plum, vanilla and spice notes on the nose with  more of the same to taste.

Don’t think I added all the wine to my sangria – oh no, that would be sacrilege!  I Finca Manzanos Doncella Roja 2012, Virgin Winessipped some alongside crispy lamb chops straight off the barbie, with a herb and spice couscous salad.

I‘d voted  in Virgin’s  challenge –  it was fun, with  interesting blogs on winemaking to read along the way – but don’t expect the depth of oaky Spanish reds in this young wine. The sangria, by the way, was a sunshine hit – whether it was a traditional mix, I have no idea.

I was surprised last summer that I really enjoyed Gallo Family Vineyards Moscato with its moreish sweet bundles of peach and orange blossom; lovely on its own or with a slither of cheesecake or perhaps blue cheese.

Now Gallo has unveiled Gallo Family Vineyards Summer White (RRP £6.99 at all major UK retailers). It is only 5.5% abv – the moscato is 8.75% abv.

It has simple floral aromas and to taste,  pear  and apples – but not much lingering flavour.

Gallo has suggested a summer cocktail of its own; mixing six parts Summer White with one part vodka,  and lemon juice. I only had vodka with a lime twist, and lemonade. You know,  with lots of crushed ice, it was refreshingly tasty.

Also in my glass … a rosé, also from Rioja and made from 100 per cent  tempranillo.

Cune Rosado 2011, (Majestic, £8.99; buy two  bottles and save £4) is an ice cream van man’s juicy fruity raspberry topping  but with an elegant dryness and floral lift.

I’m happy to say I didn’t get any gardening done at the weekend.