Tag Archives: Lidl wine

Big black wines to see winter out

3 Mar

Just when we thought an early spring had arrived the weather turned brutal again, and the Wine Wanderers have been getting through the last of winter with some big, black wines we don’t drink at other times of the year.
Not to say we eschew rich reds altogether – we always enjoy a good syrah with a hunk of lamb – but there are wines which pack so much punch we approach them with caution, including our beloved Barolo, reserved for special occasions.

Biggest and blackest of all wines is malbec, too rarely tempered with a soupcon of anything, which we tired of for a while after tasting more than 70 in a week on a visit to Argentina(wine-makers here are doing much more interesting things with other varietals), but have now acknowledged the need to revisit.

Malbec, however much the Argentinians claim it for their own, was the pride of Cahors in south-west France before the wine-makers of Mendoza decided to get seriously stuck into it.   While always big and in the hands of the Argentinians pretty reliable, it can be a one-note wine devoid of any subtlety.   However, the Wanderers got the chance to appreciate its finer nuances courtesy of Chateau de Mercues, a distinguished domaine which makes some very fine bottles indeed in the Cahors region.

The Wanderers thought the Prestige Cuvee 6666 2014 was as good as it was going to get at a recent London tasting until the very special Icone WOW 2009 from sister domaine Chateau de Haute-Serre was poured – simply sumptuous.   Annoyingly, there is not yet any UK distribution for these bottles and vintages, but Dulwich Vintners does sell Mercues’s slightly less elevated Grand Vin at prices from £18 per bottle, depending on the vintage.  One delightful way of getting Mercues’s top wine would be to visit the vineyard, which is attached to a Relais & Chateaux hotel with a Michelin-starred restaurant, and pick up the 6666 for 28 euros a bottle, the Icone an eye-watering five times as much at the cellar door.

Encouraged by how fine a malbec can be in the hands of good winemakers, we decided to sample an award-winning Argentinian example from Aldi, their Exquisite Collection Malbec, which has bagged a Which? Best Buy award as well as winning Silver in competition.   It was fine, but paled into insignificance beside an astonishing big black bottle from France Aldi is currently fielding.   Bonfleur Languedoc Reserve 2011 may not contain any malbec whatsoever, but for a syrah/grenache/mourvedre blend, always a good bet for body and flavour, it is absolutely huge, positively forcing you to sip and savour rather than quaff.

The secret is the age – this wine was found lying around the chateau by the new owners of the domaine, Mas des Belles Eaux.  It had somehow been forgotten for four or five years, and has gained enormously in complexity during that time.   Tasting as good as a bottle three times the price, this £6.99 wonder is one to bag now before the limited stock vanishes forever; note Aldi offer free delivery and allow you to make up your own case in the unlikely event you wouldn’t want to buy at least six of these(we are about to order our next half-dozen, if there are any left).

Another limited edition offering is from Lidl – an inky-looking syrah which somehow has been listed in their “Naturally Light” range.  That’s because their MW taster found “freshness” in Cave du Tain, a rich Rhone with a deep colour and slightly gamey taste.   But unlike some malbecs, it only looks inky and doesn’t actually taste of black ink!

Advertisements

Valentine’s drinking – it’s not just about great pinks and fabulous fizz

11 Feb

What to drink with Valentine’s Day dinner?  Marketing hype says it ought to be fizz, still or sparkling pink or at the very least a red or white with a heart on its label.

So far, so cliched; what you really want is a sexy wine which will perfectly complement the aphrodisiac feast you plan to serve – or to enjoy as an aperitif before a dinner out.    In respect of the former, pink sparkling wine is hard to beat; generally less acid than white, it immediately creates a festive air and provides a feast for the eyes as well as a tickle for the tastebuds.

Champagne is no longer de rigeur now that we’re growing our own fizz, and it’s hard to beat a sparkling rose from Chapel Down.   But if the real thing is desired for its ooh-la-la cachet, Lanson rose is a bargain this week on promotion at £25 from Sainsburys.

Still rose is always a joy when well-made, particularly the gorgeous pale golden pinks from Provence.   You’re unlikely to find any of the Miraval made by Brangelina till spring- inevitably this small production sells out every year – but you could try the delicate violet-pink Pure from the similarly-named Mirabeau at Waitrose; not cheap at £12.99 but elegant.

Mirabeau is owned by an English couple, ironic considering that the English are doing a pretty good job with still rose themselves.   The Wanderers enjoyed the Broadwoods Folly, £7.99 at Lidl who have added three English wines to their selection for the first time.

Although rose is an apt partner for chicken, white meats and spicy food, if you have your heart set on oysters, you’ll want a decent white.    One Wanderer believes nothing but Chablis will do for oysters, but the other thinks the money would be better spent on Sainsburys Taste the Difference Sancerre, a sensational example of the genre at £13.  It will also work with asparagus, the other most-touted aphrodisiac food, which M&S have managed to get from their British growers in time for this year’s Valentines weekend.

 
A bottle with a heart on the label which would also partner asparagus is the Bordeaux sauvignon blanc known as Good Ordinary White  from Berry Brothers & Rudd, who got Paul Smith to design a special Valentines Day label for this and their Good Ordinary Claret.  While the white is lovely, the red suffers like most claret under £10 from being too young for full enjoyment.   To accompany steak or duck, better to splash out a fully developed voluptuous wine from southern Europe – the excellent Ribera del Duero by Condado del Hazo, £15 at Sainsburys or the austerely elegant Terre del Barolo from Waitrose, £18.79.  These are pricey treats, but decent reds from the New World are available at Lidl for less, including Lodi zinfandel from California, £4.99, and Axis cabernet sauvignon from Margaret River in Australia, home of great reds, for £6.49.

Paul Smith Good Ordinary White       For value and reliability, you can’t beat the “i heart” range which is a lynchpin of convenience store shelves.  Despite the rather naff label, most are eminently quaffable and true to variety, with the exception of the sauv blanc, which tastes suspiciously sweet – added sugar to please girly palates?   A nice enough drop for an aperitif, but keep it away from the oysters!

Festive fizz and great value supermarket reds to see in a Happy New Year

28 Dec

The festive season started with some extraordinary fizz for The Wine Wanderers, continuing with a few excellent red wines which have reminded us what spectacular value the high street can offer.

 
First, the fizz – and none are more festive to look at than the exquisite hand-painted bottles and flutes which distinguish Perrier Jouet(pronounce that Jou-ETT), the favourite Champagne of Grace Kelly and Coco Chanel.   The brand has just taken over the Winter Garden of The Sanderson, one of London’s buzziest drinking destinations, for a season of old-fashioned fizz served the old-fashioned way.   For £65 a couple can enjoy a glass each of the spectacular Belle Epoque 2007 with a taste of Oscietra caviar, a pairing that always works.   The non-vintage Grand Brut is only £15 a glass, but frankly no match for the spectacular Belle Epoque.

We saw in Christmas Day with more fizz, another spectacular vintage bottle from Veuve Cliquot, but the star of our feast was inevitably a rich red wine.   Sainsburys  Taste the Difference 2012 Amarone made a spectacular partner for our turkey and is worth grabbing while on promotion at £14 until New Years Day.   Had we feasted on beef, we would have paired it with the Waitrose In Partnership Reserve Shiraz from St. Hallett, an elegant drop at £11.99.

It’s hard to beat supermarkets on price for still wines, given their buying power, and the quality you can get for under £10 is staggering.   One of the best reds we’ve tasted this year was pinotage from Morrisons. The M Signature label was worth every penny of £6.99 for a rich red which Decanter rightly awarded Gold, and the everyday value version which just picked up its own medal in the International Wine & Spirit Competition is ridiculously good value at  £4.  This is a store whose own-label wine(like its meat department, also to be recommended) should be regularly checked out – out of nine new medals they won in the IWSC, seven were for wines costing less than £5; they include the excellent Morrisons own-label South African merlot which took Silver.

 
Lidl is no longer a well-kept secret, especially for lovers of affordable luxury, and we’ve greatly enjoyed being able to buy Californian zinfandel, one of our favourite grapes, there for £4.99 a bottle, less than half what a red this good should cost, while stocks last.   The only problem with Lidl wines is that when they’re gone they’re gone, but their huge buying power means a great new raft of fine wine bargains will always follow; this store also had its fair share of IWSC winners.

 

Of course judging wine is subjective, and what shocks the experts can still please the punters.   The Wine Wanderers’ guilty supermarket pleasure of the year was Apothic Red, a blend of zinfandel, merlot and petite syrah which has been sweetened up in production by industrial wine-makers Gallo, but to us seems the essence of the California we once lived in enjoying affordable but well-made homegrown wines, whence this blend came.  Six out of seven Sainsburys shoppers who reviewed it loved it too( though one agreed with wine critics who deplore the added sugar), and it’s on promotion there at £8 till New Years Day.  You may also find it at ASDA and Tesco.