Once viewed with a certain degree of skepticism, the German discounters have fundamentally changed our supermarket habits. Not only because one can buy scuba-diving equipment and a welding torch along with their groceries, but because Lidl and Aldi bring a practical efficiency to shopping-small ranges of good quality products at a consistent and competitive price. Their wine range is no different, where the quality is constantly improving in an attempt to entice the well-heeled through their doors.
Their bare-bones approach means they don’t offer the service knowledge or rare, niche wines offered by an independent wine specialist, but their unrivaled buying power means they can offer superb value at the budget end. Over these next two posts I will recommend some of the best value wines offered by Lidl and Aldi.
Lidl White Wines
Cimarosa New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (€8.79)
For the past number of years New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has been on the crest of a wave that doesn’t look likely to break any time soon. Consequently, the prices have steadily increased and it is hard to find good wines under €15. This example from Lidl is a great bargain at €8.79. On the nose it has the typical cooler Sauvignon Blanc notes of freshly cut grass and green vegetables. On the palate it offers a touch of passion fruit, with a lovely acidity and weight of mouth feel. This is a lovely wine at an extremely competitive price.
Engelberg JP Muller Alsace Grand Cru AOP Riesling 2012 (€12.99)
To some the second white will be a little from left-field; a fantastic introduction to Alsace Riesling. The Alsace Grand Cru appellation designates the prime vineyards and (theoretically) best wines within the greater Alsace region, which borders Germany in east France. Strict quality criteria, such as grape yields and minimum ripeness levels, have to be met to qualify for the designation. Many consumers are
wary of buying Riesling, uncertain of whether it will be sweet or dry, but it is a wonderfully adaptable, aromatic grape that should be explored and most Alsatian wines are dry (sweet wines will have Vendange Tardive or Sélection de Grains Nobles on the label).
This wine is dry with an enticing smokey minerality, offering soft white and tropical fruit on top of red grapefruit flavours. There is a hint of floral and a lovely rich mouth feel with a satisfyingly long finish of pear and lime. A delicious wine that will reward the adventurous!
There are a number of other budget wines worth an honourable mention;
Cimarosa Australian Chardonnay/Colombard 2014 (€6.49),
Cimarosa Californian Chardonnay 2013 (€6.49),
Macon-Villages AOP 2014 (€9.99),
Roessslin Alsace Riesling AOP (€9.99).
Lidl Red Wines
Baturrica Gran Reserva Tarragona DO 2007 (€7.99)
The first red is from Catalunya in northern Spain. Made from a blend of Tempranillo (Ull de Llebre in Catalan) and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, it is aged for 2 years in oak before bottling, before being cellared for at least three years to integrate the oak and smooth out the tannins. This long oaking and ageing process produces a complex, full-bodied wine with big notes of vanilla and toast alongside more balsamic and meaty flavours. However, like any good Gran Reserva there is also more than its fair share of red berries and blackcurrant fruits present that belies the fact it is 8 years old. A big bold and rich wine similar to a Gran Reseva Rioja, but without the same price tag.
Chateau Sigognac Medoc AOP Cru Bourgeois 2010 (€12.99)
This Bordeaux is a lovely alternative to the Spanish bruiser above. 2010 was a great vintage in Bordeaux and this wine shows all the complexity and finesse one would expect. Loads of black berried fruits and hint of smoke and spice, this wine has great body and good round tannins. It finishes with a rich and long length of blackcurrants and pepper. Delicious claret.
Lidl Sweet Wine
Vidal Pillitteri Estates Canadian Icewine, 20cl (€18.00)
Icewine is one of the most fascianting methods of wine production. The grapes (usually Riesling) are left on the vine until winter begins. Only when the temperature reaches –8° C, and the grapes freeze through, are they hand picked (usually at night). The grapes are pressed immediately, leaving behind the frozen water and releasing a small quantity of juice- intense with concentrated sugars, acids, flavours and aromas- that is slowly fermented. Because of the lost water weight, it takes roughly ten times the quantity of grapes to make an icewine compared to a regular dry wine. Due to these demanding production methods, icewines can be prohibitively expensive, but the Lidl example is fabulous value, despite the small bottle size. A little glass will go a long way.
Coming from the Niagara region of Canada this complex wine has terrific apricot, honey, peach and pineapple flavours. It’s sweetness is tempered by high acidity, leaving your mouth feeling fresh, with the long lingering kiss of honeyed fruits. Enjoy a small glass of this with dessert.