ALDI’S CHRISTMAS WINES 2017:
MY TASTING NOTES
These notes cover all of the Aldi Christmas range (the other wines you will see on the shelves will be mainly core range, i.e. there all the time). These are seasonal so, if you like them, grab them now!
The order is a bit random in that it’s the order in which I translated my hieroglyphs into English after a press tasting in London back in September. But whites are first, then reds, then sparkling, then sweet, then fortified.
While I should mention that I work with Aldi Ireland in the realm of wine I have to say that there isn’t a single duff wine here and some of them are simply outstanding.
I have marked my Top Picks which are simply my personal favourites. You may or may not share my taste!
JEAN BOUCHARD CHABLIS 2015
This classic white Burgundy, 100% Chardonnay, makes me think of seafood. Crisp and dry, with a definite mineral tang, it’s just right with everything from oysters to fish and chips.
CLARE VALLEY RIESLING 2017
The latest vintage of this multi-award-winning bone dry, classic Oz Riesling that ticks all of the boxes. It has lime, grapefruit, apple and zesty, fresh acidity with a mineral kick on the finish. For anyone who thinks Riesling is sweet and old-fashioned this is a life-changing experience!
HENRI DE LORGERE SANCERRE 2016
From Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown on the famous Silex combination of clay and flint soils in the Loire Valley, this is Sancerre as it should be. Pungent, dry, flinty and fabulously elegant.
REDWOOD HILLS AWATERE SINGLE VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016
Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc but not as we know it! Breathtakingly intense, it’s citrus zest, lemongrass, passionfruit, even crushed nettles! Bone dry, stupendously stylish limited edition. Grab it now.
THE FORGOTTEN ONE ENTRE DEUX MERS 2016
Bizarrely Bordeaux, but not what you’re thinking. This is more like a Loire Sauvignon, grapefruit zest on the nose, deliciously creamy texture and very dry on the finish.
CASTELLORE GRECO DI TUFO DOCG 2016
An Italian white wine from the baking heat of the far south in Campania, it’s nevertheless as fresh and crisp as a frosty morning. The Greco grape takes a mineral quality from the volcanic soil and adds that to a Granny Smith apple fruitiness. Very dry, very zingy and nicely different.
GAVI DI GAVI DOCG 2016
If you want a break from, say, Sauvignon Blanc, why not try the Cortese grape? It’s at its best here in north-western Italy where it develops a lovely peach or apricot character that comes with an enticingly floral aroma and a crisp backbone. Dry and delicate, with real elegance.
ASTELIA LIMOUX 2016
A Chardonnay from the Languedoc that tastes like very expensive white Burgundy. Tasted blind, this could so easily be mistaken for a luscious Meursault at four times the price or more. Perfect fruit balanced by a backbone of acidity, generously oaked, an impeccably made white wine. This is where the really smart money goes.
EXQUISITE COLLECTION LIMESTONE COAST CHARDONNAY 2016
Australian Chardonnay, but not as most people know it. For a start, it’s unoaked and delivers clean, pure, fresh fruit – think peach and tangy pineapple. Aged on its yeast lees, it has a creamy, buttery character, with a crisp, lingering finish.
LEYDA SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016
There are Sauvignon Blanc wines and there is this one! From cool vineyards in Chile, it’s dry and fresh and pungently varietal. It’s Sauvignon Blanc with the volume turned up to 11 but it manages subtlety too and oodles of genuine style. If you thought you were tiring of Sauvignon Blanc, this wine will convert you.
THE PROJECT SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017
Totally tropical! This is a collaboration between two brilliant South African winemakers who scoured the vineyards of the Cape to find just the fruit they craved. Very dry, exceptionally fresh and zesty, it’s all grapefruit zest and ripe, luscious pineapple.
LEAF PLUCKER SAUVIGNON BLANC 2017
Leaf Plucker is back and it’s no ordinary Sauvignon Blanc. At first it tastes dry and crisp with blackcurrant leaf and green pepper aromas but then you get the honeysuckle and the ripe peaches. Part-fermentation in expensive French oak casks adds extra complexity and layers of flavour.
TE RAKAU HAWKE’S BAY CHARDONNAY 2016
Te Rakau means 'the wood' in Maori but there’s no wood in the wine. This is pure fruit, deliciously clean and clear, not typical New World tropical fruit. Instead we’re getting apple, lemon, and a touch of peach.
DOMAINE DE LA ESTELLE CAIRANNE 2016
A big deep purple Rhone wine, mainly ripe, round Grenache, with peppery Syrah and Mourvedre. Ripe plums and spice too, even a whiff of tobacco.
FINCA LA PAMPA BARREL SELECTION PINOT NOIR UCO VALLEY 2016
This is where Argentina comes of age and does a stunning take on classic red Burgundy right down to the light, distinctive colour but not the price! As they say in Burgundy, “a steel hand in a velvet glove”. Glorious.
THE VENTURER SERIES
COSTIERES DE NIMES 2016
It’s amazing how this wine actually smells of the garrigue, that amazing mixture of herbs that grow wild all over the south of France. But it also has dark cherry fruit, damsons and black pepper from the blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah.
HEREDAD DEL CASTILLO RIBERA DEL DUERO ROBLE 2016
All you would expect from Tempranillo vines half a century old, rich, intense and with the vanilla scent from three months oak. Black fruit gums and brown sugar, blackberries but dry and savoury.
TORO LOCO BARRICA RESERVA UTIEL-REQUENA 2013
This is our old favourite Toro Loco taken to a new level with more fruit, more oak, more everything! It’s half Tempranillo with some Bobal, Merlot, Shiraz and even Cabernet. Big, friendly, complex.
TORO LOCO EDICION MEMORIA UTIEL-REQUENA 2015
Toro Loco strikes again, this time with a combination of Bobal, Tempranillo and Merlot matured in clay amphorae based on the wine vessels of antiquity and then finished in oak casks. Fascinating and different.
GRANDE ALBERONE ORGANIC RED WINE BLACK BIO
A limited edition organic wine with humungous fruit and an intense dark cherry character. This Italian blockbuster has bramble fruit, stewed prunes, even dark chocolate and gentle, easy tannins. Quite a mouthful!
LA SOGARA AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA 2014
Made in the traditional way from partly-dried grapes so as to concentrate everything, not just the fruit but also alcohol at 15% abv. But it wears all this with style and while it’s a big red wine with a touch of sweetness, it’s also gentle and complex.
EC VALPOLICELLA RIPASSSO 2014
Impressively dark, rich and intense, this is no ordinary Valpolicella thanks to the ripasso technique used in its creation. This adds concentration so what we get is a dry red wine with oodles of cherries, black plums and a touch of bitter almonds.
BARONE BRUNI CHIANTI CLASSICO RISERVA DOCG 2013
This is the true taste of Tuscany, made from Sangiovese grapes and aged in oak barrels. And being a classic riserva it has not just the usual tart cherries but also ripe plums and fragrant flowers with just a touch of smoky vanilla. In other words, it delivers so much more than just a basic, juicy Chianti.
GRANDE ALBERONE ZINFANDEL 2015
In Italy, where this big, brawny red wine is made, Zinfandel (famous in California) is known as Primitivo. It’s made to be big, velvety and seductive with swathes and swathes of silky, sweet, sumptuous fruit. Black cherries and spice and lots of them!
EXQUISITE COLLECTION FLEURIE 2016
Absolutely everything a Fleurie should be, from the raspberry and cherry juiciness to the delicate finish. A wine that’s as pretty as its name. And because the Gamay grape here is very gentle on tannin, you can chill it lightly and enjoy its cool refreshing character.
EXQUISITE COLLECTION LA DIFFRE PLAN DE DIEU 2015
Forget the “Cotes du Rhone” bit! This exceptional red from the southern Rhone is much more like a statuesque Chateauneuf-du-Pape – except more keenly priced - with its swathes of silky Grenache fruit and peppery, dark chocolate Syrah notes. It will sing with any roast meat, dark or light.
ASTELIA PEZENAS 2016
Jean-Paul Mas is the trail-blazing winemaker behind this chunky yet stylish Languedoc red wine. Combining tradition and New World flair he gets the most out of this blend of Syrah and Grenache, starting with premium grapes. It has lots of dark fruits along with black pepper, olives, spice, liquorice and toasty vanilla.
CHATEAU LARMANDE SAINT EMILLION GRAND CRU CLASSÉ 2014
A stunningly elegant, complex wine with a fabulously fragrant nose, plenty of plump, ripe fruit and utterly classic structure. 65% Merlot and largely aged in new French oak, this is red Bordeaux at its seductive best. Delicious now but capable of ageing for at least a decade.
EXQUISITE COLLECTION RIOJA RESERVA 2013
Mainly Tempranillo with just a little Mazuelo and Graciano in the blend, this is classic Rioja in all its fruity, oaky glory. Ripe strawberry fruit, just enough vanilla from the wood, round, soft tannins and a long finish. Its natural partner is lamb cooked on the pink side but great with beef too.
ANIMUS DOURO DOC 2015
The pepper and ripe plums on the nose might suggest that this hot climate Portuguese red is going to be a whopper but, in fact, it’s deliciously elegant and nicely balanced. Ripe red fruits, herbs, even a suggestion of cedarwood, soft and round in the mouth but with grippy tannins on the finish.
ZOM DOURO RESERVA DOC 2015
A dark, seriously structured red from Portugal’s Douro Valley and distinguished producer, Barao de Vilar. Like so many Aldi selections, it tastes considerably dearer than it actually costs. Made from old vine native varieties Touriga Nacional and Touriga Frances, 40% is aged in new French oak. Elegant, intense, long.
EXQUISITE COLLECTION SOUTH AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZ 2016
Definitely Shiraz from Oz, not Syrah from France! Tons of ripe, succulent blackberry fruit, round and supple tannins, warm spices and that distinctive Australian suggestion of mint/eucalyptus. Big, easy and seductive.
EXQUISITE COLLECTION NEW ZEALAND PINOT NOIR 2016
An outstandingly pure and distinctive Pinot Noir from the mineral rich soils of Wairarapa on New Zealand’s north island. The cool climate delivers juicy fresh raspberry fruit with an extra degree of complexity. Unoaked, it’s all about the vibrant fruit.
TE RAKAU HAWKE’S BAY BORDEAUX BLEND 2015
Although it’s a New World wine, this Kiwi red is from a fairly cool climate so we have a surprisingly French style here – restrained, classically structured – using the Bordeaux regulars, Cabernet and Merlot. Blackcurrant fruit, very pure and no oak.
ORIGINAL SERIES STELLENBOSCH CABERNET MERLOT 2016
From the historic heart of South African wine this classic Bordeaux blend is full of southern hemisphere ripeness and concentration with intense blackcurrants and dark plums, a hint of mint, all seasoned with spicy oak.
EXQUISITE COLLECTION MALBEC MAGNUM 2017
Glorious concentration of ripe but fresh, crunchy fruit in this Malbec from Argentina’s Uco Valley. Blackberries, plums and a touch of zingy raspberry come together to produce an intensely fruity but seriously structured wine.
DON TOMAS TERROIR SELECTION
A seriously seductive Malbec from San Juan in Argentina. Ripe damsons and lush black cherries with creamy vanilla from oak ageing conspire to produce lots of complexity and a long, velvet finish.
MEADOWHAWK OLD VINES ZINFANDEL 2015
Zinfandel is California’s original red wine grape and some of the vines that supply fruit for this wine are over a century old. The low yields mean fabulous concentration. There’s a touch of roast coffee beans and dark chocolate to this fruit-packed red.
LOT 25 PROSECCO DI VALDOBIADENE 2016
As the neck says, this wine is unique. A limited edition wine, made specially for Aldi solely from the traditional Glera grape, it’s a proper, grown-up Prosecco, surprisingly rich and full with an enchanting floral aroma.
CA’ DI PIETRA PROSECCO DOC MAGNUM NV
So much fun and fizz in one bottle (the equivalent of two standard bottles)! This is a Prosecco frizzante with a lovely light effervescence, a sherbety nose and zingy lemon freshness on the palate.
CREMANT DU JURA
If this wine reminds you of a blanc des blancs from the most famous sparkling wine region, it’s down to the 100% Chardonnay content. Gloriously elegant and crisp, it has a honeyed character with lots of appley acidity and a fresh, dry finish.
PHILLIPPE D’ALBERCOURT CHAMPAGNE BRUT NV
A half bottle of sheer, sophisticated pleasure. Being in a smaller bottle, the wine evolves more rapidly which explains the absolutely classical aroma of toasted brioche. Creamy with impeccable bubbles, this is Champagne at its best.
VEUVE MONSIGNY CHAMPAGNE BRUT NV
Consistently winning awards (and beating some very expensive and famous names in the process) this best-selling Champagne is mainly Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This, with cellar ageing, explains the richness, complexity and classic style which makes the price simply astonishing.
VEUVE MONSIGNY PINK CHAMPAGNE BRUT NV
Vinified in the traditional manner and then turned pink with the addition of the delightfully named local red wine Bouzy rouge. This delivers the fabulous colour but also overlays the brioche scented wine with ripe raspberries and red currants. Crisp and dry even by Champagne standards, it’s robust enough for food while remaining properly elegant.
VEUVE MONSIGNY BLANC DES BLANCS 2006 CHAMPAGNE BRUT
A ten year old blanc des blancs Champagne at this price? You may have to pinch yourself. 100% Chardonnay, deceptively youthful and fresh but with wonderfully complex depth. It’s utterly fabulous now but if you can bear to hang on to it for a few years it will be simply amazing.
CHATEAU DE MYRAT SAUTERNES 2013
An intensely honeyed wine with candied pineapple and a distinct touch of tropical fruit. 30% ageing in oak has added a toasty, vanilla dimension. Lush and luscious it retains perfect balance with its tart backbone. The French love to drink this with foie gras!
BERTON VINEYARDS BOTRYTIS SEMILLON 2016
A stunning award-winning “sticky” wine from New South Wales that makes a perfect partner for Christmas pudding, all sorts of desserts and, strange as it may seem, blue cheese. Honeyed, luscious, with an aroma of candied orange peel and apricot jam with a touch of vanilla. Heavenly.
RECIOTO DI SOAVE DOCG 2014
A rare and wonderful, intensely sweet white wine from Italy’s Veneto region. Where to begin? There are flowers, acacia honey, quinces, candied fruits, vanilla, toasted almonds, fresh citrus, orange blossom… This is essentially nectar in a glass, so intense, so perfectly balanced, pure poetry!
RECIOTO DELLA VALPOLICELL DOCG 2014
The super-ripeness and sheer sweetness of this red dessert wine from north-eastern Italy come from the carefully selected Corvina and Molinara grapes that are semi-dried before fermentation. It’s one of the few wines that smells of roses and its decadent silkiness makes it a really sensual experience.
EXQUISITE COLLECTION CREAM SHERRY
If you’ve tasted big brand sweet sherry and have been underwhelmed, prepare to be amazed. This is the real deal: walnuts, hazelnuts and raisins on the nose and a literally creamy sensation in the mouth with a long, lingering finish. Try it with nuts, blue cheese or Christmas pudding. Far too good for trifle!
EXQUISITE COLLECTION FINO SHERRY
Sherry – but not as most people know it. Pale gold in colour and absolutely bone dry, it’s a breathtakingly refreshing aperitif with olives or toasted almonds. The Spanish drink this with all kinds of seafood and it’s amazingly good with proper fish and chips!
MAYNARD’S LATE BOTTLED VINTAGE PORT 2013
A classic, that perfect winter warmer and the natural partner of Stilton and other blue cheeses. Sweet and concentrated with the kick that comes with 20% alcohol. It has been made in the old-fashioned way, the fruit trodden by foot and the wine bottled without any filtration so there may be a small amount of sediment.
MAYNARD’S LATE BOTTLED PORT 1992
A real rarity and a stunning wine at a remarkably keen price. Unfiltered and having spent many years in wood this port has developed a tawny colour and a nose of candied peel and liquorice. Beautifully concentrated, sweet but with a long finish that is almost dry at the end. It may have a small amount of sediment.
MAYNARD’S 10 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT
Long ageing in wood has given this tawny port a lovely brick colour and a distinctive aroma of dried fruits, candied peel, figs and dark chocolate. There is so much going on in this sweet, rich wine that it needs to be lingered over. Delicious with anything that involves chocolate.
MAYNARD’S 40 YEAR OLD TAWNY PORT
A sensational port of stunning quality with a vastly complex taste that seems to go on forever. Dark amber in colour with a nose that reveals layer upon layer of hazelnuts, figs, candied peel, spice, fruitcake and more. On the palate, it’s pure velvet with just enough acidity. An amazing treat for the senses. (It’s a tenner less than it cost last year, by the way).