ALDI WINE FESTIVAL, FROM 21 AUGUST
I have to say it was a pleasure to work with Aldi on this selection of wines which was shown to the press on 10 August in preparation for when they go on sale on 21 August. The level of quality and the value for money is highly impressive; indeed, my only concern is that too many people, disappointed by inexpensive wine in the past, will look at, say, the Wachau Gruner Veltliner at €8.99 and think “that can’t be any good at the price”.
Believe me, they would be utterly wrong. It’s one of my favourites in the selection and, like the rest of my personal choice from this wine sale, is marked Favourite.
These are special buys so when they sell out they are gone for good. On the other hand, the Aldi core selection which includes the exceptional Exquisite Collection wines, are in store all the time (with just a few seasonal variations).
Anyway, here are my tasting notes from the press tasting so you have a chance to digest them in good time for Sunday, 21 August.
TOKAJI FURMINT DRY WHITE WINE 2015
Origin: Hungary, Tokaji Grapes: Furmint
Tokaji is the part of Hungary where this lovely, fresh white wine is made and Furmint is the grape, not one you see every day. Lovely floral aromas and the perfume of really ripe white peaches followed by a touch of smoke and lime on the palate. Great with smoked salmon. (Tokaji is pronounced toe-kie incidentally!)
Smoked salmon, crab.
MIRELLA VERDICCHIO DEI CASTELLI DI JESI CLASSICO 2015
Origin: Italy, Marche Grapes: Verdicchio min 85%
A zestily refreshing and very dry white wine from the Verdicchio grape (described by some as “the thinking person’s Pinot Grigio”). Typical high acidity with lemon zest character and a touch of nuttiness on the finish. What seems simple and refreshingly upfront at first turns out to have some complexity.
Tuna salad, shrimp cocktail, crab.
DAO BRANCO ENCOSTA DA VINHA 2014
Origin: Portugal, Cento Grapes: Encruzado, Bical
From the sustainable and eco-friendly vineyards of Nuna da Canceta Abreu comes this zingy, fresh white wine with a hint of green in the colour. The chaffinch on the label refers to the producer’s efforts to ecnourage bird life in the vineyards in order to keep down pests.
Grilled salmon, baked haddock.
Favourite: RIED SEIBER WACHAU GRUNER VELTLINER RESERVE 2015
Origin: Austria, Wachau Grapes: Gruner Veltliner
A single vineyard Gruner Veltliner from the heart of Austria’s top wine region for this price! Yes, you have to pinch yourself. It’s bone dry, fresh as a daisy, crisp as ice with a whiff of fresh white pepper, a touch of smoke, citrus fruit and a really clean, refreshing, mineral kind of finish. Brilliant with crab.
Oysters, mussels, oily fish.
Favourite: EDITION FRITZ KELLER BADEN RIESLING 2015
Origin: Germany, Baden Grapes: Riesling
Baden is one of Germany’s greatest and warmest wine regions and this Riesling is maybe not what you’re expecting because it’s dry. It tastes of crisp, green apple with some fresh citrus zestiness and the finish is refreshingly dry with a kind of mineral twang at the end. It simply adores being paired with fish straight off the pan. Made by Michelin-starred restaurateur, Fritz Keller.
Olives, Thai green curry, smoked salmon, prawns.
PUNTA DE LOBOS SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015
Origin: Chile, Casablanca Grape: Sauvignon Blanc
Very fresh and pungent with passionfruit, pineapple and lots of tropical aromas, very crisp and zesty, finishing clean and dry.
Goat’s cheese, Thai curry, grilled chicken.
TIERRA DEL SOL WINEMAKER’S SELECTION SAUVIGNON BLANC 2015
Origin: Chile, Casablanca Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc
Classic Chilean Sauvignon from the cool climate, high altitude Casablanca Valley. It’s as fresh as the morning dew and deliciously pungent with scents of green peppers, gooseberry, even crushed nettles! Zesty and crisp with lots going on!
Goat’s cheese, pizza bianca, creamy pasta dishes.
Favourite: LEAF PLUCKER SAUVIGNON BLANC 2016
Origin: South Africa, Coastal Grape: Sauvignon Blanc
This fabulously zesty, pungent Sauvignon Blanc might remind you of a Pouilly-Fumé from the Loire but it’s from South Africa’s coolish climate Coastal Region. It smells of chopped green peppers, crushed gooseberries and a kind of green leafiness. A natural with fresh goat’s cheese.
Grilled goat’s cheese, oysters, asparagus.
LA BAUME VIN DE PAYS d’OC VIOGNIER 2015
Origin: France, Languedoc-Rousillon Grapes: Viognier
Luscious and peachy, this is a white wine with something of a difference. It has weight in the mouth and a spicy yet very clean finish. It works exceptionally well with Oriental dishes, especially Thai flavours.
Seafood curry with coconut, prawns with ginger and lime.
Favourite: CALLIA ALTA TORRONTES 2015
Origin: Argentina, San Juan Grape: Torrontes
An unusual grape that’s pretty well unique to Argentina, Torrontes is all about fragrance and spice. This one has lots of ginger on the nose but on the palate it’s more about rose petals. It may sound a bit sweet but, in fact, it’s perfectly dry and refreshingly unusual. Grown in the semi-desert, high altitude San Juan region. Great with spicy, creamy dishes.
Coconut based curries, olives with chilli, spicy chicken wings.
ASHWOOD ESTATE GISBORNE PINOT GRIS 2014
Origin: New Zealand, Gisborne Grape: Pinot Gris
A North island Kiwi white that owes more to the Pinot Gris of Alsace than to Italy’s Pinot Grigio. More medium than dry, it has luscious, honeyed fruit and a tang of grapefruit and greengage. This is a limited edition wine: only 9500 bottles of it were made, so this is a piece of history. Try it with a Thai green curry.
Thai green curry, lamb korma, crab with sweet chilli sauce.
Favourite: EDITION FRITZ KELLER BADEN PINOT NOIR 2014
Origin: Germany, Baden Grapes: Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder)
Don’t be deceived by the light colour, which is an intense pink, this is a proper red wine from Germany’s warm climate Baden region. Smoky, spicy and warm on the nose it has seductive cherry, strawberry and even red currant fruit. With a long, spicy finish it knocks spots of many a Pinot Noir from Burgundy at four or five times the price! Impeccable with pink lamb.
Lamb, rare beef, roast chicken.
Favourite: CIRCUIT DU RHONE COTES DU RHONE VILLAGES CAIRANNE 2014
Origin: France, Southern Rhone Grapes: Grenache Noir, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre.
Much closer in style to Chateauneuf than to straight Cotes du Rhone but nevertheless it’s seductively approachable with a nose of spice, prune, red fruits and even a touch of licquorice. Ripe but proper tannins and very decent length. From old vines on argilo-calcaire terroir. Partly aged in oak and produced by Boutinot.
Steak, rare roast beef, mushrooms.
JAN & JOHAN PAARL OLD VINE CINSAULT 2015
Origin: South Africa, Paarl Grape: Cinsault
You can see why Cinsault is used in places like Minervois to add perfume and delicacy; this 100% version is seductively fragrant, light-bodied and deliciously easy to drink.
Salami, pork chops, serious sausages.
Favourite: DE BORTOLI GS PINOT NOIR 2015
Origin: Austalia, Victoria Grape: Pinot Noir
This impressive Austalian Pinot Noir comes from the Yarra Valley, north of Melbourne which has developed an impressive reputation with this classic grape. Supple and subtle with ripe cherries and rounded tannins.
Pink lamb, venison.
Favourite: NIKAU POINT ESTATE HAWKES BAY SYRAH RESERVE 2014
Origin: New Zealand, Hawkes Bay Grape: Syrah/Shiraz
Although the label says Syrah rather than Shiraz this New Zealand red is much more New World than Old with oodles of cherry and ripe plum fruit, dark chocolate and smoke. It’s silky, soft and round but with proper structure, very easy to drink. It makes a rare steak even more delicious! From the east coast of the North island.
Roast chicken with garlic and herbs.
PUNTA DA LOBOS MALBEC
Origin: Chile, Cochagua Grapes: Malbec
Deep in colour, cherries, plums, spice. Unusual in being a Malbec from Chile.
Rare steak, meaty pasta dishes.
NONIUS ESTATE FETEASCA NEAGRA/SHIRAZ
Origin: Romania Grapes: Feteasca, Shiraz
Made with an endemic Romanian grape variety, aided and abetted by the more familiar Shiraz, this is a soft, round, concentrated red with gentle tannins and oodles of fruit.
ROODEBERG RESERVE 2014
Origin: South Africa, Coastal Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Shiraz, Tannat
Exceptionally ripe red grapes have gone into this lush red wine from South Africa’s Western Cape. It’s packed with strawberry and raspberry fruit with a touch of crushed herbs and cedarwood, tobacco, even a whiff of mint or eucalyptus which is unusual for this part of the world. Big and friendly, it’s a wine for the family roast.
Roast meats, from beef to chicken.
Favourite: AMIGO SECRETO VALLE DE RAPEL SYRAH-CARIGNAN
Origin: Chile, Rapel Grapes: Syrah, Carignan
From one of South America’s organic and biodynamic pioneers in wine this dense red is from low-yield fruit. Spice, dark chocolate, Morello cherry on the nose, lush on the palate, long finish.
Favourite: GLORIA DOURO RESERVA 2014
Origin: Portugal, Alto Douro Grapes: Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca
A Decanter magazine award winner and Silver medallist at the International Wine Challenge 2016, this big, brawny but stylish Portuguese red is made from Tinta Roriz (which we know as Spain’s Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca. Oak aged and seriously structured it’s complex, long and delicious.
Meaty Autumn stews.
Favourite: TIERRA DEL SOL WINEMAKER’S SELECTION CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013
Origin: Chile, Colchagua Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Exactly what we want from a Chilean Cabernet: oodles of ripe, intense fruit with a powerful aroma of blackcurrants seasoned with plenty of creamy smoky vanila. The kind of wine that wants steak and means to get it!
Grilled red meats.
PALMENTO NERO D’AVOLA SICILIANA 2015
Origin: Italy, Sicily Grapes: Nero d’Avola
An impressively dark, full-bodied red with a Black Forest gateau of black cherries on the nose, licquorice, prune and mulberry on the palate. Big and round but good acidity and underpinned by grippy tannins.
Robust pizza, spicy pasta dishes.
MAYORAL JUMILLA RESERVA
Origin: Spain, Murcia Grapes: Monastrell, Tempranillo
Jumilla is one of Spain’s hottest and sunniest regions and this super-ripe red wine is packed with fruit. Mainly Monastrell (or Mourvedre as it’s called in France) with some Tempranillo, it has lots of vanilla-scented oak plus, on top of the red fruits, licquorice and even a suggestion of ground coffee. A sound match for roast beef, even with horseradish!
MEADOWBANK CELLARS LODI ZINFANDEL 2014
Origin: California, Central Valley Grape: Zinfandel
With fruit selected from fourteen vineyards throughout Lodi, the Zinfandel capital of the world, this is a big, brawny yet very approachable wine with oodles of dark fruit and lots of oak.
Mature cheddar, t-bone steak.