PETER’S CURRENT TOP 6
LAST TASTING – 6th MARCH 2019
EXQUISITE COLLECTION CREMANT DU JURA, 2016, £8.29
Still one of the best-value Cremants in a UK supermarket. Whether it’s hen parties or mid-summer barbecues, this is a real crowd-pleaser. Cremants are sparkling wines that are made using the traditional method – with the bubble-adding second fermentation being conducted inside the bottle, as opposed to a big Prosecco tank – but outside the Champagne region. Cheaper land outside Champagne means it’s a great category in which to hunt for value.
Green apple, red apple and lemon aromas on the nose are replicated on the palate, with some sweeter lemon sherbet flavours thrown into the mix for good measure. The acidity is fresh, but it’s well-balanced by the concentrated fruit flavours.
Canapé heaven – I paired this with a prawn, smoked bacon and cream cheese pâté at a recent Institute of Wines & Spirits Scotland tasting and it went down a treat.
EXQUISITE COLLECTION LYME BLOCK ENGLISH WINE, 2018, £9.99
You may think that £9.99 looks expensive for a wine from Aldi, but it’s incredibly good value for a still white wine made in England. Lyme Bay in Devon is a decent producer too, so this is no bargain-basement blend, despite the label proclaiming that it’s made from 48% Bacchus, 26% Pinot Blanc, 9% Solaris and 17% “other varieties”.
There’s no need to dismiss it as being whatever grapes were leftover at the end of the harvest though – the nose is bright with lemon and apricot, with tarter lemon juice, grapefruit and green apple flavours marching to the fore on the palate. It’s very fresh, but the fruit from 2018’s warm summer is ripe enough to balance that crisp acidity.
Keep it local and opt for some Devon crab or raise the bar and treat yourself to some Loch Fyne oysters instead.
PIANETA ORGANICO PINOT GRIGIO, 2018, £5.99
Proving that you don’t have to pay through the nose for organic wine. Plus, it’s good quality too. We all know Pinot Grigio as the watery white favoured by wine bar warriors and soulless “casual dining” restaurant chains. Yet not all Pinot Grigio is born equal and this core part of Aldi’s range demonstrates why.
Classic lemon and green apple aromas on the nose carry through onto the palate, where the intensity of flavour that you only get from organic grapes provides the counterbalance to the fresh acidity. This is a big step-up from other supermarket Pinot Grigio – but it still won’t break the bank.
Great on its own, but also a favourite for me with a chicken caesar salad thanks to its fresh acidity.
EXQUISITE COLLECTION MARSANE, 2018, £5.99
Once relegated to blending grape status, this shows why Marsanne doesn’t have to be boring. Found primarily in the Rhone Valley where it’s blended with Roussanne, this white grape is also grown in other places along the South Coast of France, including in the Languedoc. Best-known for its use in the white versions of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Côtes du Rhone, Marsanne can also make a great single varietal wine in the right hands.
Peach, apricot and red apple on the nose all carry through to the palate, where they’re joined by more savoury lemon rind. The acidity is crisp and fresh – like biting into a Granny Smith apple – but is finely balanced by the concentrated fruit flavours.
Marsanne always equals roast chicken for me, but this would make good fishy fodder too.
RIVERAS SAUVIGNON BLANC, 2018, £9.99
New Zealand isn’t the only game in town when it comes to New World Sauvignon Blanc. I always find Chile’s examples more savoury than those from Marlborough – perhaps more akin to the Loire Valley. This bottle hails from the Leyda Valley, as does Aldi’s own-label Exquisite Collection example.
Apricot mingles with lemon and more savoury lemon rind on the nose and on the tongue, but it’s the acidity that’s really the star of the show; well-integrated and well-balanced, it’s fresher than the Exquisite Collection example, making the wine more elegant and more restrained – and worth the extra £4.50.
Chicken and tarragon are fine bedfellows, whether they’re in a casserole or a cream sauce on the hob, and this wine was born to accompany them on their culinary journey.
ANTIGUO BARREL-AGED SPANISH RED WINE, 2014, £5.89
Both Aldi and Lidl have mined Spain for some great-value red wines over the years, focussing on areas like Castilla, away from the glitz and glamour of Rioja. Yet to dismiss this bottle as a cheap Rioja impersonator would be doing it a disservice.
The nose is full of heavy wood smoke and scents of those burnt barbecue beef ends that lurk on supermarket delicatessen counters and always seem destined for the reduced-to-clear chiller aisle. It’s much fresher on the palate though, with blackberry, blackcurrant and liquorice, plus some spun sugar notes from its 18 months in oak.
Play to the wine’s strengths – if it smells of barbecued meat then chances are it’s going to go down a treat with some char-grilled burgers or sausages.