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Let’s Go on Another Wine Tour with Lidl

A new Lidl Wine Tour is under way and this post highlights seven of its constituents that I think MidWeekers will enjoy.

The last Thursday of the month means that it is time again for another Lidl Wine Tour.

This time the focus on largely (but not exclusively) on Italy.

That emphasis works quite well for me because it provides another opportunity to repeat my simplified advice about choosing prosecco.

In addition, it also means I can do a “compare and contrast” exercise on three Italian white wine varieties that have only recently come to prominence. 

From the reds, however, I have chosen one from Argentina (no prizes for guessing the grape variety) and one from Australia.

I did not get a chance to try the Barrel Smuggler Cabernet Sauvignon which I have heard good reports about.

If any MidWeekers do get to sample a bottle, please report back on what you think.

Adopting my traditional format, images, where possible, accompany the assessments of the wines but, as this only goes live today, there are no hyperlinks this time.

Starting with reds

2022 Gestos Malbec + Malbec (£8.99 at Lidl while stocks last and 14% abv):

Despite this promotion’s strong Italian accent, the two reds featured here are from the new world.

Argentina’s contribution is something Lidl have featured before which is a blend of malbec from high altitude vines with the same variety grown at lower levels.

The result draws out the freshness mountain life seems to offer with the fullness and richness that can be attained from vineyards with higher average temperatures.

Dark with rustic aromas, it provides us with full bodied blackberry, mulberry and prune flavours.

These are ably supported by clove and mocha richness and acidic freshness – but with surprisingly subdued tannin.

And my top pick among the reds.

2023 McBains Crossing Pinot Noir (£6.99 at Lidl while stocks last and 12.5%):

While much of South Australia can be decidedly hot, things are cooler with higher average rainfall as you get further south into areas like the Limestone Coast.

Given that conditions there can be closer to those in prime pinot noir country like Mornington Peninsular, we should not be surprised by sound Limestone Coast pinots. 

This example builds on a “nose” brim-full of soft fruit influences to provide delightful raspberry, red plum and pomegranate flavours on the palate.

Accompanying components include firm acidity (but limited tannin) and suggestions of vanilla, violets and milk chocolate. 

The importance of that single letter – again.

2022 Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore (£7.49 at Lidl and 11%):

I have often argued that the clue to sound prosecco (in an often mundane market place) lies in three and a half words and a single letter.

The letter is “G” and it relates to areas awarded DOCG status rather than the lower level DOC.

Garantita is the highest classification in Italy and, for prosecco, is reserved for those (largely hillier) areas that are generally considered to produce superior versions.

The three words relate to DOCG areas – Asolo, Conegliano and Valdobbiadene – while the half refers to Treviso which is a DOC area but often produces great prosecco.

Using these criteria should tip the probabilities towards getting better wine.

This Valdobbiadene option offers a neat contrast between the unhurried nature of its (encouragingly small) bubbles and the energetic mouth-feel that they lead into.

Its flavour range encompasses soft red apple and melon flavours that tie in with its orchard fruit aromas – but there is also a pleasing balance between vague savouriness and concluding sweetness.

Now moving onto still whites

2022 Assyrtiko (£7.99 at Lidl while stocks last and 12.5%):

Anyone who (like me) is unfamiliar with the Greek language will be bemused by the label here, but this is assyrtiko – that widely praised Greek variety I featured a week or two back.

It opens with trademark chalky mineral elements and then develops apple, lime and greengage flavours.

The wine reveals more delights with its refined texture supercharged by lively grapefruit acidity.

It is an ideal start point for anyone unfamiliar with this rapidly rising star among grape varieties.

A trio of Italian whites.

Each grape variety brings unique qualities to its wines influenced by their specific terroirs and regional winemaking traditions.

This Wine Tour nicely illustrates the differences between three different – and possibly unfamiliar – names currently making waves in the (once very stable) world of Italian white wines.

First comes the crispness and acidity provided by Tuscany’s Vernaccia di San Gimignano which is made from the vernaccia grape and often also has a slate centred background.

Next, from the heel of Italy, comes the aromatic but creamily textured Fiano Salento which demonstrates how fiano offers enhanced texture rather than the crispness of the previous wine.

Finally, probably to the best the three, with the fuller and richer greco grape – showing why DOCG status was bestowed on Greco di Tufo Campania – with its mineral (some say volcanic) components. 

In short:

  • Crisp and herbal, 2022 Vernaccia di San Gimignano (£8.99 at Lidl and 12.5%) exhibits smooth pink grapefruit and apricot flavours enlivened by citrus acidity and a smooth finish containing a savoury edge.
  • Aromatic with a lingering finish, 2022 Fiano Salento (£8.99 at Lidl and also 12.5%) brings us rich peach, quince and pear flavours supplemented by a smooth, creamy texture, lemon acidity and a neat savoury twist.
  • Soft and smooth, 2022 Greco di Tufo Campania (£9.99 at Lidl and 13%) features distinctive green apple and melon flavours combined with controlled grapefruit acidity and hints of oregano, lemon curd and peach in the background.
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14 Responses

  1. I do like the new wobble on the MidWeek Wine title.
    Good to see Puglian wines having a moment,especially the Fiano you mentioned.Having recently seen miles of ghostly white dead olive trees in the area,their economy needs a bit of a boost.The good news is that a treatment is now available.
    I have learnt quite a bit of Greek by ear,but the writing remains a complete mystery.However on my first visit to Greece I asked the till girl in the mini market how to say” That meal and wine was great.”
    In the fourth taverna out of seven nearby, I tried my only Greek sentence.The waiter said do you know what you have just said?”That you have a pain in your left foot”.
    Beware of Greeks bearing gifts!

    1. Glad the wobble works and equally glad to showcase Puglian wine. The region has so much to offer. A brave effort with the Greek till operator, she could have ensured you were arrested!

  2. Hi Brian, love the new layout and format – very easy on the eye.
    And I am already salivating at the choice of Italian whites covered. I often feel Italian whites don’t get the airtime they deserve. There is so much scope and range to their grapes, but sad it get drowned out by pinot grigio and gavi (not critical of either but there is so much more). But then again…. if you know, you know.
    I’m waiting for the world to discover Umbrian Greccheto. In the meantime I’ll try and hunt down some vernaccia from your list – there are lots of variations from this one grape (and almost all being very enjoyable in my opinion).
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks for those kind words about the site Brian – very grateful. As you say, numerous impressive but little-known white wine grapes in Italy and it is good that many are now being revived. Oz Clarke suggests “vernaccia” is from the same root as the word “vernacular” suggesting that it is merely means a local grape, which is why there are so many of them – mostly unrelated to one another.

  3. Brian … friends …

    First off may I say how much I appreciate the tweak to this MWW website Brian. Nice feel to it and so professional looking.

    Just back in from a Lidl shop. Managed to get from their new ”Italian” Wine Tour the Greek Assyrtiko, the Rosso di Montefalco and your other recommendation of the McBains Crossing Point Pinot Noir. At my age you might have thought I’d have tried an Oz PN before now, but this is a first!!

    Typically at my usual store, quite large but probably not a ”flagship” model, not everything is always available in the wooden crates as per their various advertising outlets. But today a better shopping experience.

    Yesterday I took delivery of a small order from TWS.

    Leading the charge is a half bottle of the Societies Generation Series Portuguese Bucelas 2022, that while £7.25 it will satisfy my inquisitiveness with a white getting a lot of aye-oop. Should we believe all the hype on this one because normally I would not spend the equivalent of £14 a bottle. We shall not know unless we check it ourselves. Importantly if we are totally disappointed TWS are very good at refunding against complaint!

    Very much fancied the Societies half bottle Greek White 2023 at £5.75 that is a Moschofilero-Roditis blend, and in saying that I’m none the wiser. I doubt many ordinary punters will be! Never mind, to me in this case it hardly matters what it is, set against whether it’s a nice drop to drink.

    I can report and say it IS lovely. I can’t easily compare it closely to anything I already know, it just sits there as classy as we like. Very enjoyable, fresh, not over-fruity, citrus of course, slightly aromatic well-made wine that we could describe as faultless without setting the world alight. At the money it’s a steal and if I was to dare chancing a mention, possibly a perfect Chablis substitute. It’s that end of things.

    If either or both of the Lidl Assyrtiko or TWS Portuguese Bucelas vintages are as good then I know what I’ll be spending my money on this summer. As for the Vernaccia di San Gimignano getting a mention my only negative is the price Lidl want for it.

    But then again a few pounds here and there maybe matters less to those of us affording wine on a regular basis and if Lidl have it when the less pricey Sainsbury’s bottle isn’t always on the shelf, buy it where we can, yeah!!!

    1. Pleased to hear the site works for you and, as ever, interested to hear your take on things. In particular I hope that the Aussie pinot measures up as I know you are not always a great fan of new world wines. Some good tips about The Wine Society offerings in there too.

      1. Ha! To be fair to myself Brian it’s only really been generic, alcoholic-Ribena Oz reds I couldn’t go with but it sounds like Richard Wyndham had a similar experience back in the day too. And cloying, poor, Oz chardy, necked-back by disruptive hen parties in pubs and wine bars in the 80s and 90s and … I will say no more!

        The McBains Crossing Pinot Noir was very decent and all gone last evening; did enjoy it. In respect of my usual hobby-horse not a Burgundy substitute, but then it isn’t suggesting or trying to be. As a stand alone wine it’s well made, characterful though not particularly elegant nor translucent and delicate like Burgundy PNs. More body and heft but for the money excellent value for a very drinkable drop.

        As for this Lidl Assyrtiko it’s a belter. I love this grape. It starts with a Sauvignon Blanc citrus kick and settles at the back of the mouth as a softer Chardonnay. It is elegant and there is heady but light perfume. I can’t say better than that and I’m trying as many variables from TWS, Asda, as I can easily find.

        Don’t know Greece well at all so no evocations happening. The few days I was through there in transit back in ’71, Thesaloniki, was too long ago to remember what I was specifically drinking there then.

        1. Glad that pinot noir made the grade for you and, as you say, it is quite different to Burgundian options – and happy to be so. Equally, Assyrtiko is very much a rising star and good that both premium discounters now stock examples.

  4. Evening Brian, like most I compliment you on the new web layout. Glass raised to you for this.
    Just back and bought a few from above. Have always enjoyed the Malbec when it’s in as always a solid performer. I’ll maybe do a tasting with friends on the theee Italian whites as a comparison like you seem to have done. Also picked up a vino nobile di montepulciano. Very tasty with some good depth and complex flavours. Will be back for some more of that. Well worth the £9 for me.
    Seems the Greeks have a way with getting to us Brits, as like Paul, I got done few years ago when I delivered a line to our waiter and he replied “why don’t want to date my mother when you have such a beautiful wife”.

    1. Thanks Chris. It sounds as though your Greek language “tutor” was a bit more malevolent that Paul’s till operator.

  5. Hi Brian,
    The 2022 Greco di Tufo Campania is currently on offer – you get £1 off if you use your Lidl Plus card at the till. No need to activate anything.
    I do find it heart warming where local grape varieties are revived – facilitated by better wine making practices, the modern marketing requirement to focus on quality not volume, and in some cases global warming opportunities. Your side by side comparison of the trio of Italian whites was most helpful in getting to grips with these new stars.
    With regard to Australia, it was not that many years ago that I mostly avoided their wines. Over-oaked whites and fruit bomb powerful reds. As always there were always great wines produced, but were not easy to find, and why have the hassle trying? But nowadays I feel that producers in practically every country and wine area can produce really great wines in styles not “typical”. I have recently much enjoyed lovely Australian wines in the usual and less usual grape varieties. It must be increasingly difficult to place a country of origin in blind tastings!

    I have drunk previous vintages of a couple of your featured wines, and here is an interesting price comparison …
    2022 Greco di Tufo Campania – £9.99 (£8.99 on offer);
    2019 Greco di Tufo Campania – £6.99 (bought in May 2021).
    2023 McBains Crossing Pinot Noir – £6.99;
    2019 McBains Crossing Pinot Noir – £7.49 (bought in October 2021).
    So I guess this indicates the increasing acceptance and popularity of Italian whites, and the current depressed status of the Australian wine industry?
    MidWeeker regulars can reminisce with me, as I also bought 2 more bottles of the 2019 McBains @ £3.99 in the remnant bin. Those were the days when the release of the new Lidl Wine Tour, coincided with the off loading of “left overs”, at silly prices, from the previous Wine Tour! My typically short consumption note was “Not jammy, decent PN style, great value”.

    1. Those price comparisons are particularly revealing, Richard, and it is good to see that things have moved on with Aussie wines since the times you and Eddie mention.

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