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Now for Aldi’s Seasonal Specials

Another look today at wine from premium discounters with the focus on the Aldi seasonal specials that went in store this week – offering some real superstars – along with more Top Tips and the usual Best of the Rest.

Hard on the heels of last week’s promotion at Lidl, October saw the start of a new collection of seasonal specials from the other premium discounter – Aldi.

Here is my selection of its highlights – some lovely wines there folks – along with another Top Tip and, of course, the Best of the Rest from other retailers.

As usual, where an image is available, click on any of the bottles shown for an enlarged picture to help you pinpoint the wine in a crowded display.

Who’d be a Wine Buyer?

Mike James, Aldi’s amiable wine head honcho, sweated blood to get this white exactly how he wanted it – but the effort paid off with another classy reminder of how good Bordeaux sauvignon can be.

Note in particular the pleasing herbal and grassy components of 2016 Forgotten One Entre Deux Mers Sauvignon Blanc (£6.99 and 12% abv) and the way its minty texture delightfully underscores the wine’s bold lime centred acidity.

Good result from a tricky vintage

Because the southern hemisphere harvest starts in February, wines from 2017 are starting to arrive here but the New Zealand vintage was tricky with a cool growing season and rain a problem for anyone picking late.

Lower temperatures reduced yields but energised acidity – as the vibrancy of Marlborough’s 2017 Redwood Hills Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (£8.99 and 13%) illustrates.  As well as freshness the wine’s aromatic gooseberry flavours also encompass a tasty edge of tropical fruit influences.

NZ is not just about sauvignon

New Zealand is, of course, far from being a one-trick pony as we can see from this elegant chardonnay from Hawke’s Bay which – despite the brillaince of its red wines – devotes over 1000 hectares to chardonnay.

Red apples and lemon are the main fruit influences in 2016 Te Rakau Hawke’s Bay Chardonnay (£6.99 and 13%) but these are skilfully integrated with oak derived elements that include baking spice flavours and, of course, smoothness.

… And northern hemisphere chardonnay

Talking of adroitly used oak – but moving back north of the equator – take a look at the way the gifted Jean-Claude Mas has fashioned this smooth and balanced 100% chardonnay from Languedoc.

Barrel time has added appealing spice and butterscotch touches to 2016 Astelia Limoux (£8.99 and 13%) that perfectly complement its mellow pear and white peach fruit.

Moving to reds

Several Exquisite Collection wines form part of these latest releases and they include this classic Rhone blend (GSM) from the ambitiously named Plain of God north east of Orange.

Enjoy, then, the depth and floral aromas of 2015 Exquisite Collection Chateau la Diffre Plan de Dieu (£6.49 and 13.5%) with its firm acidity, limited tannin and chocolate imbued bramble fruit.

Spain also gets in on the act

Across to Spain for this first of two Exquisite Collection reds from that country – starting with a youthful 100% tempranillo from the area many Spaniards place above Rioja in their personal pecking order.

Suggestions of vanilla and cinnamon abound in 2015 Exquisite Collection Ribera del Duero (£6.29 and 13%) but they are given vigour by the wine’s firm acidity and the raspberry and plum fruit that accompanies it.

With Rioja too

The sister red – Rioja of course – has a couple of years’ maturation on the clock while its tempranillo major shareholding is given a helping hand by thimblefuls of graciano and mazuelo (carignan).

Happily the tannin in 2013 Exquisite Collection Rioja Reserva (£7.99 and 13.5%) is very soft and never interferes with the clarity of the wine’s cherry and plum fruit which, in turn, is supercharged by rose based aromatics, bold acidity and hints of vanilla and allspice.

Terrific Chianti

Over in Italy we find – to me – the high spot of this collection of reds in a typical, nicely balanced and (even more importantly) keenly priced chianti.

Floral yet rich and textured, 2013 Barone Bruni Chianti Classico Riserva (£7.99 and 13.5%) has chocolate influenced black cherry fruit that is unhampered by either the overly chewy tannin or the excessive alcohol that can mar some chianti.

Doing things (justifiably) by halves

Finally – and remaining in Italy – we find a half bottle (possibly big enough when you consider its alcohol) from Puglia that is labelled zinfandel, rather than using its more traditional Italian name – primitivo.

Enter then the mellow 2015 Grande Alberone Zinfandel (£3.99 for a half bottle and 15%) with its acidity charged raspberry fruit and restricted tannin but thoroughly enjoyable and engaging mineral depth.

Best of the Rest

PG with bite

Crowd pleasing attributes are a given with much of today’s pinot grigio but few versions complement that with sufficient acidity to keep everything fresh and lively – however, the high ground in Italy’s Trentino region can do that.

Consider, for example, the soft but mildly textured 2016 Taste the Difference Pinot Grigio Trentino (£6 – instead of £7 until 11 October – at Sainsbury’s and 12.5%) with its herbal influenced peach, mango and red apple fruit supported by zippy lemon acidity and hints of coconut and ginger.

Pinot Noir on a Budget

Inexpensive but typical pinot noir is pretty scarce but, if you can overlook its serious lack of texture, this example from Chile’s Aconcague Valley has almost exactly the right flavour range.

Juicy red currant and cranberry fruit lead the way in 2016 Extra Special Pinot Noir (currently £5.28 at Asda and 14%) but that is neatly supplemented by firm acidity, touches of clove, rose centred aromatics and even suggestions of blood orange.

Top Tips

Putting Sparkle into your Life.

An excellent way to calibrate your taste buds and decide which form of wine with bubbles works best for you is to attend one of the Fizz Festivals that are currently springing up.

Take yourself along, sample whatever takes your fancy, possibly even vote on what you like best but, above all, have a fabulous time.

Here are three in the northern part of the UK that I think you will enjoy. Click on any of them for a link to further details.


No new post next week guys but we shall be back around 18 October to talk about the latest Sainsbury’s offer.

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6 Responses

  1. Hi Brian – do enjoy your posts but today was especially good. I bought that Ribera from Aldi about 5 years ago ( it was £5.99 then) and one of the best wines Ive ever tasted. Couldnt get hold of it again …..ever but now they have an online store Ive stocked up again this morning. Thanks for the tip off.

  2. Hi Brian
    I’ve tasted all the Aldi reds you’ve mentioned and they are, for the price, excellent.
    The Limoux is definitely on the shopping list for my next visit.

  3. Hi Brian
    We are normally ardent Kiwi Sauv fans but your French Forgotten One Sauvignon Blanc was an absolute revelation! The most delicious and exciting Sauv I’ve had in a long time and for the money it’s an absolute bargain.
    Keep up the great work.
    A bientôt

  4. Fantastic, Adam, that you enjoyed it so much. I certainly felt that the wine repaid the efforts the Aldi team put into getting it exactly right. Bordeaux sauvignon often gets overlooked but – because producers there sometimes blend in semillon or sauvignon gris, as they have here – there is often an extra notch or two of texture. Tune in again on Wednesday for details of a sauvignon gris that shows what Marlborough can do with the variety. Best ….. and thanks so much for telling us what you think.

  5. Hi Dave and really good to hear for you as ever. That chardonnay is excllent – and was highly praised by Decanter recently. There is a sister red in Aldi at the moment which is a GSM blend that was only just squeezed out from these commendations

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