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What’s New for Summer in Aldi

See what glitters among the new wine arrivals (from assyrtiko to viognier) in Aldi but including – unusually for us – a very pleasant gin.

Although they are not as frequent as Lidl’s two monthly Wine Tours, Aldi does apply regular seasonal refreshes to its wine list.

Aldi claims that the latest one – its summer range that went into stores and online recently – contains nearly 50 new wines.

One aim behind the selections is to encourage shoppers to widen their horizons by venturing away from the top grape varieties that, together, seem to account for over 60% of the world’s wines.

Supporting this strategy, the retailer’s resident “Mistress of Wine”, Sam Caporn MW, suggests that people have become more adventurous over recent years and are not just sticking to wines they know.

She says “That’s really exciting because there are some fantastic less well-known varietals and regions across the world!”

One example of this approach is the inclusion on the new list of English Valley White Wine (£8.49) which is made exclusively from the bacchus grape and provided to Aldi by the acclaimed Chapel Down operation.

Here are a few others that I have tasted and think you will enjoy.

Starting in Australia

Although viognier was originally mainly confined to a small corner of the Northern Rhone, hugely increased demand last century led to its introduction in other places such as Languedoc, Italy, California, Chile and, in this case, Australia.

Soft and typically aromatic, 2019 Australian Viognier (£6.99 and 13.5% abv) has peach and mango flavours, lively tangerine acidity, caramel influenced viscosity and a long finish that contains hints of liquorice.   

Now this really is unusual

Partly because of its terrain, Greece is not a big producer of wine – and much of its exports go to Germany – but it has really hit the jackpot with wine from the assyrtiko grape which Steve Daniel of Hallgarten & Novum – who does so much to promote Greek wine – calls “chablis on steroids”.

Textured but with sharp grapefruit acidity 2019 Greek Assyrtiko (£9.99 and 13%) brings us smooth, rich apple and quince flavours with a savoury (vaguely saline) backdrop that leads into a pithy lime finish.

Next let’s try a red

As a sister for that viognier, the grape variety for our first red – grenache – has also migrated to Australia from Southern France (although it is probably Spanish in origin) and is now recognised as a potential Aussie star after a period of under-recognition there.  

Soft and juicy, 2019 Specially Selected Kooliburra Australian Grenache (£6.99 and 14.5%) has minty plum and loganberry flavours with firm tannin, good orange peel acidity, underpinning suggestions of clove but quite noticeable alcoholic heat.

Speaking of Spanish origins

Although widely known as mourvedre (or even mataro in Australia), monastrell originated near Valencia and Spanish winemakers are increasingly using it on its own (as here) rather than in a blend as often happens elsewhere.

You can see why, from the dense, aromatic yet mineral based (but great value) 2018 Baron Amarillo Monastrell (£5.99 and 13.5%) which will delight you with mulberry and blackberry flavours, good acidity, firm (but proportionate) tannin, touches of sage, mocha, black pepper and just a tinge of sweetness.

Staying in Europe

While pinot noir is undoubtedly one of those top grape varieties, the Loire Valley is not the obvious place to look for it – yet tasty versions aplenty emanate from there albeit usually in the form of light, red wines that are best drunk young.

2018 Jean Gadoin Sancerre Rouge (£11.99 but available online only and 13%) does indeed have gentle raspberry and red cherry flavours with mild acidity and tannin, a long milk chocolate finish but incorporates pinot’s earthy beetroot elements too.

Fizz with a difference

Here’s a neat piece of innovation that might slow down the migration from cava (especially towards prosecco) as not only is this sparkling wine designed to have ice cubes added but it actually changes flavours when you introduce them.

Sample Jaume Serra Ice Cava (£6.99 and 11.5%) at domestic fridge temperatures and it delivers relatively sweet strawberry ripple and cream soda flavours but see what happens when you add those ice cubes and wait a minute or two.

That rapid temperature reduction tones down the the wine’s initial sweetness and effervescence and replaces them with zesty orange and grapefruit elements that also give it an attractive, clean, minty mouth feel.

And to lift your spirits

This month also saw thirteen newcomers added to the Aldi spirits range for summer; they include two flavoured vodkas (raspberry and vanilla), two rums, a bitter orange gin liqueur and several gins.

I sampled one, benchmarking it against Aldi’s award-winning Oliver Cromwell gin (now renamed Greyson’s), and considered the Lord Protector outpointed by this summer arrival.

While the Oliver Cromwell is a nice, balanced, slightly minty and quite dense gin, Haysmith’s London Dry Gin (£14.99 at Aldi and 37.5%) is rounder, slightly sweeter and embellished with a lime pithiness and smoothness that still come through clearly even when tonic is added.

Tune in again on Monday folks for the latest of my Top Tips and news on current supermarket promotions

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