In the UK and Ireland, cost-conscious shoppers (i.e. most of them nowadays) are increasingly moving from traditional supermarkets to the German budget chains Aldi and Lidl. So is there anything for the wine lover there? A previous post covered the highlights from the Aldi press tasting, now I look at a few of my favourite fizzy and white wines from the Lidl Ireland press tasting:
Champagne Bissinger Premium Cuvée Brut NV (€29.99)
Straight to the main event: this is a long-standing favourite of mine from Lidl and my favourite wine of the whole tasting. The blend is 60% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay so expect lots of strawberry on the nose and on the palate. There’s also plenty of toasty and yeasty complexity, with a pleasing dry finish. I suspect the dosage is quite modest compared to the standard Lidl offerings from Champagne, so less of a crowd-pleaser but better balanced. I’d be happy to drink this anytime!
Crémant d’Alsace Brut NV (€10.49)
A couple of hours drive east from Reims takes you to Alsace, and France’s second most (domestically) consumed sparkling wine. Of course Alsace has much more than that, but its fizz is very approachable and good value. The grapes permitted include most of those allowed in still Alsace – Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Auxerrois Blanc – plus the world’s favourite white grape for fizz, Chardonnay, which is definitely not permitted in still Alsace. In practice Pinot Blanc is often the biggest component.
The minimum for non-vintage is nine months on the lees (c.f. fifteen in Champagne) so fruit is to the fore – and that’s what you get here. Apple is the primary note, but there’s also a lovely honeyed aspect. This is a fairly simple fizz but one that I would quaff in preference to most Prosecco or Cava.
Chablis AOC 2012 (€11.99)
From the most northerly outpost of Burgundy, Chablis is (almost always) a 100% varietal Chardonnay. Especially at the basic AOC/AOP level, it is usually unoaked and steely rather than lush and buttery. In fact, it’s not unknown for people who don’t like “Chardonnay” to love Chablis. Go figure. Now that the wine fashion needle is pointing firmly at “cool climate”, it’s a wonder that Chablis isn’t even more popular.
Vintage is important here, not for the vintage itself but for the age of the wine – Chablis is often released too young, but this has an extra year on many now appearing on the shelf. This has given it a bit of time to settle down and integrate. It shows typical green apple and lemon fruit on the palate with racy acidity to keep it fresh but not austere. Smoked salmon starter over Christmas? This would do nicely!
Mâcon-Villages AOP 2013 (€9.99)
Mâcon is the most southerly district of Burgundy proper, before the soils change to the granite of Beaujolais. The top villages have their own AOCs – think Pouilly-Fuissé, St-Véran, etc. – then the next level down add their name to Mâcon, thus Mâcon-Igé and Mâcon-Uchizy. Another level down again is Mâcon-Villages – still a good wine in the right hands.
Of course this is still Chardonnay, and as we’re quite far south here there’s often a tropical note to the fruit. This example showed lemon and ripe grapefruit with a pleasant round mouthfeel. There’s a touch of oak, I’d suggest a few months in one to three year old barrels, but it doesn’t dominate.
Gavi DOCG 2013 (€7.49)
So lightening does strike twice! After unexpectedly recommending a Gavi from arch rivals Aldi, I’m now doing the same at Lidl! Again it’s not the most complex wine but it’s got plenty of pear and soft stone fruit. Acidity is high but refreshingly so – very drinkable.
Cimarosa Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (€8.49)
2013 was a great year in Marlborough, and it shows in this well-made savvy. This is one to drink now rather than save for next summer, while it’s still got zing. The nose is unmistakably Marlborough – grapefruit and passion-fruit – followed up by a big round mouthful of fruit. Great value for money.
Part two will cover my favourite red wines from the tasting.