Catch ’em while you can! Below are six reds I enjoyed from the Lidl Ireland French wine event, covering Bordeaux, South West France, Beaujolais and the Rhône:
Le Clan 100% IGP Périgord 2016 (12.5%, €7.99 at Lidl Ireland)
Périgord is not a familiar name for many people, especially in relation to wine; it’s the name of an old French region with a strong gastronomic reputation, roughly similar to today’s Dordogne département. Before the départements were created and Bordeaux wine was demarcated within the Gironde’s borders, wines made in what is now the Dordogne were made in a similar way to Bordeaux (as now) but actually marketed as Bordeaux. Thus seeing the Bordelais grapes Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon on the front label is not a surprise.
On the nose Le Clan 100% shows ripe plums and dark chocolate. The palate is mainly black fruit, but it’s the style which is most noticeable – it’s an easy-drinking wine with low tannins that’s just perfect for quaffing with friends – “totes smashable” as the kids would say!
Collin-Bourisset Saint-Amour 2018 (13.5%, €12.99 at Lidl Ireland)
Beaujolais is on the up at the moment, especially among hip younger drinkers. While some bottles are getting (justifiably) pricey, there are still plenty of modestly priced examples around.
The Collin-Bourisset Brouilly is also included in this French wine event and, while that’s a reasonable wine – especially with food – this Saint-Amour is significantly better in my opinion. Blueberries and loganberries pop on the nose. The fruit extravaganza continues on the palate, with a soft and gentle mouthfeel. Acidity is good, making this an easy drinking wine that doesn’t pall when sipping on its own, but would be a super match for a plate of charcuterie.
Vacqueras “Les Gabets” 2018 (14.5%, €14.99 at Lidl Ireland)
As with many of the wines included in this event, all three red Rhône wines are from the 2018 vintage. This is the most serious of the three, the most expensive by a fiver and – in my opinion – easily the best. With more structure its youth is more evident than on its Séguret and Vinsobres counterparts, so I’d be happy to keep it for at least a year or two before cracking it open. Cherry and raspberry are the key notes from this wine, with just a touch of earthiness.
Côtes de Bourg 2018 (13.0%, €7.99 at Lidl Ireland)
Côtes de Bourg is one of my favourite Bordeaux appellations; it’s not that well known but can produce really good wines at very reasonable prices. Merlot is usually the main grape, supported by small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. I don’t have the detailed blend of this particular wine but it exudes a “drink me!” sensibility so I reckon there’s over 75% Merlot (sorry Jim!) It’s full of juicy plum fruit and the tannins are very gentle so it’s a great quaffer. Perfect everyday Claret!
Château Blagnac Haut Médoc 2016 (13.5%, €11.99 at Lidl Ireland)
Château Blagnac is the junior label of Antoine Moueix’s Château Hanteillan, just west of Pauillac and Saint-Éstephe in the Haut-Médoc. Blaignac’s vines are 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon with an average age of 15 years, so fairly young. Having a majority of Merlot is pretty unusual in the Haut-Médoc, but as the Mouiex family own Pétrus I’d say they know what they are doing!
The blend is evident in the ripe fruitiness of the wine, quite different from many of the austere Cabernet-dominant wines of the area. There are Cabernet traits though, such as pencil shavings on the nose and ripe (but not over-ripe) cassis on the palate. The acidity and tannins are good but not overbearing – this is a proper, classy Bordeaux.
Château Haut-Lavignière Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2015 (14.0%, €16.99 at Lidl Ireland)
Château Haut-Lavignière extends across 12 hectares of sandy, silty soils in Saint-Émilion. Merlot is the undisputed king here with 95% of the blend and just a dash of Cab Franc. This recipe and a warm year such as 2015 makes for a big, ripe, spectacular wine. It’s all about black fruit, with a touch of dark chocolate. There are tannins but they are fine and ripe. To me it tastes even higher than the stated 14.0%, so it’s not for the faint hearted!
If you haven’t already seen it then check out my post on the French Whites also included in the event.