Make Mine A Double

Wine Review: Aldi Specially Selected Limoux Chardonnay and Bekaa Valley Red

I might well be late to this party, but if there are either of these wines still available from Aldi’s Specially Selected range then you should definitely pop them in your trolley.

Aldi Specially Selected Limoux Chardonnay 2020

Specially Selected Limoux Chardonnay

Limoux is in the Languedoc and is most widely known for its sparkling wine production: Blanquette de Limoux, Blanquette méthode ancestrale and Crémant de Limoux. Blanquette is the local name for the Mauzac grape which stars in the first two sparklers and can feature in the Crémant. It also plays a part in the still white wine known simply as Limoux, though Chardonnay and / or Chenin Blanc are also used.

This wine is 100% Chardonnay and is made by Jean-Claude Mas. It pours as a light gold which hints at the taste profile to come. The nose is a combination of bright pineapple and cream. The palate is intensely creamy with succulent yet restrained tropical (pineapple, mango) and stone fruit (peach, apricot). This is an enticing but not overly indulgent wine with a crisp, very long finish.

I loved this wine and it shows how good French Chardonnay can be outside Burgundy.

  • ABV: 13.5%
  • RRP: €9.99
  • Source: sample*
  • Stockists: Aldi stores and aldi.ie

Aldi Specially Selected Bekaa Valley Lebanese Red 2019

Specially Selected Bekaa Valley Lebanese Red

This bottle stood out to me as being very unusual for a discount supermarket as it’s from Lebanon. Yes, Lebanon has a long and noble history of winemaking, but it rarely impinges on the consciousness of the supermarket shopper. Wine connoisseurs know of the great Chateau** Musar and perhaps a few others like Château Ksara and Château Kefraya, but even for them that’s about as far as it goes. So, how is this inexpensive Lebanese red?

In the glass it pours a medium to dark red, not quite opaque. The nose shows ripe brambles and cocoa powder, very appealing at this time of year. The palate is initially somewhat earthy, with a slab of dark chocolate thrown in for good measure. Then red and black fruit follow through: cherries, plums and blackberries in particular. It also has a real garrigue aspect to it with rosemary and thyme notes. The finish is dry with fine, dusty tannins. With a little time in the glass the earthy notes die down a little and the fruit shines even more.

With rich fruit and herbs this Bekaa Valley red cries out for food – I’m thinking roast lamb, or lamb chops,, or lamb stew….you get the idea.

  • ABV: 14.5%
  • RRP: €10.99
  • Source: sample
  • Stockists: Aldi stores and aldi.ie

* I liked this wine enough to buy the remaining stock at my local Aldi.

** Yes I’m really particular about spelling French Châteaux names properly, but if a producer from another country wants to drop the circumflex then I’m going with their spelling.


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Make Mine A Double

Wine Review: Bread and Butter Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon

Members of the ABC club can look away now; if either Anything But Chardonnay or Anything But Cabernet are a motto of yours then this is not the article for you. However, for the rest of us – great, right-minded people – read on!

Bread & Butter Wines

Based in the Napa Valley, Bread & Butter’s philosophy is encapsulated by their winemaker Linda Trotta’s motto “A good wine is a wine you like“. Thus, pleasure is the aim for the majority of their wines rather than following a particular trend, matching with special food or expressing the nuances of a certain terroir. “These wines pair well with a glass” is another gem they espouse. I think you’re beginning to get the picture.

Get The One That Looks Like This
A Bread & Butter slogan.

The Bread & Butter portfolio is in three distinct ranges:

  • Classically-styled Everyday Wines: Italian Prosecco (!), California Rosé, California Sauvignon Blanc, California Chardonnay, California Pinot Noir, California Cabernet Sauvignon, California Merlot
  • “To-go” Wines: Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Merlot, Napa Valley Red Blend, Napa Valley Petite Sirah, Napa Valley Zinfandel, Napa Valley Pinot Noir, Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley Chardonnay, Napa Valley Rosé
  • “Go-to” Wines: Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon

The wines in blue and bold are available in Ireland. Quality and price increases as you move down the list. So how do the wines actually taste? Here are two from the Classically-styled Everyday Wines range:

Bread & Butter California Chardonnay 2019

Bread And Butter California Chardonnay

As its counterpart below, this is a California wine rather than any smaller AVA, so the grapes were probably sourced from several regions and blended together.

It pours a light gold in the glass, giving an indication that this is going to be a dessert wine (highly unlikely), an aged wine (nope, it’s a 2019) or an oaked wine (bingo!) And so the nose reveals: layers of vanilla and buttery toast with hints of lemon and orange. The palate is exactly how you would expect a California Chardonnay to be: lemon curd, pineapple cubes and lots of creamy texture, though not the full on butter churn experience.

While it’s far from subtle, I really like this wine. At this price point many Chardonnays are unoaked for both cost and stylistic reasons, and those that have seen some oak can be disjointed or seem confected. And I’m not alone – I have heard several wine drinkers make a beeline for this wine and declare it their new favourite.

  • ABV: 13.5%
  • RRP: €20 – €25
  • Source: purchased from Baggot Street Wines
  • Stockists: Fresh Smithfield and Grand Canal; Whelehans Loughlinstown, Deveney’s of Dundrum; Wine Centre Kilkenny; Morton’s of Ranelagh; Redmonds of Ranelagh; O’Donovans Cork; Robbie’s Drummartin; LaHoya Greens Terenure; Barnhill Stores; Baggot Street Wines; Martin’s of Fairview; Morton’s of Galway; Thomas’s of Foxrock; Parting Glass Enniskerry; McGuinness Dundalk; Next Door Ennis

Bread & Butter California Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Bread And Butter California Cabernet Sauvignon

The Cabernet Sauvignon actually poured a little lighter than I expected, though we’re still not talking Poulsard here. The nose is heady, with ripe cassis and blackcurrant*, blueberry, vanilla and toast oak notes. The palate is rich and velvety, with blackcurrant and cocoa to the fore. Tannins are very restrained indeed – this is no Pauillac facsimile. The finish has some residual sugar – I couldn’t find a tech sheet but I noted that Decanter included it within the Medium – Dry, 5 – 18 g/L category. The sugar comes through as richness more than sweetness, especially to the untrained palate. This is the type of red than many drinkers go mad for at the moment; it’s not a wine I would choose for myself unless I was eating barbecue with a sweet marinade, and then it would be quaffed with extreme prejudice.

  • ABV: 13.5%
  • RRP: €20 – €25
  • Source: purchased from Baggot Street Wines
  • Stockists: Fresh Smithfield and Grand Canal; Whelehans Loughlinstown, Deveney’s of Dundrum; Wine Centre Kilkenny; Morton’s of Ranelagh; Redmonds of Ranelagh; O’Donovans Cork; Robbies Drumartin; LaHoya Greens Terenure; Barnhill Stores; Baggot Street Wines; Martin’s of Fairview; Morton’s of Galway; Thomas’s of Foxrock; Parting Glass Enniskerry; MacGuiness’s Dundalk; Next Door Ennis

Conclusion

These are both unabashed commercial wines which give (a good proportion of) wine drinkers exactly what they are looking for. I can imagine than some won’t like either wine, but that’s not important – they really deliver drinking pleasure to those that do. I’d be happy to share a bottle of the Cab Sauv with my wife but it’s the Chardonnay I’d order for myself.

* Yes, I know they are the same thing – for most of us at least. Just checking that you’re paying attention.


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