Christine Austin checks out the latest offerings from cut-price supermarket chains Lidl and Aldi

With a very limited range of just 60 wines on the shelves at Lidl, it would be easy for customers to run out of drinking options, yet wine sales have increased by an astonishing 30 per cent over the last 12 months. Lidl’s success, and that of fellow discounter Aldi, has been so meteoric that the big four supermarkets have been feeling the pinch and have been driven to cut prices and ranges in order to compete.
One of the ways Lidl keeps its customers engaged is by regular range extensions which see around 40 new faces appear on the wine shelves on a strictly WIGIG (when it’s gone, it’s gone) basis. These offers appear every two months or so, bringing a wave of new flavours which often take the price and quality ladder above the regular core range.
This week Lidl stores saw the arrival of the Easter Wine Cellar Collection, with new wines from around the globe, but with a particular focus on Eastern Europe. “There is just so much great value wine available in Hungary,” said Master of Wine Caroline Gilby, who with two other Masters of Wine acts as the tasting panel for the wine range at Lidl.
So is it worth dashing to Lidl to try the new arrivals? Certainly. There are some great new additions at reasonable prices, but just because Lidl has a reputation as a discounter, not all the wines offer the best flavour for money.
Here are my top six wines from the new range.
Sir Irsai 2015, Hungary, Haraszathy, £5.99: Irsai Olivér is an aromatic Hungarian grape and this version is dry with peachy, lychee aromas and a hint of herbs on the palate. It will be perfect as the weather warms up, with herb-dusted fish or a salad.
Ch. Dereszla, Tokaji Furmint, 2015, £5.99: Congratulations to Lidl for bringing such a niche wine to mainstream shelves. Not all Tokaji is sweet, in fact the majority isn’t, but these dry, vibrant, white blossom and herbal flavours are often overlooked in regular wine ranges.
Alsace Riesling 2014, France, £5.99: What I like about Lidl is that you don’t need to multi-buy to get the low price, and for a Riesling, this wine is great value. Try it for its clean, lemon-edged fruit with notes of ripe pear and pair it with calamari or fish and chips.
English Sparkling Wine, Broadwood’s Folly 2013, £14.99: Sourced from Denbies, owners of the largest UK vineyard, Broadwood’s Folly comes as a still white, still rosé and this sparkling wine. All are good but this fizz is exceptional for its waft of spring-breeze aromas, with a positive, frothy mousse and a long, balanced finish.
Grenache Mourvèdre Tannat 2014, South Africa, £5.49: There are some terrific flavours in this chunky, juicy, damson and blackberry stacked wine. Buy several bottles and keep them handy for pairing with winter casseroles now or barbecues when the weather warms up. This is a Friday night wine at Tuesday night prices.
Saint Joseph 2014, Rhône, France, £8.99: A real step up in quality from the usual level of Lidl wines, this is packed with pepper-dashed dark plummy fruit, and ends with soft and supple tannins. Team with slow cooked beef ribs, spiced kebabs or hearty sausages.

Chunky fruit flavours in Lidl’s South African Grenache blend.

Chunky fruit flavours in Lidl’s South African Grenache blend.

I was less impressed by the odd coconut notes in Philippe de Bois d’Arnault 2014, Montagny at £11.99. In contrast, the Premier Cru Les Millières 2013 from Majestic at £11.99 full price and £9.99 on a mix-six deal, highlighted in Off the Shelf, offers more balanced flavours and more food-friendly style. I also found the £5.99 Argentinian Malbec 2012 rather lacking in density of fruit.
Meanwhile Aldi, the other German-owned discounter, has decided to go head to head with the big retailers by offering wine cases by mail order (www.aldi.co.uk). There is a range of ready-mixed cases while some of their most popular wines are available as straight six-packs. Just to impress me, Aldi told me about the launch on a Wednesday and on Thursday morning a sample case was on my doorstep.

If you are not familiar with the Aldi range it is worthwhile trying their Exquisite mixed case (£38.24) which includes a zesty, lively Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, a steely, citrusy Gavi, and a rounded peachy Australian Chardonnay. There are three reds including a savoury, rounded Malbec, a deep-flavoured Ribera del Duero and a stylish New Zealand red. What I particularly like is that they list the normal retail price of each wine in the case and if you add them up, it comes to the same price that they are charging for the case. It is a simple principle but one that is not always followed by all mail order operations.
During the launch phase of their wine cases operation delivery is free but it will cost £3 per six-bottle case, and if you want next day delivery that will charged extra.

About The Author

Christine Austin

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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