They started just a few years go with small stores in the less favoured parts of town, but now Aldi and Lidl, collectively known as ‘discounters’ have carved out a large chunk of the grocery market.  Now biting at the heels of the big four supermarkets, Aldi has a slightly larger market share than Lidl, but both of them are bigger than Waitrose and together their combined sales have outpaced Bradford-based Morrisons.

What is significant is the way they have shifted their reputations in a short period of time. The presence of a Waitrose on your local High Street used to indicate that you were living in a desirable part of town, but now if an Aldi or Lidl arrives the locals are equally delighted. Over two-thirds of the population visited an Aldi or Lidl in the run-up to Christmas last year, showing that everyone loves a bargain.

Quite often it is the wine departments of these stores that have grabbed headlines for great wines at good value prices, so I have spent some time tasting through their new ranges to see where you should spend your money.

Aldi has a core range that stays on the shelves all year round, with vintage changes along the way. In addition, new wines join the range, some which may be long-term additions while others are purely there for the season.

Arriving on the shelves this week is Exquisite Collection Lyme Block English Wine 2018 (£9.99) which is the first English wine on the Aldi shelves.  It comes from Devon and is a blend of Bacchus, Pinot Blanc, Solaris and other grapes and it has a delicious aromatic scent of summer flowers, backed by crisp lemon and lime fruit with a fresh-tasting finish.  Because it is a new vintage and an exceptional value new wine, I expect this to fly off the shelves so it might be worthwhile stocking up soon.  ‘We are hoping for a summer like last year, so we have expanded the range of crunchy white wines and have added a whole lot more rosé wines,’ said Aldi wine buyer Mike James.

Well worth a try is a delicate, apricot-scented Exquisite Collection Albariño 2018 from Rías Baixas (£6.49) while Albanta Albariño 2018 (£7.99) from the same region is a step up in concentration with herby, savoury notes that will go terrifically well with spring salads.

Both of these are seasonal additions to the range, while Exquisite Collect Clare Valley Riesling 2018 (£6.99) in the core range has become almost a benchmark in style for its lean, brisk, tangerine peel and minerally flavours.  Try this with grilled fish.

Other highlights within the white range is a huge selection of Sauvignon Blancs from South Africa, New Zealand and Chile.  Each one has nuances of style, but they all leap out of the glass with herbaceous, pineapple and peapod flavours with a zing of fresh citrus on the finish.  My favourites among this range are the Exquisite Collection Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (£6.99) from New Zealand for its lively tropical fruit and citrus balance, while the Exquisite Collection Leyda Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (£5.49) has more crushed nettles and blackcurrant leaves with a lively, fresh lemon finish.

 

The expanded range of rosé wines is also well worth exploring, especially S de la Sablette Côtes du Luberon Rosé 2018 (£6.69) which comes in a tall elegant bottle and has light cherry fruit from its Syrah and Grenache grapes.

Also good is the Fleur de Prairie Côtes de Provence Rosé 2018 (£7.69) which comes in a stylish embossed bottle and has rounded, textured raspberry and lime fruit.  This also comes in tiny quarter bottles containing 18.7cl which is the perfect size for picnics and for lifting the spirits for those nights when you might be eating alone.

The sparkling wine range at Aldi has expanded with the addition of Philizot Organic Champagne NV (£26.99) which won’t actually arrive in stores but is limited to online only. It is a stylish, Pinot-dominated Champagne with rounded, toasted, elegant fruit.  The star of Aldi’s champagne range is their Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut which generally sells at £12.49 but over Christmas the price dropped to £9.99 for just a few days.  It was that kind of offer that boosted Aldi’s sales of sparkling wine and champagne to 17 million bottles in December alone.

Lidl’s wine range is made up of a core selection of wines, but the emphasis is generally on a parcel of wines that arrive every couple of months, adding excitement and new flavours to the shelves. The Spring Wine Tour which arrives on Thursday of next week is a collection of 29 new wines that will stay on the shelves until they sell out, which I am assured is around two months, when yet another selection will arrive. While this in-and-out process keeps the shelves looking fresh, it does mean that if you particularly like a wine, you might not be able to find it when you go back.

Among the new additions head for the lightly spiced ripe pear, honeysuckle and lime flavours of Tete à Tete Pinot Blanc Pinot Gris 2017 from Alsace (£7.99).  This will go well with spring salads and stir-fries.  Also good are the rounded, savoury flavours of Colnem Costières de Nîmes 2017 (£5.99) which has Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Marsanne in the mix adding weight and complexity.  This is a perfect wine to team with chicken and fish dishes where there are olives, chilli and herbs on the plate.

Among the reds there are dark cherry and plum flavours in Morgan 2017 (£7.99) and chunky deep blackberry fruit with a firm structure in Cahors 2017 at a bargain £5.99.

From Spain there are deep, spiced red fruits and a firm, food-friendly structure in Carles Priorat Crianza 2014 for an amazing £6.99.  Buy several bottles of this and if you don’t finish them off before summer, then they will be perfectly fine next autumn.

As a finale, pick up a bottle of Tokaji Szamorodni Béres 2016 from Hungary (£6.99 for 50cl).  This is sweet but not over-sweet with enough freshness to keep it balanced and it is perfect served alongside an apricot tart or fruit dessert.

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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