I went to the Aldi summer tasting yesterday. Held in Coppa Café in the RHA Gallery, it was a very manageable event, made up primarily of a selection of their core year-round listings with a few once-off limited edition specials. According to Ed Kerrigan, Aldi Ireland wine buyer, they will be doing more of these in the future. For instance there were 30,000 bottles of their very good Lot 2 Australian Chardonnay to share between the UK and Ireland.
I believe that most inexpensive supermarket wines (and most of the Aldi wines are amazingly cheap) these days are drinkable, but rarely exciting. Wine companies have the technical ability to manipulate grapes, grape juice and wine throughout the winemaking process, so the completely undrinkable gut-wrenching stuff of yesteryear has disappeared. It has been replaced by a host of soft rounded sweetish wines with confected fruit and little by the way of character or interest. Some are better than others, and they do offer something to drink over dinner at a very cheap price. But overall I would prefer to pay a little bit more for a better wine (and yes I do buy wine as well as receiving samples). It would be interesting to see how these wines would fare if minimum pricing is introduced. I also wonder what would happen if the EU does finally introduce mandatory ingredient labelling – according to wine writer Alice Feiring there are more than sixty additives and treatments permitted in winemaking. It is not only the cheap wines that receive manipulation, but it seems logical that they require more intervention.
This is not a direct criticism of Aldi wines; I believe that they handle this end of the market quite well. Amongst the 35 odd wines tasted yesterday, I did come across a few that I thought were good value. In addition to those mentioned below, I have also praised the Lot 2 Tasmanian Chardonnay at €12.99.
Aldi The Exquisite Collection Gavi 2014
Decent fresh crisp dry wine with waxy green apple fruits.
Aldi The Exquisite Collection Rías Baixas Albariño 2014
Made by Martín Codax, one of the largest producers in the region, this has plenty of pear fruits with lemon curd and zest. It seems to finish quite sweet, but ok at the price.
Aldi The Exquisite Collection Picpoul de Pinet 2013
This is made by Jean Claude Mas, who supplies a huge range of wines to various supermarkets, as well as producing some quite up-market wines from the Languedoc. Quite plump and rich (as with many Picpouls these days – what happened to the lighter Muscadets of the South?) with clean pear and melon fruits.
The Exquisite Collection Limestone Coast Chardonnay 2013
Light ripe plump red apple and melon fruits, with no off-notes. Decent value.
Ch Marot Bellevue 2013, Bordeaux
The 2012 vintage was a little too light, but this is better. I have a weakness for slightly scrawny, dry Bordeaux (it all depends what you were brought up on) and this certainly fits into that category; it has very light blackcurrant fruits, good acidity and a slightly herby note. I would drink this cool over summer with cold meats and charcuterie.
The Exquisite Collection Cabernet de Cabernet 2014
Another wine from Jean Claude Mas. Decent juicy blackcurrant fruits with some classic Cabernet pencil shavings and grainy tannins on the finish.