Posts Tagged Lidl

Warming red wines for wet Wednesdays

First published in The Irish Times, Saturday October 28th, 2017

It is a dark, wet Wednesday evening, when the damp seems to creep in to every bone in your body. Your partner comes in looking weary after another hard day in the office. You know you don’t drink on a Wednesday, but this evening circumstances seem to dictate otherwise. The aromas of a freshly baked lasagne or a herb-scented warming stew seem to demand that you open a bottle of red wine. And so, over dinner, you have one glass, maybe two, of a simple, easy-drinking red, and the world seems a slightly better place.

We are not looking at wines that will have you searching for superlatives, but we do want a wine that tastes of something and will offer a little interest. Most really cheap wines are fine but boring. They taste as if they been manipulated by a team of winemakers to cover over any faults, leaving a medium-bodied, slightly sweet, rounded red wine with slightly confected fruit.  And they have. They are drinkable but bland and a little boring.

Sadly, post-financial crisis, most prices at the cellar door are beginning to increase a little. So whereas once you could find plenty of interesting wines at that magical €9.99, most seem to have crept up in price. This week I walked into four of our biggest retailers and bought a bottle of red wine in the €10-€13 range. It is impossible to keep up with the ever-changing prices in supermarkets, so some of these wines may cost less (or more ) by the time you read this. But all should be safely within the €10-€13 price bracket and maybe even less.

The Pinot Noir from SuperValu is light enough to drink alongside salmon or tuna, but would also go nicely with chicken and pork dishes. It featured as a party wine a few weeks back as well. The Chianti from Lidl has a little more body and would be more at home with lighter pasta dishes or pizza. You could match the Malbec with a steak but it would also drink well with lasagne or stew and other midweek dishes. The Cairanne is the most full-bodied and would be a good match for grilled lamb or beef.

On a related topic I wonder what will happen to supermarket wines if and when minimum pricing is brought in. If the selling price of a €6 bottle of wine is artificially increased to €8, will they continue to sell the same wine at an increased price and with a vastly inflated profit margin, or will they source a better wine?

In the meantime here are my wet Wednesday reds from the supermarkets. Next week, four bottles in the same price bracket from a few independent retailers.

Chianti Classico Riserva 2014, Fortezza dei Colli
14%, €10.99

Smooth easy red cherry fruits with a lift of acidity to keep it fresh, a hit of vanilla and a nice bite on the tail end. Perfect with lasagne.
Stockists: Lidl

Cairanne 2016, Domaine de La Belle Estelle
14.5%, €10.99

From the southern Rhône valley, a swarthy, powerful, meaty red wine with burly dark fruits sprinkled with spice. A genuine winter warmer.
Stockists: Aldi

Tesco Finest Argentina Malbec 2015
13.5% €12 (€9 on promotion)

Medium to full-bodied with perfumed, juicy dark fruits, all loganberry and plums with a very nicely rounded, soft finish.
Stockists: Tesco

Pinot Noir La Petite Perrière 2015, Saget, Vin de France
12.5%, €10.99 (€9 on promotion or three for €25)

A very friendly, medium-bodied red with soft, sweet, succulent dark cherry fruits, finishing with a flourish.
Stockists: SuperValu

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Ch. Pey du Pont 2012, Médoc Cru Bourgeois

<strong>Ch. Pey du Pont 2012, Médoc Cru Bourgeois</strong>

DSCF6922Ch. Pey du Pont 2012, Médoc Cru Bourgeois

Classic Médoc with slightly austere blackcurrant fruits, a bit of structure and some drying tannins on the finish. Well made wine. If that sounds a bit negative, it shouldn’t – this is good value and an enjoyable wine.

I wouldn’t try this without food, and it would go best with roast red meats – lamb or beef.

Lidl have a very decent range of inexpensive Bordeaux in their French wine sale. I have covered a bigger selection of their wines in earlier blogs.

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September Supermarket Wine Sales

September Supermarket Wine Sales

First published in The Irish Times Saturday 20th August

Around this time of year, the multiples start their autumn wine sales. Among all the half-priced wines and other bogus offers, this year there are some genuine bargains. SuperValu could claim to be the originator of the autumn French wine sale, but in recent years, it has been Lidl leading the charge with a well-chosen list of goodies, targeting the middle-class wine drinker. This year the Lidl range is tighter, with 50 wines on offer, but there is plenty to choose from. The sale starts on September 12th. Aldi has taken Lidl on this year with a World Wine Festival, starting on August 21st.

From Alsace, Lidl has three very tasty wines, the floral, fruity Sylvaner 2015 (€8.99, a great aperitif wine), the pleasantly fruity Ernest Wein Riesling 2015 (€9.99) and the more serious, waxy, honeyed Riesling Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergbeiten (€12.99). My star white was the delicious crisp dry Sauvignon Blanc, Adrien Marechal Reuilly 2015 (€14.99).

In Beaujolais, 2015 was a great vintage and the Mignot Fleurie from that year is a steal at €10.99. Burgundy lovers can chose from the chunky, fruit-filled Ladoix (€15.99), although bargain-hunters might be better advised to go for the light, clean Les Chanussots Hautes-Côtes de Nuits (€10.99). Moving on to Bordeaux, the Château de Rousselet Côtes de Bourg (€9.99) offers fantastic value, as do the Château Lalande Mausse, Fronsac 2013 (€9.99) and the Château le Bourdillot 2012 (€10.99) and the classic, tannic Médoc Cru Bourgeois Château Pey de Pont 2012 (€11.99).Moving up in price, hedonists will go for the lush, oaky Virginie de Valandraud 2014 (€32.99), but I would be delighted to have some of the very impressive Château de la Dauphine 2011, at a very competitive €24.99, in my cellar.

Aldi has the excellent crisp, dry Grüner Veltliner Ried Seiber from Austria at an unbelievably cheap €8.99. In the reds, they have two amazingly inexpensive Pinots Noirs, the light, fragrant Fritz Keller 2014 from Germany for €9.99 and the richer, fruitier de Bertoli Yarra Valley GS from Australia for €10.99. Another must-buy is the Nikau Point Syrah from Hawke’s Bay, a steal at €9.99. Bordeaux-lovers should seek out the elegant dry Gloria Douro Reserva , €8.99.

SuperValu will have over 100 French wines on offer as well as twenty new French wines in their French Wine sale, starting September 1st. From these I would go for the following; the light, fresh La Petite Perrière Sauvignon Blanc 2015, and the red equivalent, La Petite Perrière Pinot Noir 2015, (both €9), also light, with subtle dark cherry fruits and vanilla.

Image 4Ch. de la Dauphine 2011, Fronsac, Bordeaux

Structured, concentrated cassis and blackcurrants with a dry finish. Decant now and enjoy or keep a year or two.

Stockists: Lidl

NikauPointReserveNikau Point Syrah 2014, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand

Delicious light savoury peppery dark cherry fruits. Try it with cumin-scented grilled lamb chops.

Stockists: Aldi

ImageLa Petite Perrière Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Vin de France

Lively refreshing plump green fruits. A good everyday all-purpose Sauvignon to drink solo or with salads.

Stockists: SuperValu

Bargain Wine

Image 3Fleurie Mignot 2015

Delightful fresh fruit-filled Beaujolais; drink solo or with ham and other pork dishes.

Stockists: Lidl

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Alsace Riesling

IMG_5385First published in the Irish Times Saturday August 13th, 2016

A recent trip to Alsace reignited my love for the wines of this region. And for the food too, although I suspect after a few weeks spent consuming all of that hearty fare, I might require a gastric bypass.

At one time, Alsace was unique among appellation contrôlée wines of France as the only one permitted to display the grape variety on the label. This was a nod towards its Germanic traditions. The grapes, too, sometimes have a German parentage. This is the only part of France permitted to grow Riesling. In addition, you will find Sylvaner and Gewürztraminer, both popular over the border, alongside Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois.I enjoy a glass of summery Sylvaner, and tasted one on my trip, courtesy of our host, Lidl, which will offer it at a very competitive price (around €8-€9) in their forthcoming French Wine Sale, starting on September 12th. Alsace produces a variety of white wines from these six grapes and some improving reds, and the occasional rosé, from Pinot Noir. Crémant, the sparkling wine of Alsace, is big business these days. Made by the same process as Champagne, they can be very good.

However, Riesling is the king of Alsace. The best wines have an amazing combination of freshness and power, a steely austerity combined with a richness of fruit. They can be drunk young, or aged for a decade or more. They partner brilliantly with food, and not just fish. In this part of the world, all of those pork and chicken dishes are routinely served with Riesling. Alsace Riesling tends to be more substantial and drier than the German versions. I was surprised how difficult it was to find a decent bottle of Alsace Riesling in shops here. There is certainly no shortage of good wines being imported, but possibly they are not an easy sell. You won’t find much under €15, but there are some great wines in the €15-€25 category.

I have always been a huge fan of the Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Émile Riesling (around €50 a bottle) and should you come across a bottle of the Trimbach Clos Sainte Hune, you could treat yourself to one of France’s greatest wines. You will require a healthy wallet though; it sells for more than €100 a bottle. But the basic Trimbach Riesling, (€19.50, widely available), is one of the best-value white wines on the market.

Other names to seek out include Hugel, Sipp Mack, Schlumberger, Zinck, Zind-Humbrecht, Weinbach, René Muré, Meyer-Fonné, all from independents. Look out for anything from the two leading co-operatives, the Cave de Turckheim and the Cave de Hunawihr.

DSCF6855Riesling Réserve 2014, Cave Vinicole de Hunawihr, Alsace

Lovely lively fresh Riesling with crisp green apple and pear fruits. Nice wine.

Stockists: Clontarf Wines; World Wide Wines, Waterford.

DSCF6863Kreydenweiss Riesling Andlau 2013, Alsace, Biodynamic

Delightful fresh youthful floral aromas and generous green fruits, finishing bone dry.

Stockist: O’Briens

DSCF6851Trimbach Riesling Réserve 2010, Alsace

A glorious maturing Riesling boasting honeyed toasted fruits with a steely backbone and dry finish.

Stockists: Donnybrook Fair; Jus de Vine.

Bargain Wine-

ImageHugel Gentil 2014, Alsace

A blend of all five Alsace white varieties; attractive soft easy peaches and pears with a welcome cut of lime zest.

Martin’s; McHugh’s; Jus De Vine; Sweeneys; Green Man, & independents.

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Lidl French Wine Sale Part Two – Red Wine Preview

<strong>Lidl French Wine Sale Part Two – Red Wine Preview</strong>


As mentioned in my earlier post, Lidl will hold their French Wine Sale from 12th September onwards. I tasted my way through all of the wines. Here is a brief preview of my favourite red wines. There may well be more to add when I receive further samples shortly. There were fewer fine wines this year I think, but plenty of nicely priced wines to tempt us all. Their selection of inexpensive Bordeaux is very strong this year.

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Fleurie 2015 Mignot Père & Fils €9-11
If you are a fan of Beaujolais (and I am) you will certainly enjoy this wine. 2015 was a great vintage in Beaujolais and it shows. Very nice crunchy ripe cherry fruits and a smooth easy finish. Amazing value, particularly if it sells for less than €10.

Image 15Philippe de Bois d’Arnault Ladoix Les Gonia 2014 (€15.99-17.99)
Decent chunky dark cherry fruits with nice refreshing acidity. Good value for money.

Image 6Ch. de Rousselet 2011, Côtes de Bourg (€9-11)
Very attractive light leafy mature Bordeaux with soft blackberry fruits. This is very keenly priced, and will certainly go down well with claret lovers.

Ch. Lalande Mausse 2013, Fronsac, Bordeaux (€9-11)

Clean fresh blackcurrant fruits, with good acidity and nice weight and quality of fruit. Nice wine.
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Ch. Roylland 2012 St. Émilion Grand Cru (€19-20)
Very ripe, soft lush dark fruits; slightly animal and some new oak. Very easy commercial wine that will please the crowds, but not really my style.

Virginie de Valandraud 2014 St. Émilion Grand Cru (€33-35)

Another lush soft sexy wine with ripe cassis and some spicy new oak. As with the previous wine, it will certainly appeal to those who like rounded oaky wines.

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Ch. de la Dauphine 2011, Fronsac (€22-25)
Very good chunky ripe Bordeaux with plums, blackcurrant and cassis, a nice tannic grip, finishing well. Classic right-bank Bordeaux at a good price.
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Ch. Lagrange 2012, Saint Julien Grand Cru Classé €40
As posted earlier this is a nice wine with classic St. Julien flavours of blackcurrant, cedar wood and good fine grained tannins. Very good wine, but I would like a little more length and concentration for my €40. Still very enjoyable drinking though.

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Following on from Aldi last week, Lidl held a smaller tasting to highlight their forthcoming Italian wine sale. As per my comments on the Aldi wines, there were plenty of incredibly cheap, drinkable but unexciting wines, and a few worth trying out as well. The Italian Wine Sale, part of the ‘Italiamo Food Theme’ starts on 13th June and continues while stocks last. There are nineteen wines in total. In July, Lidl will also be introducing a range of craft beers from Ireland, the UK, and Belgium; I will post notes next week on these.


Soave Classico 2015 Corte Allodola

Clean fresh crisp apple fruits with a rounded finish. A very nice well-priced summer wine.


Gavi di Gavi 2014

Light fresh pear and stone fruits with a crisp dry finish. As with the Soave above, an inexpensive refreshing summer white.


Morellino di Scansano 2014

Ripe jammy, easy dark fruits. Juicy and very gluggable. Perfect with all sorts of barbecued red and white meats.

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Chianti Classico Riserva 2011

I have written about this wine before. I would hesitate to describe it as a classic Sangiovese, and I don’t know how Lidl find a Chianti Classico at such a cheap price, but the ripe rounded sweet cherry fruits are very seductive and this is an inexpensive crowd-pleasing wine.

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Barolo DOCG 2012

The most expensive wine at the tasting. This has some of the classic tannic grip and acidity of the Nebbiolo grape, along with some light savoury fruits. A little more fruit and it would be a good wine. As it is, this is an astonishingly cheap price for a Barolo, and worth trying out with grilled red meats if you are a Nebbiolo fan. But rounded and fruity it ain’t.

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Bordeaux superieur: fruitful trips to wine-producing chateaux The new Cité du Vin gives another good reason to visit the French city

IMG_3635First Published in the Irish Times Saturday 6th March, 2016

A deputation of Bordelais officials travelled to Dublin recently to present the Irish press corps with some compelling reasons to visit their city. I am not sure we need convincing. It seems Bordeaux is going to be a very busy place this summer. As every football fan will be aware, Ireland face Belgium here at Euro 2016 on June 18th.

The Stade de Bordeaux has a capacity of 42,000, so tickets will not be easy to come across. The massive Parc des Quinconces will be turned into a fan zone. If the match isn’t going well, you could always meander down to the nearby river, a Unesco Heritage site, and enjoy the wonderful scenery.

The soccer doesn’t end there. On June 21st, Croatia take on Spain and one of the quarter finals will take place here on July 2nd.

In addition to football there are plenty of wine-related activities. From June 23rd-26th, the city will host the annual Fête le Vin, a lively festival that takes place in tents and pavilions along the waterfront.

I really enjoyed the event a few years ago, a great mix of tastings, food and culture. At around the same time, the brand new Cité du Vin will open its doors. This impressive wine cultural centre and museum covers wine from around the world, and promises something for all the family, including children.

It would be shame to visit Bordeaux without paying a visit to a few of the wine producers. At one time, the châteaux of Bordeaux were reluctant to open their doors to the public, but happily this has all changed in recent years.From the offices of the CIVB (Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux) in the city centre, a string of buses leave every morning to visit various regions of Bordeaux and their châteaux. There will also be a jetty beside the Cité du Vin, where you can take boat trips to the vineyards.Given the city is going to be very busy, I strongly suggest you look at or the more general and make arrangements before travelling.

However, you don’t really need an excuse to go to Bordeaux; the city was rejuvenated under former mayor Alain Juppé and is a wonderful place to visit (although if you are travelling by car the traffic is never great). Many of the fine old buildings along the waterfront have been renovated, the old town is buzzing with activity, and has plenty of food and wine shops, restaurants and other ways to spend your money.If you tire of the city, and of wineries, take a relaxing a trip to the amazing beaches of Arcachon or the nearby oyster beds.


And so to the wines; Bordeaux continues to produce some of the world’s finest. The Grands Crus Classés may be beyond the reach of many, but this is one of the largest wine regions in France, so there will always be plenty of less expensive wines. Don’t worry if you don’t make it to Bordeaux; most retailers here have a decent selection.O’Briens starts its Bordeaux sale on March 1st; I can recommend the seductive, supple Château Sainte Marie (€14.35), and the excellent Château Marsau Arpège 2010 for €15.95, a very keen price.I also really enjoyed the Château Pey-Bonhomme Les Tours 2012 (€20) from 64wine recently. Lidl should still have some wines left from its French wine sale, including the Fiefs de Lagrange below.I would also recommend the elegant plummy Château de Francs 2011 and the ripe juicy Château Clos Fontaine 2010, both good value at €12.99. Greenacres in Wexford has one of the finest selections of Bordeaux in the country, with prices to fit every budget. Mitchell & Son welcomes back Château de Lamarque to its portfolio after a gap of a few years; it also has a mouth-watering selection of good Bordeaux.

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Lidl Chianti Classico Riserva 2009

Lidl Chianti Classico Riserva 2009

Image 1Lidl Chianti Classico Riserva 2009

Available from Lidl.

Supple soft red cherry fruits and a tannin-free finish. Simple easy-drinking all-purpose wine.

Chianti usually falls into one of three categories; the first covers most of the cheap versions. These are acidic, scrawny, nasty and undrinkable. Then there is the second category, usually but not always from the posher sub-region of Chianti Classico. These are sublime wines, with lifted dark cherries, good acidity and plenty of tannins. They are great with red meat and game. They are also expensive; expect to pay €20 and more; a lot more for the very best. The third category covers a small group of wines that are soft and supple with lush sweet ripe fruits. They don’t taste very like Chianti, which tends to have high acidity. Nor do they have the complexity of a top Chianti Classico. But they are very gluggable on a Wednesday night. The Lidl version is a part of this grouping; inexpensive and light with very easy rounded fruits. For €10.49, you can’t really go wrong.

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Lidl recently held a tasting of their next French offer, that will start on 22nd February. This will be smaller in size than Christmas or September, but there were some good red wines, mainly Bordeaux.

Beaujolais Villages 2014 €9.99 – very, very light, but smells and tastes like Beaujolais. If you want something tasty to drink while watching TV, this might fit the bill.

Ch Clos Fontaine 2010, Francs – Côtes de Bordeaux €12.99 – from a good vintage, this wine is now mature, with lovely ripe cassis and plums and decent length. Great value.

Ch. Quattre 2009 Cahors €12.99 – if, like me, you like firm, cool wines with chunky black fruits and a dry finish then buy this to sup with your breast of duck (also available from Lidl).

Ch. de Carles 2008, Fronsac €17.99 – light and soft with easy ripe plummy fruits. Fully mature and reasonable value for money.

Josephine de Boyd 2009, Margaux €24.99 –fragrant on the nose, with some new oak; a nice concentration of elegant smooth blackcurrant fruits with a dry finish. Very good. This is from Ch. Boyd Cantenac, a Grand Cru Classé.

Ch. Livran 2010, Cru Bourgeois, Médoc €14.99 – a wine I used to drink regularly many years ago. Four-square meaty, firm solid claret. Decant and drink with roast red meats or keep a year or two.

Les Fiefs de Lagrange 2011, Saint Julien €24.99 – my sheet said only available through Lidl Customer Service, but my local branch (Greystones) still has this, and other fine wines, left over from the Christmas sale. This is from another Grand Cru Classé, Ch. Lagrange. I really like its elegant smooth blackcurrant and mint fruit and effortless elegance.

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Three supermarket red wines for €10 or a lot less.

Three supermarket red wines for €10 or a lot less.

Three bargain red wines that I came across this week; the first featured in my weekly online piece (Take It Home) in the Irish Times on Wednesday. The other two I came across at the Lidl tasting earlier this week. I have tasted them before, but on this occasion they stood out amongst a sea of inexpensive wines. Spain is one of the few countries that continues to offer amazing value at less than €10.

luis-felile-edwards-gran-reserva-pinot-noirLuis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Family Selection Pinot Noir 2013

Herewith my lightening guide to the world of Pinot Noir, fast becoming the wine everybody wants to drink. Burgundy produces the most complex wonderful Pinot of all. The best are hideously expensive, the cheapest are very variable. New Zealand probably comes next with excellent wines at the top end and lovely fruit-filled wines at the cheaper end. The problem is the cheaper end is generally around €15.

Germany, next door to Burgundy, produces some fantastic elegant wines too, but again they tend to start at €15. Sadly the best value (as opposed to cheapest) wines from the three above mentioned areas generally cost between €20 and €30, with nothing drinkable at €10. Only Chile can deliver here. The above wine, a mere €10 from SuperValu and O’Donovan’s in Cork, is a very gluggable light wine with earthy dark cherry fruits. Great value too.

Image 2Lidl DO Tarragona Reserva 2010

Ever so cheap, this is a good soft sweet juicy crowd-pleasing red with no tannins and a decent amount of ripe red fruits.

Image 5Lidl DO Tarragona Gran Reserva 2009

This is older, smoother and a little oakier than the basic Lidl Tarragona. Soft, easy-drinking wine at an amazingly cheap price. Not sure I would pay the extra euro for this one, but either wine would be great with a casserole or grilled red meat on a wet winter evening.

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