Monthly Archives: June 2014

Aldi wine… Exquisite in name and nature?


The article I wrote on Aldi wine back in January 2013 is by far the most read piece on the blog and “Aldi wine” is the source of an extremely high percentage of my search traffic. I have been back a few times in the 18 months that have passed and have bought (and enjoyed) a few bottles of wine… but I thought it was time to give the wines some proper attention once again.

I’m sure there are many of you who have read all of the hype around Aldi’s wine selection, but here’s a few things you should know:

  • The wine is bought by one guy, Dr Mike James (PhD on the world’s smallest butterfly apparently!)
  • Mike has claimed in the past that his mission is to find the very best value wines to sell in the UK
  • The entire range numbers 74 (according to their website)
  • The 750ml bottle prices start at £2.99 for the Baron St Jean Blanc and Baron St Jean Rouge
  • The Exquisite Collection, which lets you “Discover a world of premium wines at far from premium prices”, is Aldi’s equivalent to Tesco’s Finest or Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference ranges

Thankfully, it is far easier to get to Aldi now that they have opened a branch in Hemel Hempstead (surely Watford will get one soon!), and I decided to focus my shopping on wines from the Exquisite Collection, which have previously performed so well. Of the eleven wines in the range detailed on the website I was able to find seven on the shelf (I will return to find the Malbec, Cotes de Provence Rosé, NZ Pinot Noir and Muscadet) and the Fish and I have been working our way through the selection over the past couple of weeks. Yes, the reviews are based on a bottle, not a 25ml pour!


Overall the Exquisite Collection wines are extremely well sourced and are incredible value. These are wines to be enjoyed for any occasion and I look forward to serving a few blind to dinner guests over the coming months. Again, the Aussie Cabernet Sauvignon stood out a mile and I cannot think of another wine for under £7 that comes anywhere near the complexity and balance of this brilliantly pot together wine. Dr James, take a bow:


Aldi Exquisite Collection Riesling 2013, Clare Valley, Australia (£6.99)

Lemon, crisp apple and a dash of tangerine on the very inviting nose. Bone dry with citrus citrus fruit, more lime on the palate along with that tangerine pith note and a cooling clean slate minerality. It’s got most things you want from Clare – not great on length and could do with a squizz more acidity but a bargain at £6.99. 88 points


Aldi Exquisite Collection Gavi 2013, Piedmont, Italy (£5.29)

Aromas of pear, citrus and white blossom and just a hint of verbena (really!). Nice texture and breezy acidity with lots of fruit and the underlying floral and herbal notes. Lovely with a creamy pasta dish. 87 points


Aldi Exquisite Collection Albariño 2013, Rias Baixas, Spain (£5.99)

Peach, grapefruit, hint of mandarin even. Lovely richness and zippy lemon sherbet acidity and pear with a wonderful salty finish… Where are those oysters? Maybe just a little short on the finish, but come on! 88 points


Aldi Exquisite Collection Shiraz, South Eastern Australia (£5.99)

I usually avoid anything with South-Eastern Australia as a catch-all on the label… but I’m glad I gave this one a go! Deep dark plum fruit and an wonderful milk chocolate hit on the nose with just a hint if smoky spice. Fresh acidity on the attack with dark cherry fruit dipped in chocolate sauce and even a rasp (sorry) of raspberry. Nice grip and a pleasantly long and peppery finish. Geez this is very good. 91 points


Aldi Exquisite Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Clare Valley, Australia (£6.99)

Possibly my best value wine of 2013, how’s it shaping up? Lovely and pure black currant aromas with just a hint of cassis liqueur, a touch if cedar and a breath of fresh eucalyptus. On the palate the black currants explode on the tongue and there is a shot if coffee richness before the fresh eucalyptus shows itself on the long and deliciously complex finish. This is an excellent wine and I can’t think of anything better under £7. 92


Aldi Exquisite Collection Chardonnay 2013, Limestone Coast, Australia (£5.99)

This was the only let down of the range – and it all started so well! The aromas are rich and enticing with citrus, pineapple and a dash of ripe peach… what a shame the palate was so overwhelmed by the warmth of the alcohol. I gave it time, I kept going back but this is one where the balance was off. 82 points


Aldi Exquisite Collection Fleurie 2013, Beaujolais (£6.49)

Massive aromas of super-ripe cherries with the freshness of raspberry and just a touch of minerality… so far so good. Good body and nice texture with crunchy fruit and some chewy tannin; the fruit is bright and fresh with just a hint of earth and brininess. Very good Cru Beaujolais. 87 points









#newwinethisweek Week 22 – Fino Sherry, Jerez


To coincide with International Sherry Week, Mike has decided to plump for Fino as this week’s selection…


It’s a funny old thing sherry; as much maligned as it is adored. I must be honest that I am not a big fan but I haven’t really tried a great deal of the stuff either so I’m willing to learn (though I do love a glass of Pedro Ximinez with a piece of cheesecake after last autumn’s visit to San Sebastian!).

There are many wine aficionados who swear by it, no more than the massively talented Zelda Sydney, who writes (or should that be draws?) the magnificent Illustrated Wine blog; in fact she loves it so much so that she has created a great new piece to coincide with our sherry week:


Sherry is made principally using the Palomino grape grown near the town of Jerez in Andalusia, Spain (Pedro Ximenez or Moscatel grapes are added to make the sweeter styles). It is a fortified wine that can be made in a great variety of styles.


The Palomino grapes are harvested and pressed before the juice is fermented in stainless steel vats to produce a dry white wine with 11% to 12% alcohol. The wine is classified after fermentation; if the wine has fine flavours and aromas it is deemed suitable for Fino (or Manzanilla in the cooler climate of Anlúcar de Barrameda). The base wine is then fortified with grape spirit to reach 15.5% and the wine is placed into under-filled barrels to age for a minimum of two years, where a flor (a layer of yeast) develops to protect the wine from too much oxidation.

This style of sherry should be drunk young and apparently in a single sitting (!) and you should expect a bone-dry wine with yeasty, salty flavours and notes of Mediterranean herbs and almonds.


But that’s enough theory; here are some wines that are easily available:

Tesco Finest Fino Sherry (Tesco £6.00, 500ml)

Waitrose Manzanilla Fino Sherry (Waitrose £6.99, 750ml)

M&S Fino Dry Sherry (M&S £6.99, 750ml)

The Society’s Fino (The Wine Society £6.25)


Have a sip and follow the link to to place your vote!

You can see the full #newwinethisweek leaderboard here.



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