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Shopping at Aldi… I like it

I’ve only been to Aldi on a couple of occasions and on both times it was to take photos of in store displays for work. My parents and in-laws are always extolling the virtues of the discount supermarket and Which voted Aldi the best supermarket in the UK for 2012. Mum served up an Aldi roast duck over Xmas which was absolutely delicious so The Fish and I decided it was time for a visit.

We picked up a duck and the much advertised 4-bird roast for the freezer as well as plenty of cleaning products and lots of other stuff we hadn’t realised we needed. Then at the end of the shop we came to the wine section. I have read good things about the Aldi wine range but never really considered buying as we never go there. So why not give it a go I thought. The most expensive bottle is £12.99 for Champagne, the most expensive still wine was £6.99. I selected 6 bottles, 3 white and 3 red for a grand total of £34.94… Less than I often pay for a bottle!

So far we have tasted 3 of the wines and I can assure you we will be going back. Obviously I bought the most expensive wine at £6.99, however I think it may be the best value red wine available in the UK. (I will update the tasting notes as more bottles are drunk)

White wines

Henri De Lorgere Macon Villages 2011, Burgundy (Aldi £4.99)
Very pale straw colour, lots of citrus and nectarine, even some tropical fruit aromas. Big hit of acidity and lime; very fresh, very simple, very young. For the price this is great stuff and would happily have a bottle in the fridge just waiting to be drunk after a bad day at work. 87 points

The Exquisite Collection Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Loire (Aldi £4.99)
Had those very pungent Sauvignon aromas of freshly cut grass, gooseberry and also some asparagus. On the palate there is lots of crisp and dry acidity and the fruits is nicely restrained and very fresh. Also lots of flinty minerality. This is very nice and doesn’t have the astringency of lots of the New Zealand Sauvignons on the market. Touraine is only about 100km west of Sancerre and this wine is very much like a Petit Sancerre. 85 points

The Exquisite Collection Limestone Coast Chardonnay 2012, South Australia (£5.99)
Very tropical aromas of melon, mango and even passion fruit. Not what I was expecting at all. You may even think thus is a Sauvignon it’s that tropical on the palate too. Not much body but very refreshing. Thus would be an excellent BBQ wine with some chicken. 86 points

Red wines

The Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, South Australia (£6.99)
Umm, I’m not sure where to go with this. It’s fantastic! Massively concentrated black currant and menthol on the nose and a huge whack of deep dark fruit, like cassis liqueur, eucalyptus and tobacco on the palate. Wow. Could this be the best value red wine anywhere? 91 points

The Exquisite Selection Uco Valley Malbec 2011, Argentina (Aldi £5.99)
Really enjoyable aromas of black cherry, blueberries, violets and that expected rubber note, like a hit squash ball. Fruit carries onto the palate with a bit if spice and maybe a touch too much rubber, but excellent value nevertheless. 88 points

Baron Amarillo Rioja Reserva 2006, Spain (Aldi £5.99)
Bright ruby red in the glass and aromas of strawberries and red cherries and a hint of vanilla. Red fruit one palate and some eucalyptus – a bit Bordeaux maybe? Finish is a bit short and lacks depth and concentration. Can’t complain at this price though. 85 points

If that was on interest here’s a link to a more recent article, published in May 2014

My wine hero

Before you read any further, there is something you need to know. Jez is my wine hero. Jez is also my pusher. He started me on the light stuff, got me hooked, and is now reaping the rewards. I don’t mean any if that of course, because Jez is what all of us wine lovers need. An independent wine merchant who cares. Someone who listens, who’s advice you cherish and appreciate.

I first walked into Wine and the Vine, situated in Battler’s Green, near Radlett, about 4 years ago. It’s a really inviting and friendly show room, although sometimes a bit cold… Temperature-wise! The first words after “hello” were “can I offer you a taste?” And that’s how it started, with a taster of the fantastic Don David Torrontes from Argentina. I walked out of Jez’s shop that day with a dozen wines, half of which I would never even have dreamt of lifting off a supermarket shelf. I also walked away without paying – at the time there was no credit card machine (there is now) – instead he gave me a piece of paper with his bank details printed on one side. I was hooked.

Tasting wine is brilliant. You try things you may not have ever considered, or ever heard of. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday Jez offers 6 wines to anyone who comes into the shop. It’s an eclectic mix and I always end up taking home a couple of bottles which weren’t on my mental list. You can’t do this at the supermarket! Don’t get me wrong; they have their place, but they are soulless. Your independent guy has soul. Your independent guy has personality. Your independent guy is there for you.

I’ve had some of the best wines I’ve tried from Jez. Because he listens. He understands what I like and can make informed recommendations. Jez introduced me to Burgundy via a stupendous bottle of Nicolas Rossignol Volnay 1er Cru En Chevret 2006. Not only that, when I told him I was going to Beaune last February, he helped arrange a visit with Nicolas via one of his suppliers. This is why your independent wine guy is so important – you will learn so much and get so much in return.

Please use your local merchants. Talk to them, listen to them, and most importantly of all, cherish them. They are the heroes of our wine world.

Jez Grice
Wine & The Vine
Battlers Green Farm
Common Lane

I’ve only recently started keeping tasting notes, so here is a selection from some recent visits to Wine and the Vine. The selection suits all pockets and all styles. There are a couple of expensive bottles below but there is plenty of choice under £10! If you live nearby please pop in and say hello… And enjoy your tasting!

Some whites

Andeluna Torrontes 1300, 2011, Mendoza, Argentina (£10.75)

I tried this in a shop and it was beautifully aromatic – just goes to show how much bottle variation there can be. Grapefruit and a hint of citrus, some floral notes. Pithy grapefruit, lacking freshness. no length. Disappointing. 80 points

Dopff Au Moulin Gewertztraminer Reserve 2010 (£15.99)

I opened this straight after the Torrontes and wasn’t disappointed. Honey, nectarines and spice. Very aromatic. Spicy, full bodied, nectarines and eastern mystery. Lovely, with a hint of sweetness. 20 minutes later the Turkish delight tastes great! 89 points

Domaine Botti Saint Veran 2009 (£12.85)

St Veran is one of my go to communes for value white Burgundy and this wine is no exception. Honeydew melon and pink apples on nose and palate. A dash short on acidity but very tasty and lovely almond and cobnut finish. 88 points

Some reds

Pierre Naigion Hautes cotes des Nuits 2007 (£18.65)

We drunk this when we were doing our Burgundy vs. Oregon tasting (see post). Very good structure and flavour for the price. A hint of brick on the rim and a nose which offers sweet morello cherries and a whiff of smokeyness. Light bodied and the fruit from the nose is there in the mouth, along with that lovely damp forrest floor vibe. Not a wine of great length but certainly one of charm. 89 points

Andeluna Malbec 1300, 2011, Uco Valley, Argentina (£10.75)

Lovely example of Malbec – drink with or without food. Spicy, peppery and velvet smooth. Tannins are forefront but not obtrusive, good acidity and deep black concentrated fruit. Excellent. 90 points

Chateau Langoa Barton 1999, St Julien (£61.85)

My introduction to top quality Bordeaux. Black currant and cassis, I now understand pencil shavings. A bit of greenness, peppers and eucalyptus – lovely nose. Lovely freshness and cassis, with graphite and a slightly herby touch. Fresh, lively, lovely integrated tannins. Lacking a bit of concentration – not quite delivering on the promise but good length and delicious. 93 points

Nicolas Rossignol Aloxe Corton 2010 (£27.25)

We actually visited Nicolas the day after this wine had been bottled and he had already sold out so get your hands on a couple of these quickly! This is a beast! Deep and brooding, concentrated nose. Leather and damp leaves, almost pruney and olive-like; smells very evolved for 2010. In the mouth it’s almost northern Rhone in intensity. Plums, very dark fruit and massive concentration. Unexpected, big, big wine. This is going to be amazing in a couple of years. Was even better the following day (how did it last that long in our house??) 94 points

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