On the face of it, there’s little to choose between Lidl and Aldi. They are both as German as schwarzbrot, both discounters place value before beauty and both are serious threats to The Big Four: Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda and Tesco. More to the point, both have substantially upped the wine ante in the last couple of years with credible wine ranges increasingly appreciated by wine drinkers of all classes.
Where they differ however is in their approach. While Aldi maintains a strong no-frills range headed by its Exquisite Collection label, Lidl’s core range is supplemented by its one-off, Foire-aux-Vins-style seasonal ‘Collections’.
Indicating at its most recent press tasting that it’s increasing the number of its seasonal ranges, Lidl showed both its Easter Wine Collection, on shelf since Thursday, and its April Wine Cellar, due in store 21 April. Whites kicked off with a fine, rose-petal scented and delicate lychee flavoured 2014 Alto Adige Gewurztraminer, £7.99, and a rich, off-dry honeydew melon-like 2013 Neszmely Pinot Gris, Hungary, £6.79.
Finishing with a crisp, dry flourish, a rich, buttery 2014 Montagny Les Carlins, £11.99, is a more than respectable dry white burgundy, while the Cape delivers an approachably juicy 2015 Chenin Blanc-Viognier-Roussanne, La Méridionale, £5.49, and Australia a pleasingly floral , citrus-zesty 2015 Axis Clare Valley Riesling, £5.99.
While Spring may be in the air, reds here are broadly speaking better than whites, starting off with the dark cherry-fruity, refreshingly juicy 2014 Lagrein, Alto Adige, £7.99, an aromatic, moreishly strawberryish 2014 Morgon, Vignerons du Vieux Tinailler, £8.49, and a bright, violet-scented, cherryish 2012 Bodega Tonel, £5.99, Mendoza.
The 2014 Saint Joseph, £8.99, does the northern Rhône spice and pepper to perfection, while its southern hemisphere counterpart, a 2015 Foremost Hawkes Bay Syrah, £8.99, is a tad more pungently peppery with a fine savoury, mouthwatering fruit quality.
Pick of the bunch are a stylish St.Émilion-alike vanilla oaky, cherry juicy 2012 Lalande de Pomerol, Château Jean de Gue, £14.99, and a seductively exotic sweetie: the 2013 Tokaji Kesoi Arany Grand Selection, Hungary, £8.99, half-litre, oozing ginger-spicy pineapple and peach with a liquid toffee apple richness.
Something for the Weekend 5 March 2016
2014 Trebuchet Red, Western Cape
A Bordeaux-style blend of cabernet sauvignon franc and malbec, this bright fresh Cape red shows sweet cherryish aromas tinged with herbal notes while the vivid blackcurrant-juicy fruit makes for a moreishly juicy drink. £7.99, or buy 6 = £5.99, Majestic.
2014 Yabby Lake Red Claw Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir
Mornington Peninsula’s ocean breeze brings bright red berry fruits fragrance and a voluptuous, strawberry fruitiness to Tom Carson’s red with subtle oak spice and an elegant cool climate freshness. £14, down from £18, Marks & Spencer.
2014 Sancerre Les Boucauds, Claude Riffault
The restrained aromatics of this refreshing sauvignon blanc combine with a hint of gooseberry and pristine grapefruit zesty purity to make a steel-bladed, fish-friendly, bone dry Loire Valley white. £16.49 - 17.75, The Drink Shop, AG Wines. DVine Cellars.