How Lidl is making its mark on the wine market

Christine Austin checks out the latest '˜pop-up' parcel of wines to hit the shelves at discount supermarket Lidl.

The wine shelves at Lidl.
The wine shelves at Lidl.

A fresh range of wines arrived on the shelves at Lidl yesterday and since they are all on a WIGIG basis (when it’s gone, it’s gone) it makes sense to head down to your local store sooner rather than later to pick up a few bargains.

Lidl has a main core of wines, but it refreshes its basics every couple of months with a “pop-up” parcel of wine that goes into all stores and sells through before the new parcel arrives.

In the last decade Lidl, together with its partner in crime, Aldi, the other German-owned discounter, has nibbled away at the market share of the big four supermarkets, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons. Now with around 4.6 per cent of the market, Lidl is snapping at the heels of Waitrose. Despite its reputation as a discounter, Lidl has made several quality statements with its range of wines, offering fine Bordeaux wines, Canadian ice-wine and Hungarian Tokaji in its wine parcels. This latest parcel, the French Collection, features just 42 wines and has been selected and bought by Lidl’s wine buyer, Anna Krettmann. The interesting fact about the Lidl buying process is that the retailer also has three Masters of Wine who don’t actually buy the wines, but they do taste and approve all new wines before they go on the shelves. This procedure gives a pretty good assurance of quality and style.

Alsace Pinot Noir, an unusual and delicious wine at Lidl.

I tasted all the new wines – here are my favourites.

Sparkling wines

Clairette de Die, Rhône, Cuvée Elegance 2015, £6.99: Made from the Muscat à Petits Grains and Clairette grapes, this is a naturally sweet, aromatic fizz that goes wonderfully with fruit tarts and cakes. Try it with Sunday afternoon tea.

Sparkling Vouvray, Loire, Philippe Deval NV, £7.99: Chenin-based, this is a creamy, honeysuckle, baked-apple and lemon style fizz with gentle bubbles and a good balance. It is dry with a fresh, clean line of acidity and goes perfectly with savoury dishes. Try it with chive and onion tart.

Alsace Pinot Noir, an unusual and delicious wine at Lidl.

Champagne Brut Rosé, Bissinger NV, £14.99: Good quality rosé champagne doesn’t have to break the bank. This one has lifted strawberry fruit with a gentle, creamy mousse and a fresh-tasting balance on the finish.

Champagne Premier Cru Brut, Bissinger NV, £15.99: Fabulous value in this rounded, stylish, ripe pears and toasted brioche Champagne. If you buy a few bottles now and tuck them under the stairs for Christmas time, the flavours should have filled out and developed even more.

White wines

Ch. Marjosse 2013, Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux, £7.99: Fresh, floral aromas with zesty, lemon-tinged flavours and a rounded, long finish in this Semillon/Sauvignon blend with just a splash of Muscadelle. The property is owned by Pierre Lurton, who is in charge of Yquem and Cheval Blanc, so his standards are high.

Domaine Saint Prix 2015, Saint-Bris Sauvignon, Burgundy, £8.49: This little corner of Burgundy is allowed to grow Sauvignon Blanc and it does it very well as this wine shows. Expect rounder, fatter flavours than most Sauvignons, but still with herbaceous notes and some minerally crunch. Terrific with creamy scallops or fish pie.

Viré-Clessé 2015, Bertrand de Monceny, Burgundy, £9.99: Bright, fresh-tasting Chardonnay with lemon, apple and honey notes and no visible oak clouding the palate. There is a streak of savoury nuttiness across the finish, making it good enough for Sunday lunch with fish, chicken and salads.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc 2015, Rhône, £11.99: It is good to see a wine of this quality in such a limited range. Made from a mix of southern Rhône varieties such as Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier, this has broad, almost savoury flavours with ripe pear, oats, vanilla and citrus. A terrific wine to team with roast chicken or creamy fish dishes.

Red wines

Pinot Noir 2015, Alsace, Jean Cornelius, £6.49: A really unusual wine and, at this price, definitely one to try. It is delicate, light in colour with light raspberry-edged flavours with good clean freshness on the finish. Enjoy it chilled with charcuterie, spiced prawns or slivers of duck with plum sauce.

Bourgogne 2014, £7.49: Seriously good Burgundy at a bargain price. It isn’t Chambertin, but it is true to type, with raspberry and redcurrant fruit. Try it slightly chilled. Soft enough to go with salmon.

Hautes-Côtes de Beaune 2014, Philippe de Bois d’Arnault, £8.49: A definite step up in quality with more fruit, depth and complexity, and a gentle, long finish. Try it with lamb or with dishes containing sweet peppers, porcini mushrooms and very light spices.

Ch. Roque le Mayne 2014, Castillon, Bordeaux, £8.99: This is a well-structured, almost grippy wine full of forest fruits with a touch of vanilla and oak. It will drink well at Christmas with a roast rib of beef.

Gigondas 2015, Rhône, Puech Morny, £9.99: Packed with damson and blackberry fruit and layered with peppery spice. Still quite chunky so match it with a meaty casserole or keep for a year or so.

Sweet wines

Domaine des Petits Quarts 2014, Coteaux du Layon, £7.49: Chenin-based, this is a light style of sweet wine, with lemon, honey and just a sprinkle of baking spices on the palate. More suited to fruit-based deserts than big puddings, or just drink it on its own, chilled, for a touch of sweetness at the end of dinner.

Domaine la Pléiade 1995, Maury, Languedoc Roussillon, £9.99: Get in the queue for this one right now. Full of gorgeous, deep, dark cherry and plum fruit with notes of herbs and seriously good chocolate in the mix. Serve with a chocolate dessert or snuggle up on the sofa with a movie and a box of your favourite soft-centres. Essential for Christmas week.

Ch. Menota 2015, Sauternes, Bordeaux, £9.99: A real pudding wine with the right depth of honeyed sweetness to go with fruit tarts, lemon meringue or a strawberry roulade.