For example, its red Sancerre was a real surprise, and so is the Greek Assyrtiko. As well as having plenty of wines at everyday prices, Aldi is now managing to stretch up the price range while still offering value for money.
In contrast, Marks & Spencer, which for decades has shown brilliant range diversity and attention to detail, although sometimes at a price, has now embraced the value end of the wine world, while still keeping the usual M&S standards high.
I am reliably informed that these wines will not go through the usual up and down of promotional pricing, so you can go and buy them right now without the worry that they will be cheaper next week. The other major factor is that these wines do not appear on its website, so you will have to don your face mask and step inside the store to get them. Alternatively you can wait for Ocado to start delivering M&S products on September 1 and you will find that you can order these wines, too.
With this slightly confusing situation, as each retailer treads on the other’s home ground, I rounded up a selection of new wines from each to find out how they measured up in the flavour for money stakes. Here is my choice of the best.
La Dame en Blanc, Terres du Midi, 2019, France, Marks & Spencer, £6: Terres du Midi is a new protected regional designation (IGP) that will gradually appear on more wine labels. It brings together the Aude, Hérault and Gard and means that the wine comes from that huge sweep of land from the Spanish border to Provence. This is a crisp white with green apple and peachy fruit with a twist of lime zest and a surprisingly long finish. Great with lightly spiced seared tuna.
Pinot Blanc 2018, Alsace, Pierre Jaurant, Aldi, £5.99: Maybe it is the tall green bottle, or the thought that the wine might be sweet, but Alsace wines are definitely underrated, which is why this one offers such terrific flavour for money. With floral aromas and a rounded, peachy, creamy palate, it is terrific teamed alongside risotto or grilled salmon.
Orvieto 2019, Italy, Marks & Spencer, £6: I love a straightforward, uncomplicated Orvieto. Made from local grape Grechetto blended with Trebbiano, it has a natural herby, nutty flavour backed by crisp citrus flavours. It goes perfectly with summer lunches, chicken salads and creamy pasta. In value for money terms, this hits the spot.
Specially Selected Viognier 2019, Kooliburra, South Eastern Australia, Aldi, £6.99: Viognier is a grape that almost went extinct. In 1970 there were just 11 hectares of Viognier left in the world, and these were in a small area of the Rhône. Then growers started to take it further afield and Australia has really taken this fruit-scented variety to heart. Bigger and fuller than the French style, this has distinct apricot fruit with a dusting of spice and a weighty, rounded finish.
Merinas 2019, Organic, Spain, Marks & Spencer, £7: This comes from an organic estate in the midst of La Mancha where rain is scarce and disease pressure is very low. Made from local grape Airén with Viura and Verdejo adding character, this is fresh with citrus notes, hints of peach and a zing of spice on the finish. Perfect with seafood.
Passerina 2019 Terre di Chieti, Italy, Marks & Spencer, £7: Possibly named after the sparrow Passero, which is fond of eating the grapes, Passerina also has a nickname which translates as “paying the debts”. Presumably this variety is a big producer of grapes and so helps pay the debts of the farmer. But times have moved on and farmers in this part of Abruzzo realise that they need to control yields to make good wine and this version is delightful. Delicate initially, it has a creamy rounded texture with peach and apricot flavours and a crisp finish.
Assyrtiko 2019, PGI Peloponnese, Greece, Aldi, £9.99: There’s a lot more to Greek wine than Retsina. Assyrtiko is a top-quality grape, lean, fresh and minerally, and this is a fine example. It comes from a single estate in the hilly, northern part of the Peloponnese and as you might expect from a wine made in the heart of the Mediterranean, it goes perfectly with shellfish.
Monastrell 2018, Baron Amarillo, Spain, Aldi, £5.99: Monastrell is the same as Mourvèdre, which means this deep-flavoured wine has bags of raspberry and bramble fruit with a twist of herbs and a touch of chocolate. Team with steak or duck.
La Dame en Rouge 2019, Terres du Midi, Marks & Spencer, £6: Full of ripe, juicy red fruits, this is light enough to cope with an hour in the fridge so it can be enjoyed in sunshine, alongside a barbecue.
Le Malbec du Pays d’Oc 2019, France, Marks & Spencer, £6: Malbec was growing in France long before Argentina adopted it, and this version is full of chewy, robust bramble fruit with a supple, sausage-friendly finish.
Specially Selected Grenache 2019, Kooliburra, South Eastern Australia, Aldi, £6.99 : Definitely one for the barbecue, this is a chunky, powerful, flavour-filled wine that will take on sausages, steak and sunshine. Made from handpicked grapes grown on old Riverland vines, it brings together the juicy raspberry-filled flavours of Grenache with notes of spice and a hint of violets.
Sancerre Rouge 2018, France, Aldi, £11.99: We all know of crisp, white Sancerre made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape but before phylloxera struck in the mid-1800s Sancerre was a red wine region. Made from Pinot Noir, this wine has the delicate, strawberry fruit of the grape, backed by a definite freshness of the Loire. Light enough to chill down and enjoy with fish.
Nautilus Rosé 2019, Greece, Aldi, £6.99: Fashionably pale in colour this is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and local grape Agiorgitiko. It has fresh citrus flavours overlaid with light red fruits and a savoury, almost salty note on the finish. Perfect for any sunny lunchtime.
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