This Month I have been lucky enough to be selected as an Aldi Wine Club Taster. This involves, in their words ‘ Every three months, we’ll be selecting 30 budding sommeliers to join the panel. If you’re chosen, each month for three months, we’ll send you two delicious wines to taste from our range and you’ll be tasked with reviewing each via a 140 character tweet using the dedicated #AldiWineClub hashtag.
Looking like a bottle found under a park bench this unusually packaged wine is certainly quirky and definitely stands out on the supermarket shelf but is it any good?
As some of my regular readers may know I belong to a small wine circle called Cuvée Reserve where once a month one of our members select a wine of the month which is easily accessible and under £10 for us all to review. This particular bottle is our March selection and is currently priced at £5.50 from Asda.
Farmers of wine is from the Puglia Region of Italy, a blend of Negroamaro, Zinfandel, locally known as Primitivo, Merlot and Nero d’Avola.
Ok, going back to my first question, is it any good?, for me for the price it’s a resounding yes!
This comes with a cork and has a very intense dark garnet like colour when poured. The nose is fairly muted although there is a hint of ripe dark plums and cherries. The first mouthful has those plums and cherries bursting with juiciness followed by a little dark chocolate. Slightly on the jammy side but not over the top, subtle tannins and a hit of pepper comes through on the finish. Left in the glass for a while everything softens ending up with a very drinkable Italian for not a lot of money.
I was a little bit sceptical when I saw the gimmicky bottle but rest assured there is nothing gimmicky about the wine, this is a very quaffable mid week drink with Pizza 🍕 or pasta 🍝 I enjoyed it and would probably buy again.
My Rating 8/10 Corks
Over the last week I have been to two very different but very enjoyable wine tastings, the first was the annual ‘Wines of Portugal Grand Tasting 2016’ and the second was a ‘Cuvée Reserve Tasting Weekend’
Cuvée Reserve is an online wine forum in which I and a group ex Tesco Wine Community members got together to continue the online friendships we had built up over the 3 years or so that TWC had been running.
The ‘Wines of Portugal Grand Tasting’ was a London trade and press show in which I was kindly given an invite to. Cuvée Reserve was a weekend away in Stratford-upon-Avon with a group of 10 friends who all share a passion for wine.
The Wines of Portugal Grand Tasting
Held at the Royal Horticultural halls in London where over a hundred producers were showcasing their wines. A big thank you to Brian Elliott of MidWeek Wines for inviting me on his behalf.
Not knowing a great deal about Portuguese wine what struck me most walking around tasting was the fabulous array of good quality affordable wines a lot of them in the sub £10 bracket.
The whites in particular impressed me especially the delightfully fresh and zingy Alvarinhos and one that stood out was the Muros de Melgaco 2014 Alvarinho from the vineyards on the south-facing hillsides of the Vinho Verde region, high in acidity and aged for 6 months in French oak. Dry, tasting fresh and very elegant, full of tropical fruits and a hint of honey and in a lovely looking bottle. This was probably one of my favourite whites of the day.
Other whites that impressed were the Quinta da Calcada Branco 2014 , Covela Edicao Nacional Avesso Vinho Verde DOC 2014 and the Vale Do Homem Loureiro 2015 all very good examples of fresh and bright wines from the Vinho Verde region.
Most of the reds were powerful beasts hailing from the Douro and Dao regions, a lot of these were dark and brooding high in alcohol and utterly delicious among the highlights was the excellent Quinta do Perdigao Touriga Nacional 2009, showing dark cherries and plums on the nose. Lovely structure. Dark ripe plums to taste and bitter dark chocolate with some spice on the long finish.
Others of note were the Valmonte Reserva Touriga Nacional 2010 and the Sao Matias Reserva Tinto 2011
Amongst the best value wines under £10 was the Opta Range (all around £8) all were fresh & bright tasting, I was quite impressed with their Opta Dao Rose 2015 (not being a big fan of Rose) but this had Raspberries and strawberries in abundance with a nice floral hit perfect for a summer picnic. I gave their Opta Dao Branco 2015 the big thumbs up as well. Most of the range was 13% alcohol.
Special mention for the Fonte do Ouro 2014 made from Encruzado & Arinto again around £8 this a pale green colour a lovely minerality and full of apples, pears and peaches.
Also very good value was the Terra de Lobos range.
Terra de Lobos 2015 (white) Perfumed floral and lots of tropical fruits made from Fernao Pires and Sauvignon Blanc.
Terra de Lobos 2015 (Rose) Crisp with strawberries and a Little toastiness, balanced acidity
Terra de Lobos 2015 (Red) Rich tasting, spicy
Big Shout for the Falcoaria 2014 white wine, this was seriously tropical, a little toasty and extremely nice, big 5 stars from me, again around £8.
Didn’t taste a lot of fizz but I must say the Almeida Garrett VEQPRD Beira Interior Brut Natural super Reserva 2010 seriously impressed, very biscuity and toasty and lots of fizzy bubbles, not cold enough but still tasted pretty good. Apparently rated 91 Points by Jamie Goode.
Finally one last white that I found just as I was leaving was the seriously impressive GURU 2014 made from the Rabigato, Viosinho, Codega de Larinho grapes an explosion of orchard fruits with a hebal twist, not particularly cheap at around £15- £20 but for me worth it.
So a brilliant days tasting that left me impressed by the quality and more importantly value for money of these great Portuguese wines.
Cuvée Reserve Wine Tasting Weekend at Stratford Upon Avon
Pick a place and a time, get ten people who love wine together in one place, get them each to bring a selection of wines and some food and you have got yourself a hell of a weekend and that’s exactly what it turned out to be.
We are all ex members of the Tesco Wine Community (TWC) where for three years or so we spent time online talking wine with some of us having met at various activities and events. So when Clare Hearnden who runs ‘Cuvée Reserve forum’ suggested a ‘Wine Tasting Weekend’ in Stratford -Upon-Avon the ten of us jumped at the chance. Clare found us the perfect location and perfect house, within walking distance of Stratford town centre.
The weekend was a real hit with everyone, very informal and friendly with some fantastic wines to drink. For the first night everyone brought along a selection of buffet food and the wines began to flow. The second night Clare kindly cooked a meal and more wine flowed.
All in all a fantastic weekend with good food, good wine and best of all good company, hopefully to be repeated again and again.
Alongside a clutch of Sparklers including Cono Sur Sparkling Pinot Noir from Chile, Prosecco, Cava and Champagne, our white wine selection included:
- Denis Dubourdieu 2010 Clos Floridene, Grand Vin De Graves (blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 47% Semillon, 3% Muscadelle), France, 13%. A nice chance to try a rare white example of Graves
- Symbiose La Grande Olivette, Cuvee Florence, Piquepoul, Sauvignon Blanc blend, Cótes de Thau 2014, France, 12%. Piquepoul is something of a recent trend in the UK, so this was an interesting one to try
- Karl Pfaffmann 2013 Weissburgunder, Trocken, Walsheim, Pfalz, Germany, 12.5%. The first of three wines sourced exclusively from Germany and rarely seen in the U.K.
- Karl Pfaffmann 2014 Riesling, Trocken, Walsheim, Pfalz, Germany, 12.5%
- Randersackerer Ewig Leben 2013er, Albalonga Auslese, Franken, Germany, 11%
- Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva 2015 Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley, Chile, 14%
- Alvi’s Drift 2015 Chenin Blanc, Worcester, South Africa, 13.5%
- Calvet Reserve 2013 Pinot Blanc, Alsace, France, 12.5%
- The Cup and Rings 2013 Godello Sobre Lias, Monterrai, Spain, 13%
- Ara Single Vineyard 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand, 12.5%
All the wines supplied were kept undisclosed to the other attendees prior to the day, and so it is interesting to notice the heavy red bias towards Spain. Our full selection comprised:
- Arjona (unoaked) 2014 Rioja (100% Tempranillo), Spain, 13.5%
- Club Des Sommeliers, Morgon (100% Gamay) 2014 Beaujolais, France, 12.5%
- J Opi 2014 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 13.5%. This wine was decanted to bring out the rich flavour
- Marques de Riscal Finca Torrea 2007 (Tempranillo), Rioja, Spain, 14%
- Cháteau Hervé Laroque 2007 (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon), Fronsac, France, 13%
- La Cantera Reserva 2007 (Tempranillo based blend), Carinena, Spain, 13%, (from magnum)
- Ermita de San Lorenzo 2008 Garnacha based blend, Rioja, Spain, 14%. Another one for the decanter
- Mayu Syrah Reserva 2011, Elqui Valley, Chile, 14.5%. This wine was again decanted to allow the rich flavours to mellow
- Piccini Memoro 2010 (Aglianico, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nero D’avola, Sangiovese blend), Regional blend across Tuscany, Basilicata, Veneto and Sicily, Italy, 14%. Decanted, but perhaps needed more time to open fully.
- Cháteau Valfontaine 2012 (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon) Bordeaux, France, 12%
- Stobi 2011 Petit Verdot Barrique, Tikves, Macedonia, 14%. A rare opportunity to try this wine.
- Campo Viejo Gran Reserva 2007 (Tempranillo), Rioja, Spain, 13.5%
- Les Vaucorneilles Cuvee Nathan 2005, Touraine, Loire Valley, France, 13.5% (Blend of Gamay, Cabernet and Cot)
- Vox Populi 2012 Bobal, Utiel-Requena, Spain, 14%
- Laurent Miquel L’Artisan 2014 (Syrah, Grenache), Faugeres, France, 13.5%