Aldi Wine Club Taster

Aldiwineclub logoThis 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.

Along with the wines, we’ll also send you a selection of tasting notes to help guide you through your wine tasting journey, as well as handy hints and tips to help you with your monthly reviews.’
I’m no stranger to Aldi wines and have been enjoying them now for a while and on the whole it’s been a pleasurable experience so I was excited to receive the first couple of wines. They arrived well packaged and protected and when opened I found a French Malbec and a Australian Rose, a good start.
The Malbec was a Vignobles Roussellet and the rosé was a Kooliburra from south eastern Australia.
So here are my thoughts in a bit more detail as it’s very hard to limit your review into a 140 character tweet.
Aldi MalbecVignobles Roussellet Malbec    My Rating 8/10 Corks
This is a cracking wine and at £4.39 a bottle a real genuine bargain . A French Malbec (with a touch of Merlot) with no vintage on the label, bursting with juicy blackberries,  blueberries, hint of spice, some sweetness and a little gamey. This is a uncompletcated easy drinking Malbec that is a Decanter Bronze medal winner and an International Wine Challenge winner in 2014 and for a change a wine that lives up to its awards especially considering the price.
Kooliburra Rosé    My Rating 7/10 Corks
I admit to not drinking a lot of rosé but every now and then I come across one that is pleasant enough and this falls into that category. This is a bottle from South Eastern Australia, again no vintage Quite a darkish salmon pink colour with aromas of Summer fruits especially strawberries and raspberries.
The strawberries follow through on the palate with a hint of creaminess, nice texture with a sweetness but not overly sweet or cloying.
Well chilled on a summers day this may well convert non rosé drinkers, I thought is was pretty good and so did everyone else around the table who tasted it.

Your wine friendly local Co op

Linda Mora MalbecThe local Co op, great if you need a quick loaf of bread, some milk or butter but what about a nice red, a chilled white or a celebratory fizz. It may not be everyone’s first stop when looking for a bottle of wine although judging on what I have bought recently maybe it should be.

I regularly use my local Co op for those forgotten essentials and I regularly find myself heading down their wine aisle. It’s not a big shop by any means but it does have a brilliant selection of wines, anything from a cheap midweek quaffer’s to premium fine wines.

The other day I popped in for a French stick and came out with an Argentinian Malbec. It was the strangely named ‘Linda Mora’ which sounds more like a singer songwriter. The multiple award stickers plastered over the bottom of the bottle may have swayed my choice but as it turned out it was inspired and at a reasonably priced £6.99 a bottle.

Vibrant cherry red colour in the glass with heady aromas of ripe, rich dark plums, raspberries vanilla and smoke. On first sip it was quite sweet bordering on being jammy with the dark plummy fruits dominant, there was a touch of cinnamon and vanilla. There were tannins but fairly mild and a lovely smokiness about it.

Maybe be a bit of a fruit bomb to some but I really enjoyed it with my burger and chips and for £6.99 I would say good value, they also had a Linda Mora Shiraz which I will be going back for at some time.

Coop wines1Check back to one of my previous posts about another couple of delicious Co op reds which I thoroughly enjoyed on the recommendation of Wine Writer Jamie Goode…Co op Double

So next time you need some butter or a loaf of bread and you have a Co op near you grab a bottle as well you may be pleasantly surprised.



My rating 7.5/10 corks


Fantastic Co-op double

Coop wines1We have a small store close by which we use for bread, milk and the odd things we forgot in our main weekly shop. I always wander down their wine section  and occasionally buy the odd bottle of wine which on the whole, so far, have all been pretty good.

I used to get some nice bargains in my local Co op on some of the better quality wines sometimes even getting them for less than half price but recently they seemed to have become a little more savvy in their pricing now only offering one or two pounds discount, still a discount is a discount.

Spotted these two wines after a little prompt on Wine writer Jamie Goode’s blog in his article about the latest Co op press tasting where he listed around 7, in his words ‘Nice affordable wines’.

Firstly the Cotes du Rhone ‘La Grange St. Martin’ 2014. This had a fairly muted nose but there was some berries and a hint of smoke. The taste is where this really shone, fresh cherries, bramble fruit, bright acidity, ash, white peppery spice and a savoury finish. Held up well on second day showing more savouriness, an altogether delicious bottle for £6.99.

Secondly the Trapiche Pure Malbec 2014, this is an unoaked Malbec hence ‘Pure’ on the label. Shared this bottle with family and friend. Very dark in colour, blackberries, blackcurrants and dark cherries on the nose. The first sip hits you like a sledgehammer, intense fruit, dry, mild dusty tannins but it’s the cherries that really come through and caused one of our tasters to cry out ‘Wow ! that’s really fruity, very nice !’ and it was, hence the bottle emptied pretty quickly. A little more expensive at £8.99 but worth every penny.

La Grange St. Martin – Cotes du Rhone 2014


My Rating 8/10 Corks    Co op £6.99


Trapiche Pure Malbec 2014


My Rating 8/10 Corks    Co op £8.99


Three supermarket wines

TaleofthreewinesThis is a quick tale of three wines in which two of them prove, if you look hard enough amongst the supermarket shelves, there are bargains to be had.

The three supermarkets which have the starring roles in this tale are as they say ‘in no particular order’ Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Aldi.

Starting with the Tesco McWilliams Hayfield Pinot Noir 2013 (£5.49). Looks like it’s currently unavailable online but there was still plenty on the shelves when I bought this. Produced by McWilliams, imported and bottled in the UK. The first thing that struck me about this when poured was how incredibly translucent it was. There was the typical Pinot aromas of Cherries and a touch of mushroom but the taste kind of let it down, lacking in fruit and a little thin in texture with noticeable tannins and a slight acidic aftertaste. Not too bad, nothing to get excited about but it is only £5 a bottle.

Next is the Marques De Almeida Ribera del Duero 2010 (£8) Now this is a different beast altogether from Northern Spain and part of the Sainbury’s’ Taste the difference’ range, a beautifully rich dark purple Ribera del Duero with heady aromas of blackberries, plums, cherries and vanilla. From the first sip it’s typically Spanish, rich, succulent, full of ripe dark berries, tannic and oaky. Well worth the £8.

Finally there is the Vignobles Rousselllet Malbec (£4.39) from Aldi. A French Malbec (with a touch of Merlot) bursting with juicy blackberries and blueberries, hint of spice and a little gamey. This is a uncompletcated easy drinking Malbec that is a Decanter Bronze medal winner and an International Wine Challenge winner in 2014. This is a real cracking wine and cheap as chips, stock up !



McWilliams Hayfield Pinot noir  (Tesco- £5.49)

My Rating 6/10 corks



Marques de Almeida RdD (Sainsbury’s £8)

My Rating 8/10 Corks



Vignobles Roussellet Malbec (Aldi £4.49)

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Best value for money was the fabulously easy drinking Aldi Malbec, followed by the intensely rich Ribera Del Duero from Sainsbury’s and lastly the disappointing but still drinkable Tesco Pinot Noir.

A hugely entertaining Malbec Masterclass

Graffignalogobuddha bar 16I enjoy writing about wine, I’m certainly no expert but what have is a real passion for drinking the stuff (very important) and learning as much as I can in the process. It certainly has its rewards and I have been lucky enough to be invited to some wonderful events meeting wine makers, writers, critics, as well as other wine geeks.

A few weeks ago I got an email from Graffigna, Pernod Ricard UK’s leading Argentinian Malbec, asking if I would like to attend an evening at the Buddha Bar in Knightsbridge London which was the venue for a ‘Malbecs of Argentina Masterclass’ in partnership with Decanter and Riedel.

buddha bar 11Buddha bar1


On arrival we were greeted with a chilled glass of Graffigna Torrontes, accompinied by some wonderful Canapes. The Torrontes seemed to be well received by all, pale yellow in colour with perhaps a hint of green, very hard to see as the venue was pretty dark.

Very perfumy on the nose, full of rose petals and lime. That perfume floweriness continued in the taste, lovely and soft and fantastic with the asian food being handed out in quantity.

Left to right, Patricio & Federico

After a glass or three of the Torrontes we were all ushered into a private room for the main event. Acclaimed wine critic Patricio Tapia and Graffigna wine ambassador Federico Lleonart were the South American double act presenting the ‘Malbecs of Argentina Masterclass’. Between them they gave us a brief history of Argentinian Malbec explaining all the main wine-producing areas. The talk was both entertaining and informative and helped by the five wines we were given to taste along the way.

1- Etchart Malbec 2013 (Salta) Unoaked, entry level, bright acidity, spice and ripe dark fruits 14%

2- Graffigna Centenario Malbec 2013 (San Juan) touch of French oak, tannic, spice, dark berries, floral 14.5%

3- Chateau de Gaudou Malbec 2013 (Cahors, France) Blended with Tannat, little harsher, vegetal, acidic, 13%

4- Catena Malbec 2013 (Mendoza) Peppery spice, Blackberry, blackcurrant, Vanilla, elegant, 13.5%

5- Graffigna Grand Reserve Malbec 2011 (San Juan) Elegant, ripe dark cherries and blackcurrant, more complex, 14.5%

buddha bar 14

Cabernet glass on left, Riedel Malbec glass on right.







All of the wines were different and enjoyable,  the Catena and both the Graffigna’s  were the stand out wines for me and it was nice to taste the French Cahors for contrast.

During the final tasting we were asked to compare the same wine (Graffigna Grand Reserve)  in a standard Cabernet Sauvignon glass and the new Riedel Malbec glass to see if we could notice a difference. I must admit I was sceptical about this but I was happy to be proved wrong and I was. The Malbec glass definitely had more intense aromas and taste the wider Cabernet glass which was fairly muted on the nose.

In the words of Federico ‘What makes this glass perfect for Malbec? The wider bowl and the narrower rim heighten and concentrate the aromas, particularly the red and black fruit notes. As you sip, the narrow rim directs the wine to the center of the tongue, targeting specific taste buds and sensations.’ I must admit, I agreed 100%

After the hugely entertaining Masterclass, we were served a Steak dinner and served the wine of our choice, mine was the Graffigna Grand Reserve 2011 , generously, two full bottles were left on our table along with Graffigna Centenario Reserve 2013 and a Etchart Malbec 2013, all were polished off.

Buddha bar4buddha bar 18














A big thank you to Graffigna, Decanter, Riedel and Pernot Ricard for the generosity. fantastic night, fantastic guests, great venue and even got a Riedel Malbec glass as a gift to take home.

buddha bar 17

Buddha Bar 3

Trivento Reserve Syrah Malbec 2010

Triventosyrahmalbec(450 x 600)Argentina 14%

After a bit of a disaster with my last bottle it’s was time for something more reliable and who better to turn to than the consistently good and excellent value for money, Trivento.

The bottle I went with was the Syrah, Malbec Reserve 2010 and having already tasted quite a few of their range from the entry level Malbecs through to the excellent Golden Reserve I was hoping that this bottle would fit the bill.

When poured it was very dark purple in colour, strikingly dark actually with aromas of ripe sweet plums with cherries giving it an almost Kirsch like flavour. There was also an earthiness there, vanillary oak and some smoke. Taking a sip the dark fruits dominate mixed again with a little earthiness, the tannins are noticeable and grippy, stewed prunes come through and there’s a little smokiness in the background.

This was a very enjoyable glass of wine, full of character and some depth of flavour and although Trivento is a large commercial player and is widely available the quality of their wines for the price are very good and I have never been disappointed.

I turned to Trivento as I knew it would be reliable and the fact that it happened to be at the front of my wine rack and easy to get to but unlike my last bottle of wine which I tipped down the sink, the only time this got near the sink was to rinse the empty bottle and wash the glass.

8corksMy Rating 8/10 Corks

Various around £8


Finest Argentina Mendoza Malbec & Finest Swartland Pinotage

malbecpinotage(450 x 600)Argentina 13.5%

South Africa 14%

I’ve been spoilt lately drinking some pretty decent wines but the last couple have been a what I would call a ‘safe nice’ and the other ‘kinda nice’ but not as safe.

The two bottles in question are an Argentinian Malbec and a South African Pinotage, both from the Tesco Finest range.

The Malbec was by far the better of the two and although not a dinner party wine it was perfectly acceptable for a midweek tipple and I enjoyed it. Actually bought this a while back when it was on special offer, think I paid around £5 and at that price it was hard to be overly critical.

When poured it was a very inky and vibrant in the glass, with pronounced aromas of rich dark plums and berries. Taste wise – quite sweet, dare I say it, jammy but a nice jammy. Dense flavours of berries, plums, smooth dark chocolate, a little tannic but still with a fairly smooth taste and longish finish.

As I said earlier, this was a safe even enjoyable wine, for around £5-£7 no real complaints and even my son who is not a wine drinker nodded his head in approval when poured a glass.

Now the South African Pinotage was a little different, I know this grape is not to everyone’s liking and I’ve heard it called the ‘Marmite grape’ (you either like it or you don’t). I’m firmly in the ‘like it’ camp although this particular bottle didn’t quite hit the spot.

Not as earthy or smokey tasting as some Pinotages, this one having more of a fruitier tang to it. Lightish in colour with aromas of cherries mainly and with a slight whiff of mocha.
Quite a big mouthful of chocolate and cherries but with that tang I mentioned earlier, no real earthiness to speak of and my wife who tried it with me pulled a face on first taste and ended up not finishing the glass. I on the other hand did finish my glass followed by another couple and with food it was ‘kinda nice’ but perhaps a little too tangy for me to really give it the thumbs up.

7corksTesco Finest Mendoza Malbec £6

My Rating 7/10 Corks


5.5 corksTesco Finest Swartland Pinotage

My Rating 5.5/10 Corks