(2019) From the Western Cape, this at first looks like another cutely commercial SB to please the masses, its label festooned with jokey cartoon sheep. And while the wine is indeed a crowd-pleaser, it's also cleverly made with partial skin contact and around 30% fermented in 500-litre French oak casks, to give a little more weight, texture and ultimate interest than many at this price point. An undertow of toast and nutty aromatics to the bright citrus fruit, the palate with a bit of real concentration and salty character adding to the sense of freshness and length. The name and those sheep? Apparently a herd of wandering sheep did some early-morning leaf thinning as they munched their way through the vineyards.
(2018) A dry Riesling from the limestone soils of the Pfalz, a warmer region than the Mosel or Rheingau, that gives this a certain fat, though it majors on lime-like fruitiness and citrus again in the acidity. It's Riesling expressing the fruitier and more vibrant side of the variety, crisply enjoyable though with litte in the way of 'mineral' character.
(2018) This eight-year-old Muscat from the Riverina region is a classic style, sweet, dark and sumptuous fruit is harvested very ripe, a little brandy added to fortify it, as in Port wine, before its long, long ageing in barrel. It is flooded with coffee, walnut and sweet, plump raisin aromas, but that lifted floral note of the Muscat is in there too. Thick and luxurious on the palate, there's loads of sweetness here, like sticky-toffee pudding in a glass, but underpinned by that sumptuous chocolate and coffee into a long finish, very nicely balance by a cherry-fresh acidity. Price for 37.5cl half bottle. Watch the video for more information.
(2018) When David Hohnen contacted me to say this wine he'd made had just gone into Aldi stores at £5.99 I just had to try a bottle. David's track record is formidable: the first winemaker for Cloudy Bay, on to Cape Mentelle, and now producing some fabulous wines under his own McHenry Hohnen label. To put a wine from premium Western Australia on the shelves for £5.99 is a coup, David explaining that the "South West Australia" designation allowed him to source fruit from an expansive area encompassing Margarent River, Mount Barker, Frankland River and many other appellations. It's a beautifully pitched wine, with a touch of pea-pod and nettle characater, but much more focused on the pure lime and luscious nectarine fruitiness, exotic touches of mango and lychee too, but the creamy-textured palate finishes on whistle-clean acidity. A terrific bargain really. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2015) Getting a wine on the shelves from the pricy Ribera del Duero is tricky, but getting such a good one must be trickier still. Liquorice, charcoal and smokiness, the fruit in the blackberry spectrum, but it is those dark notes that dominate. In the mouth this has plenty of dusty, dry tannins, but the intrinsic fruit depth is there, and the balance is good, giving this decent fruity and spicy length.
(2015) And yes it's two in a row for Aldi with this 14.5% Garnacha (Grenache) based wine. Tight kirsch and blackcurrant, the fine spice suggesting Sandalwood and delighfully balanced aromatic character. On the palate it is composed and beautifully fruited with a cleansing, crisp finish showing copious fruit but such a precise structure of tannin and acidity. Could cellar for a few years too.
(2015) Grenache makes up half the blend of this Aldi exclusive, along with Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Syrah and the seldom-seen Vaccarese. It weighs in with 14% alcohol. Schisty, raspberry-touched aromas have plenty of briar and earth, and there is a cool feel to this. There is a touch of chocolate on the nose too, and it has some spices to add complexity. The palate is rather lean, but it is juicy, and although there is a slightly stripped feel to this for some reason, that leanness does add to its sense of freshness into quite a tangy, bittersweet finish.
(2014) This Champagne, an equal parts blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, has been a value fixture of Aldi's shelves for a while now and it still represents superb value for money. It has an authentic nose, yeasty and brioche-like, with plenty of richness and development. In the mouth it is creamy and again quite delicate, the floral aspect hinted on the nose adding interest as the lemon meringue pie flavours are buttressed by good acidity. Of course there are more complex and sophisticated Champagnes out there, but at the price this remains hard to beat.
(2014) Bottled in a ship's decanter, so ready to grace the table immediately, this has a rich tawny colour and a pungent, powerful nose, the walnut and shellac, old polished wood character is authentic and lovely with raisin and coffee intensity and plenty of layered complexity. The palate has a lovely cut of Seville orange bittersweetness, scything through the toffee and mocha of the palate, with very good acidity and the soft brown sugar depth delightful. Balanced, serious and very fine.