It’s time for Lidl’s latest ‘Wine Tour’ hitting UK stores. Every two months a themed batch of wines is brought into shops, most of them one-off parcels that are sold on a ‘when it’s gone, it’s gone’ basis. I sampled seven wines from the event which kicks off on Thursday 24th September 2020 and lasts as long as stocks do. It was supposed to be eight wines, but one did not arrive on time, however, there is plenty of recommendable stuff in the seven wines reviewed below, all come from France, which is this tour’s theme. Nice to see slightly less obvious appellations like Savoie, Muscadet, Faugères and Jurançon represented too. My top picks? White: the Savoie for its charm, red: the Juliénas for its style, and the Champagne gets an honorable mention too.
(2020) Fruit for this wine comes from the vineyards rated as Premier Cru, though I have little information on the blend or the specific vineyards that are the source of the fruit. It pours with a nice steady stream of small bubbles and pale colour, and an appealing biscuit and vanilla note to citrussy fruit. On the palate the dosage feels relatively high to me - a hint of sweetness even against the copious lemon jelly fruit and acidity - but it is stylish and easy to drink, and gets a thumbs up from me as a good buy at the price.
(2020) The 'Sur Lie' bit means the wine has been aged on its 'lees', the spent yeast cells that gather post-fermentation, to add texture and richness. Crunchy apple fruit on the nose, lemon, showing just a hint of the briney character of these seaside wines. On the palate it has surprisingly sweet fruit: wines of this appellation can often be bone-dry, being all about the salty, chalky dry minerality that is heaven-sent for shellfish and seafood, but this has upfront fruit, edging into the tropical spectrum. A hint of sweetness to the finish is swept up in good acidity, so it does finish with clarity.
(2021) In the east of France, close to the Swiss border, Savoie is a mountainous area that is relatively unfamiliar name on UK wine shelves, so nice to have this example from Lidl. Grapes in the blend are unidentified, but almost certainly include a high proportion of Jacquère, the dominant local variety. With only 11.5% alcohol, it's a delicate, very fresh and very charming wine, the nose all orange blossom and peach down, the palate filled with sweet pear juice and peachy fruit, light-bodied and almost weightless, with a dry finish as decent acidity kicks in.
Rosé and Red
(2020) A certified organic Provence rosé for less than £7.00 is an intriguing prospect, but I confess this wasn't one of my favourites from this small selection. A moderately pale colour, the nose offers small red berries and a faint touch of the lavender or thyme that one one hopes for, but the palate was much sweeter than would be typical, and that threw the wine's slight sense of dilution into sharp relief. I don't know how much residual sugar this has, but though quaffable enough it didn't push the bone-dry Provençal buttons that I personally look for.
(2020) Faugères is one of the classic appellations of the Langeudoc. It's easy to forget Faugères, Corbières, Minervois and the rest since the IGP Pay d'Oc became so ubiquitous, but they produce some very good wines from tradtional varieties of the south like Syrah, Grenache and Mourdvèdre. This is smooth, direct and nicely fruited on the nose, with blueberry and damson plum. On the palate it's a savoury and quite concentrated wine, with compact black fruit that stays tightly focused, finishing with good balance.
(2020) Part of Lidl's 'Wine Tour' in Autumn 2020, this is Cru Beaujolais (so coming from Juliénas, one of the best villages), and is 100% Gamay planted on granite soils. Fermentation here was traditional, rather than the carbonic maceration technique of many Beaujolais wines, and the colour is deep and vivid. Aromatically, the wine is lovely: vine fruits, blackcurrant and plum are quite glossy, the profile sleek. In the mouth there is excellent fruit sweetness and depth of flavour. Medium-bodied, the tannins are soft but supportive, and the acidity is very nicely balanced. A ripe and satisfying Gamay this, and one of my top picks of this selection.
(2020) The producer and grape varieties of this semi-sweet wine from the Southwest of France are not stated, but it will almost certainly be made from Gros Manseng, possibly blended with Petit Manseng, the stalwarts of the Jurançon region. The nose offers an inviting ripe Ogen melon aroma, and a little wisp of leafy green herbs. In the mouth there is definite sweetness, but its not fully pudding-sweet, certainly a late-harvest rather than a Botrytis style. Fig and pear, a limey citrus acidity keeps it fresh in a wine for lighter fruit desserts, cheeses or possibly even with Oriental food.