(2017) It's pretty much unbelievable that this review covers a Champagne priced - for two days only - at only ¬£7.99 (2nd & 3rd September 2017). Though that's only a ¬£2 reduction on its regular price, this is a wine that has gone down very well on Lidl's stand at my Festivals of Wine, a bona-fide Champagne from the Lanson and Besserat de Bellefon stable, it is a blend of the three main Champagne grapes, and has a fine, lemony nose, just a trace of biscuity development and creaminess, then a palate that shows plenty of sweetness. It is presumably close to maximum dosage for Brut, but there's no denying its easy-drinking pleasures, the oranges and lemons freshness of the finish being absolutely correct. My score cannot reach the dizzying heights of Decanter magazine's 91/100, but with quite smart packaging and more than acceptable quality, it is an astonishing value Champagne that will not disgrace your dinner table. Be quick on the 2nd as I suspect it will fly off the shelves for those planning parties or fish and chip Fridays.
(2017) Who'd have thunk it? A fresh as a daisy, zipping and vibrant white wine from the baking heat of the Douro Valley, engine-room of big robust reds and, of course, Port. The secret here from Port maestros the Symington Family is altitude, grape choice, and early picking. A blend of aromatic varieties including Voishino, Malvasia and Moscatel, it has a heady perfume, all white flowers, tropical fruit and citrus - maybe even a hint of a Sauvignon-like elderflower in there too. The palate has a bit of weight, but lovely freshness, ensured by a grapefruity bite of acidity. Watch the video for more information and food-matching suggestions.
(2017) Another deeply-coloured wine, organic certified and coming from the traditional Corbi√®res appellation. It blends 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 20% Carignan and 10% Mourv√®dre, all aged in oak barrels, 60% of which were new. It's immediately serious and savoury on the nose, vinous and darkly-hued, with damson and black cherry, a wisp of smoke and a bit of graphite in there too. Solid and powerful in the mouth, the vanilla of the oak helps soften the tannins, but it is a structured wine, crying out for beef or lamb - either that or give it some time: the fruit, black olive savouriness, density of texture and structure suggest to me this will cellar well for five years.
(2017) This is 100% Pinot Noir and comes from a small producer in the very south of the region, currently in conversion to organic certification. The colour is deep and the most striking aspect of the nose is the briary, truffly, lifted cherry floral character that is reminiscent of Cru Beaujolais in a way, the palate showing delightful red fruit ripeness and freshness - cherry and raspberry - before a drying, savoury tannin, nimble acidity and a little smoothing from its time in large oak 'foudres' eases the finish. Serve it a little cool and it is a sheer delight.
(2017) This sparkling wine from the Loire Valley is an unusual Blanc de Blancs blend of Chenin and Chardonnay, made by the traditional method. Moderately small bubbles rise through the glass, and it is the fresh apple cut of the Chenin that dominates, before a little custardy infill from the ripe Chardonnay. In the mouth this has loads of flavour and fruit sweetness, though perhaps the mousse could be a little more fine. Tangy, with citrus and quite a vivacious feel, it drinks well and would be a fine aperitif fizz.
(2017) A really fresh and original take on Viognier from the high-altitude vineyards of Orange, not far from Sydney. This is a variety that can tend towards being overblown, with too much fat, ripeness and alcohol, but harvested here at just 11.5% it's like a turbo-charged Vinho Verde. A slight spritz added to that impression, but that may just be the extreme youth of this 2017 wine, as often a touch of C¬į2 shows through in newly bottled aromatic whites. Beyond that, lemon sherbet and a touch of juicy yellow apricot skins onto the palate that bursts with vivacious flavour, a touch of sweetness off-setting a big lemony core of acid. Rather delicious and the low alcohol making it so easy to drink - or pair with aromatic Oriental food perhaps?
(2017) This is a single vineyard Gavi, from one of the region's real white wine experts. Beautifully clean and clear on the nose, there's a sherbetty touch to crisp and cool apple, just a suggestion of something mineral and salty. In the mouth there is great concentration here, but zero gravity: it flows freely across the palate, taut apple and lemons, medium-bodied, but super clean and fresh in the finish again, ozone fresh, finishing long as it tapers to a point. A seriously good, subtle, but decisive Gavi.