My final review now for the Aldi Wine Club, and what better way to go out than with a bit of fizz!
When the French turn their hand to making sparkling wine outside of the delimited region of Champagne, it is known as Crémant. Made in exactly the same way as traditional Champagne, you get all of the skill but without the baubles of prestige that drive up Champagne prices the world over.
Eight French regions produce a Crémant including Limoux, Alsace and the Loire, but today we are headed to the Jura which is located on the mid-eastern side of the country between Burgundy and Switzerland. Although many Crémants use grape varieties not used in Champagne such Pinot Gris, Savagnin, Pinot Blanc or Riesling, today we’re trying one that is made with one of the thoroughbred Champagne varieties – Chardonnay.
Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura Chardonnay 2013, France, 12%, £7.29
Bottled under cork and muzzle exactly like its Champagne counterparts, this bottle has a very pleasing appearance, with it’s squat bottle reminiscent to me of the uber-expensive Champagne, Krug.
Crémant is made in a lighter style than Champagne but in many other respects the look is similar, and this wine is a lovely golden yellow in colour with fabulous small bubbles trickling their way from the bottom to the top of your glass. When some sparkling wines are falsely carbonated to give the fizz, the bubbles will be bigger (as in a can of fizzy drink) and noticeably ‘false’, so the fact that these bubbles are incredibly fine is a good marker.
On the nose I can pick up lemon citrus with a touch of lime zest as well as some honey and peach, white pepper spice and cream.
On the palate there is the citrus characters mentioned, which seem to now have more of a confectionate lemon curd quality. There’s also the fleshy notes of green apple and, more precisely, the apple pips. This quality hints to the fact that the fruit isn’t fully ripened, which isn’t something to worry about, but a fairly natural consequence of grapes grown in a marginal northern climate.
The wine is made in the dry Brut style which balances well with the medium acid levels. Underpinning the fruit you have the deep rich weight and texture of butter and cream coming from the Chardonnay grape, and also a slightly discernible light grip tannin. The weight is medium, and yet the wine is light and airy and the mousse completely quaffable prior to it dissolving in the mouth. The length is medium and the overall sensation is clean, refreshing and moreish.
It’s very weird to be saying this, but at £7.29 this fizz represents the most expensive wine I’ve been sent as part of the Aldi wine club. This is of course completely competitive alongside the price-point of both Prosecco and Cava, but when compared to virtually any Champagne (including those ‘on offer’), it is extremely good value.
The wine has also been especially well received with the critics and is the winner of several awards including a Bronze medal from Decanter, a Silver medal at the International Wine Challenge 2015, and a Gold medal at the IWSC (International Wines & Spirits Challenge).
As a reflection on the above bottle and indeed all of the others supplied by Aldi for this series of tastings, I can honestly say that the quality has been well above my expectations, and the prices substantially lower. My future wine-buying routine will well and truly be changed going forward and, even though I always look for merit in any wine no matter what it is, I would be being untruthful if I said that I wouldn’t have previously been distrustful or perhaps dismissive of a wine priced up at £3.79.
My eyes have truly been opened – Cheers!
With thanks to Aldi UK for supplying the bottle used in this tasting.