Aldi Wine Club 16th Tasting Panel – Note #6

The final wine from the 16th Aldi Wine Club panel is a red from Costiéres de Nímes in southern France.  Historically part of the very large ‘catch-all’ Languedoc appellation which produces wines from a myriad of different grapes and in varying styles, it now comes under the wing of the neighbouring Rhone appellation.

Aldi Costiere

With a style of wine very similar in nature to those produced in the southern Rhone, this makes absolute sense.  The Mediterranean climate is warm and sunny, which allows the grapes to fully ripen, the sugars to maximise, and the winemaker to deliver a powerful wine.

Venturer Costiéres de Nímes 2016, France, 14%, £5.49

Produced under the branding of Aldi’s ‘Venturer’ range, the striking blue label is well presented, with a pretty (almost gift-like) design carried from the main label through to the neck covering.  In a similar style to the wines of nearby Cháteauneuf du Pape the bottle has some wonderful embossing that delivers a true air of elegance and value.

Costieres Detail

A nice further subtle packaging touch comes from the side of the cork, which is proudly branded ‘Valle du Rhone’.

In colour this is a dark and inky black wine immediately drawing you towards the notion that this is made in a full and chunky style.  A light youthful purple rim offsets the almost opaque centre colouring.

On the nose there are densely packed well ripened, almost raisined, fruits.  Wild black cherry is inter-mingled with blackberries, prunes and herbaceous brambles.  On top of this there are the floral touches of both vanilla and violets as well as the darker notes of black coffee.  This is stacked full of intensity.

The palate deals well with the stewed nature of the darker fruits, and the wine is dense but not chewy, thick but not cloying.  Lots of pepper spice is dotted throughout like a well-seasoned Merlot or Shiraz, and counter-balances the sheer volume of ripe fruit.

Aldi Costiere Back Label

The acidity comes in on the lighter side of medium attempting to tame the beast and, to me, feels just a touch too light to allow the palate to be 100% balanced.  As such, the stewed fruit still manages to carry a touch of harshness as well as ripeness.

As suspected, a little time in the glass allowed the depth to evolve further and smooth out the rough edges, even allowing a little light grain tannin to appear from within the dominant fruit.  The overall sensation was rustic, powerful, but perhaps, just looking for a little finesse to top it off.

I suspect that may well come with a perfect food to match up to the robust style, so if you’re looking for a wine to partner up with some serious meats, stews, or other winter warmers, it would well be worth giving this wine a try.

With Thanks to AldiUK for supplying the bottle used in this tasting.

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Laithwaites Autumn Press Tasting – Standout Whites and Reds

Further to a previous blog where I highlighted the best Sparkling wines on display at the recent Laithwaites Autumn press tasting, here’s my top highlights from the red and white wines on show.

laithwaites-trade-autumn

White Wines

Tiago Cabaco Encruzado 2014, Alentejo, Portugal, 13%, £12.99

I must have visibly lingered over this wine a little too long as the wine buyer came over to chat to me about it.  Winemaker Tiago is only in his mid-thirties, and this is his signature eponymous bottling which is limited to about 2000 bottles.

The blend is pretty unique and perhaps one that people will either like or hate, with traces of minerality alongside wood notes and a salty finish.  There’s a good warmth from the alcohol and a long length, and it has the right structure to pair well with food.

Savage White 2015, Western Cape, South Africa, 14%, £27.50

I adore nice touches to a wine’s presentation and the old-school wax seal on this bottle looks great, as does the minimalistic label.

savage-white

The new world sunshine gives you lots of well ripened tropical and gooseberry fruit here, and a lovely smoky finish sets it off perfectly.  This is another white that would be greater with food as it has tons of power to match up to the flavours, whilst not being over-powering to drink on its own.

Newton Johnson Southend Chardonnay, South Africa, 13%, £14.99

Hailing from a family run winery, this has a lovely spicy creamy nose and bags of creamy flavour on the palate.  The lemon citrus plays the central role but there are also traces of orange peel and white pepper spice.

Rounded off with a good long finish this is great at this price point, but sadly not available through Laithwaites.co.uk at this time.

Red Wines

Chateaux Sixtine 2014, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France, 15%, £30

This Grenache based blend had a rich blackcurrant nose and was absolutely rammed full of spice, cassis, mocha and chocolate.  Warmth from the alcohol and a grippy tannin keep this wine happily lingering in the mouth for a long time.

Again this is another wine that is unavailable from Laithwaites at this time.

Chateau Belgrave 2000, Haut-Médoc, 5éme Cru Classé, France, 13%, £45

Inky dark in colour, this Cabernet based blend had an intense nose of bitter chocolate.  Alongside the blackcurrant and spice there remained a generous acid matching well with the grippy tannins.

chateau-belgrave

The finish was rounded and refined if not a little too short.  In fairness this is perhaps to be expected from a wine of this age, and it was tasted alongside a lot of youthful wines on the day.  Although great, this feels like a wine to drink sooner rather than later, so grab it while you can.

Gran Fontal Syrah 2008, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain, 15%, £28

Using grapes grown at an altitude of 830m this cheery wine packed a decent weight punch and balanced it’s powerful black cherry and spice with a vanilla note and a lovely fresh acid.  For a wine with 15% alcohol this kept it mouth filling and not overpowering.

Alongside the core fruit I could also detect traces of herbal tea and menthol so there’s a good degree of complexity to be found from the 8 years of age. Points are deducted for the heavy glass bottle but loads of bonus points are given back as this is currently down from £28 to £12.99 on Laithwaites.co.uk.

Vina Tondonia Reserva 2003, Rioja, Spain, 13%, £28

The colour of this 13 year old wine was moving towards garnet and the nose has picked up tertiary tea-like characters.  The acid is still fresh though and ensures that this is an easy drinking refreshing wine with mature character.  I doubt this will last much longer so it’s one to drink soon.

As you can see there were certainly some impressive wines on display although a few are frustratingly not currently available.  At an event level, what I did find incredibly interesting was the lack of the wines that Laithwaites frequently laud as their ‘Customer Favourites’ – the likes of Black Stump, Il Papavero, Calabria etc.

None of these wines made an appearance and I was unable to source any member of the team on my way out to find out exactly why.

The range on offer certainly made me re-evaluate my thoughts towards Laithwaites and, although I have widely blogged about my wine-plan wines and their Premiere range, this felt like a company that I had only barely scratched the surface of.

I’ll certainly be paying more attention in the future.

With thanks to MHP Communications and Laithwaites for inviting me to this event.

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