Nearly a full year after I first joined up with the Aldi Wine Club to review half a dozen bottles in their 7th panel, I’m very pleased to once again be linking in with them for their 13th panel. In a happy coincidence, the first wine I’m trying is the sister act to the first wine I ever reviewed for them; the Vignobles Roussellet Malbec.
As a quick reminder for anyone not familiar with the club, every other month Aldi select 30 would-be wine experts to become their next tasting panel. Each month over the following 3 months you are sent two bottles to taste and rate. You’re free to be as honest as you want with the wines, and they won’t stop sending them to you if one isn’t to your taste. All you need to do is be prepared to share your views via social media.
Applying to be on the panel is free and you can find all of the application details here (UK only).
Here’s my thoughts on the first two wines that I have been sent for this 13th panel.
Vignobles Roussellet Sauvignon Blanc, France, 11.5% £4.49
Reminding myself of my notes on the Merlot I tasted a year prior, one of the first things I mentioned was that the bottle came under screwcap (largely not favoured by the traditionally led French) and didn’t feature either a production year or a region of production other than the general label of ‘France’.
All of this is exactly the same for this Sauvignon Blanc, but a tiny note on the back label and a Google later tells me that this wine was produced by Grands Chais de France (LGCF), who partner smaller winegrowers all over France and have access to some 2,000 hectares of vines.
In colour this is a medium lemon yellow with golden tints to the rim. Even before I am six inches close to the glass I’m greeted by a fully fragrant nose of green, be it lime, apple flesh or grassy florality. There’s also touches of yellow tropical fruit in the form of pineapple and melon.
On the palate you are immediately hit by a big dash of lime and an overwhelming sense of bright sun ripened fruit. There’s a good medium weight, full of creamy, fleshy, tropical fruit (distinct melon), along with both pink grapefruit and satsuma on the end palate.
Along with a refreshing and precise acidity, the creamy lime carries on for ages and is incredibly satisfying. With such a lovely, focused and textured wine of multi-layers it is hard to believe that such a full package can be achieved at just 11.5% alcohol. There is absolutely no restraint in character and this in itself is a revelation.
This is amazingly good value at £4.49 and I would happily pay twice the price for it. An easy wine to recommend, and by the time you read this I will probably have bought some more.
Castellore Pinot Grigio Blush 2015, Veneto, Italy, 11.5%, £4.29
Usually each panel will pair off a red and a white wine but this month, for whatever reason (I’m assuming low stock/supply issues as the bottle currently shows ‘unavailable’ on the Aldi website), a Chilean Malbec was set aside to make way for this Italian Rosado. This bottle hails from the Veneto in north-eastern Italy which is the heartland of Pinot Grigio production.
I was trying this wine on one of the handful of nice sunny days we’ve seen this year, and with the bottle up to the light the medium farmed salmon pink seemed almost luminous. The nose was a bit more subtle and I spent a little time trying to draw something out other than the red fruit that you would expect. Apart from being able to discern that there was a healthy amount of redcurrant alongside the expected strawberry, my conclusion was that this wine was all about the pure up-front fruit.
The palate hovered somewhere between light to low medium weight, and continued the red fruits found on the nose. There were also good traces of the classic Pinot Grigio characteristics coming through, with an abundance of pear and green apple. If there was any peach in place it was sucked in to the general red fruit medley, but overall this was fleshy and fruity.
Sadly this was where the problems began and, when pitched against the high acid, the singular fruits felt a little too sweet for me. It isn’t, of course, a sweet wine, but the perception was further highlighted by the lower alcohol level of 11.5%. As a result, much of the guts and weight were missing for me, and the finish was fairly short.
In the spirit of finding a way of balancing things out I decided to leave the bottle out of the fridge to warm it a touch, even though fully chilled is recommended. Whilst this did shave a bit of the harshness off of the acidity, the overall whole still felt pretty water thin, and perhaps it is one to retry with food? I’m not 100% what was vintage about this wine, and would think that it was in no way different to the style produced every other year.
Even though the sun was out whilst I tried the bottle it wasn’t that warm and, knowing that Rosé/Rosado wines fair better in the summer, perhaps Aldi shouldn’t have bought this bottle forward from the later delivery?
With thanks to Aldi UK for the bottles used in this tasting.