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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Le Petit Ballon – Clos de l’ours Rosé Tasting

I was recently introduced to Le Petit Ballon, a French wine subscription service who have amassed over 40,000 customers, making them the number one choice in the country. Since their 2011 launch, this success has seen them expanding in to both Belgium and the UK in 2015 and, in the current age of ‘time-poor’ consumers favouring convenience at every step, monthly subscription boxes are booming.

In the UK wine market things remain fairly uncrowded with perhaps half a dozen players vying for your custom, and so it is a ripe time to be offering a new option.

Le Petit Ballon

The no-commitment service operates at two different price-points to ensure that you stay in control of the types of wines that you’d like to try.  Each monthly package consists of two full (75cl) bottles of wine and a full colour magazine (‘The Gazette’) telling you all you need to know about the wines you will be tasting.  Membership also brings the added benefit of receiving at least 20% off the range of artisan wines offered in their online shop, and this ensures that should you find your dream wine on the scheme, you’ll be able to order further supplies no matter how rare the producer.

The first package on offer is ‘Grape Expectations’ which focuses on showcasing great value wines from artisan producers you won’t find on the high-street.  The second, higher tier is the ‘Age of Raisin’ package, focusing on more prestigious labels.

All of the wines featured in the service have been personally selected by Jean-Michel Deluc, a former Sommelier Chef at The Ritz and a man with many other culinary credits to his name, so is a palate you can trust.

For summer 2016 Le Petit Ballon have just launched a new cache of Rosé wines, and I leapt at the chance to give one a try from producer Clos de l’ours.  Ours translates as ‘bear’ which is a nod to the bear-like qualities of winemaker Michel (who would easily be able to give you a bear hug) and he is also referenced in the name of the blend ‘Grizzly’ (Michel has a big beard!).

Clos de l’ours was founded in 2012 (although the vineyards have been in operation much longer) and whilst they are still in the early years of business they have a clear philosophy of how they want to farm their land.  Respectful of the existing vines being farmed organically since 2000, they continue to use minimal intervention in the wine-making process to allow nature to take its own course.

Le Petit Ballon 2

Clos de l’ours Grizzly Organic Rosé (blend) 2015, Provence, France, 14%, £13.90 (£11.90 to subscribers)

The colour of this wine is a pale-ish pink, conjuring up for me the colour of farmed salmon with hints of onion skin. It looks clear, clean, fresh and inviting, and the slate-grey colour of the label immediately sets off the pale colour of the wine superbly.  The blend is a veritable compendium of the classic southern french red grapes of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvédre, Carignan and Cinsault, with the addition of the white grape Rolle to finish it off.

The nose was nicely forthcoming and full of various red fruits, but in the main strawberries and redcurrant.  In addition to this there was a discernible dash of lemon citrus and a whiff of smokiness at the tail end.

The first thing I notice on the palate is the wonderful depth that the wine exudes, which is an instant hit of pure fruit and a silky creamy weight.  Once again the red fruits are clean, nicely ripe and balanced with a medium fresh acid that is present, but happy to let the juicy fruits come to the fore.  Once again we are mixing strawberry and redcurrants, with background notes of raspberry and pomegranate.

The finish is long and carried by the creaminess and the smoky salty minerality you always find in a decent Provence Rosé.

Even though this wine is all about showcasing well delivered pure fruit, there’s an inbuilt complexity that makes this absolutely worth the price.  In my search for more words to describe its creamy rich body I kept returning to the glass time and time again and, although I failed to find the words, I was still amply rewarded with a well-realised wine.

I absolutely look forward to trying other wines in the range, and indeed, others offered by Le Petit Ballon.  You can find out more, as well as getting more info on their subscription options by visiting http://www.lepetitballon.com/uk/

With thanks to Clementine Communications and Le Petit Ballon for the bottle used in this tasting.

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