Aldi Wine Club: Where Art Thou?

Regular readers may already be aware of the Aldi Wine Club, a 3 month long assignment tasting 6 wines exclusive to their range, and then writing up your thoughts to the wider Aldi community to help guide shoppers in the right direction with their purchases.

AWC Logo

Though I’ve participated in my fair share of panels, I ensure I step back from time to time to allow others a turn at playing wine somm.  I do, however, regularly keep an eye on their website to see how things are progressing.

Over the last few months this has been limited to the continued viewing of a holding page detailing that the hunt is on for the 18th panel, a search that allegedly commenced last December.

AWC June18

Clearly something has stalled, and knowing that the club is pretty unique amongst the supermarkets wine offerings, its closure would be a sad loss for UK wine drinkers.

It would be doubly sad too as it came along at just about the right time to replace the now defunct Tesco Wine Community.  In the case of Tesco, any non-core activities were set aside to repair the big holes in their balance sheet, and the musings of wine lovers were probably far down the list of essentials.

With austerity and shrinking sales still affecting everyone on the high street, I wondered how far down the Wine Club was on Aldi’s balance sheet.  I decided to find out.

The club was administered for Aldi by PR firm Clarion Communications.  Seeing that they had won ‘PR Company of the Year’ at this week’s Drinks Business awards, and are clearly still active in the wines and spirits sector, prompted me to get in touch to see what the current state of play is.

I had several contacts listed for them, each of which pinged me back saying that the email accounts no longer existed – not a good start.  I also reached out to Aldi directly who, in spite of my specific query, responded with the vague offer of passing my feedback to the ‘relevant teams’, and an equally unhelpful redirection to the holding page I had referred to in my enquiry.

A little despondent that clearly Aldi had no real firm grip on the status or plans, I was pleased to be able to connect with Becky at Clarion who was able to shed some more light on the situation.  She confirmed that the club hadn’t closed or been forgotten, just merely dropped down the immediate projects schedule due to some high priority work.

I’m glad to see that the door hasn’t been completely closed on the exercise.  Becky also confirmed that when they recommence the offering she’ll be in touch, so stay tuned if you’ve been wondering where the club had gone or want to get involved in the future.

I hope that in the intervening time between the last panel and the next there have been new ideas kicked around to energise the club and make it more inclusive, more popular, and higher up the Clarion/Aldi priority lists!

Enjoyed this article?  Please take a moment to ‘Like’ and share using the buttons below. Keep looking around my site for more of the same.  Cheers!
Advertisements

Aldi Wine Club 16th Tasting Panel – Note #4

I must admit that, when I first got a view of the 2nd wave of wines selected for the 16th  panel of the Aldi Wine Club, I did think there was a chance that things could hit a mid-panel lull.  My initial belief that I had tasted both of the wines already was, as per my last post, initially wrong and, as it turned out, 100% wrong.

With this Pinot Noir we’re once again tasting from the Aldi flagship Exquisite Collection and just like the Chardonnay, the screw cap, neck brace and label all have clear signs of being well thought through, even down to the sloping cut at the top of the front label which is a really stylish and subtle touch.

The only minus points go once again for the obligatory signature from winemaker Jon McNab giving his bottle/blend approval.  Why wouldn’t he approve it?

The last time I tasted (what I believed to be) this Pinot Noir was as part of the 13th panel back in April 2017, in a cheese and wine pairing.  As it transpired, the original Pinot was from the Sauvignon Blanc stronghold of Marlborough which, although at a very similar latitude, is from the northern part of New Zealand’s south island as opposed to the southern part of the north island, which is where this wine hails from.

Both locations are far enough away from the equator to have the cool climate and temperatures needed to ripen the thin-skinned and fussy Pinot Noir variety, and a quick look at the Aldi website shows that the Marlborough based wine is no longer available.  Perhaps this Wairarapa version is a new substitution for the range?  I did pitch the question to Aldi but, as yet, haven’t received an answer.

As per website reviews, other Aldi customers have also been confused as to the origin of their wine, and it doesn’t help that both wines are packaged virtually identically.

Aldi Wairarapa Pinot 1

Exquisite Collection Pinot Noir 2016, Wairarapa, New Zealand, 13%, £6.99

In colour this was a plummy cherry purple with a lighter red rim hinting at the youthful and thin skinned fruit.

The nose was very expressive and full of herbaceous woody notes with just a sprinkling of floral vanilla and a whiff of smoke.  Also detectable was a touch of diesel, and very precise red cherry fruits, dense, dark and ripe.

On the palate there was the lightest of grainy tannin a well as the sweet ripened fruit of both black and red cherry, cranberry, and plum.  The overall sensation was of a complex berried compote and, to me, a really wonderful and interesting blend.

The acidity, refreshing but not mouth-watering, helped to round out the palate and take the edge off the fruit as opposed to being a dominant character.  The overall palate was direct and forceful, but balanced in a way that one element didn’t interfere with another.

Aldi Wairarapa Pinot 2

The bottle label is absolutely spot on when it talks of an ‘enduring finish’ which is in the multiple minutes.  For me the end palate evolved over time and kept gradually winding through different layers, as opposed to many wines which offer up a direct hit of fruit and then dissipate fairly quickly.

The on-going smoky dusky dark fruit absolutely nailed it and, when given the chance, developed further in to notes that touched upon bitter chocolate and mocha, almost made to be paired with food.  I had this wine with sticky honey BBQ ribs where the darker aspects paired with the meat and the fruitier aspects gelled with the sweeter sauce.

Still only £6.99, which is the same price as the Marlborough Pinot tasted 6 months ago, this is a firm favourite with Aldi customers, currently scoring 4 out of 5 stars on the Aldi Website.

My thanks go to AldiUK for supplying the bottle used in this tasting.

Enjoyed this article?  Please take a moment to ‘Like’ and share using the buttons below. Keep looking around my site for more of the same.  Cheers!

Aldi Wine Club 16th Tasting Panel – Note #1

DSC_0078

Although it feels like longer it’s only been 5 months since I last checked in with the Aldi Wine Club as part of their 13th tasting panel.  Always keen to keep up with the latest offerings, it was a pleasure to be included as part of their 16th panel, even more so as the range has moved onwards since I was last in touch and I would be tasting two wines I’d never tried before.

As a reminder, the club is open to any UK based participants, should they fancy themselves as a budding wine taster with a flair for publicising the wines via social media.  To apply for the next panel simply head here and follow the simple qualifying rules (150 words as to why you should be chosen), and you too could be sampling the latest Aldi wine offerings in exchange for an honest review.

The great thing about the panel is that honesty is a key part of the deal – you don’t have to be un-necessarily fawning over a wine that doesn’t ‘float-your-boat’ to get a free bottle; you just need to be honest and constructive in your feedback.

In addition, as opposed to some other tasting schemes out there, you don’t have to be a regular purchaser of Aldi wine to stand a chance of joining the club.  First timers are welcome and have an opinion as valid as any other.

First up for this 16th panel was a Sauvignon Blanc, not perhaps from the expected motherland of New Zealand, but instead from the southern Cape of South Africa.

Labelled as ‘The Project’, my first question was, OK, so what is ‘The Project’?  This was helpfully covered by the back label and described as a collaboration between ‘two mates’ sharing a love of the vine.

With a view to utilising the scenic vineyards around Cape Town, and in pursuit of the nirvana of vinous perfection, experienced winemaker Thys Louw (born in to a wine-making family stretching back a further 5 generations) and maverick winemaker Duncan Savage joined together in pursuit of excellence.

My senses certainly pricked on hearing the name Duncan Savage as I’d been to a tasting last October and raved about his white offering, full of flavour and with a great sense of style and attention to detail on the packaging.

I was now looking forward to a top-quality wine.

SB Tweet

The Project Sauvignon Blanc 2016, South Africa, 12.5%, £5.99

Although Aldi are now on to the 2017 vintage (remember that southern hemisphere wine is harvested in February/March), this is a review of the 2016 vintage supplied to me.

Bottled under screw cap and coming in an eco-friendly-looking clean green bottle, a slightly odd gripe of mine was the inclusion of various spurious bits of information on the label, perhaps to ape the style of other wines of a similar nature.

Mentioning that the wine was ‘project approved’ with ‘batch 1’ containing the ‘mineral element’ and ‘batch 2’ containing the ‘fruit element’ was not only useless information, but potentially confusing to the average consumer.  There was also the obligatory signature in the bottom right of the label from someone somewhere, clearly meaning something official which surely no-one really cares about when buying/tasting the wine.

If the above made you think I was slightly over-picking the holes here, another grumble was that the label was slightly peeling off when I received the wine, a good deal more so when it was chilled down for drinking (I managed to fully peel it off with little effort, which was completely at odds with the dedication previously seen in the Savage bottles).

Perhaps as I’d only just re-watched the great 2009 TV documentary series ‘Wine’, which in part showed South African producers moving their wine industry ‘forward’ to a new era alongside scenes of them hand sticking each bottle label in turn, it made me juxtapose my grand thoughts with a rather more rustic endeavour.

On to the tasting then and, being pale lemon in colour this had a good, strong, impressively expressive nose.  Focused on the tropical yellow fruits of dried pineapple and melon there was also a touch of stony peach fruit.

The palate was full of lively juicy fruits creating a good medium weight in the mouth.  The acidity was both refreshingly vibrant and mineral in character with an almost piercing, linear quality pushing it through the expressive fruits.

Dominated by apple green flesh and green grassy notes, the golden tropical fruits carried through from the nose, all well-ripened and juicy through good sun exposure.  The end palate had a grapefruit bitter tang to offset and round the palate off.  This certainly wasn’t your average gooseberry/asparagus dominant Sauvignon Blanc.

Although I didn’t try this with food it stood up fantastically well on its own, and the packaging was a complete red-herring as to the quality contained within.

My dominant memory is the seriously long finish which lasted well over a minute (I gave up timing it in the end, just to enjoy it).  I’d easily hang my hat on that.  Summer may have ebbed away but the taste of this wine almost still lingers on.

Currently rated 4.2 out of 5 on the Aldi site, my thanks go to AldiUK for supplying the bottle used in this tasting.

Enjoyed this article?  Please take a moment to ‘Like’ and share using the buttons below. Keep looking around my site for more of the same.  Cheers!