According to the very informative neck label, this wine’s home is the medieval village of Scansano in Maremma, south-west Tuscany. The blend is 90% Sangiovese (Morellino being its local name) and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. With its DOCG status, it sits on the top of the Italian quality ladder. The vintage is 2013 but it has had 24 months ageing, half of which has been in small barrels, presumably made of oak.
The ageing had certainly impressed upon the colour, the body of the wine being an intense ruby but it had a brick-coloured rim. The aromas were an attractive black cherry, at once both sweet and sour, with some deeper notes of spice and leather. This was an impressive wine, so far. The palate repeated all those primary and tertiary notes with the addition of some well-structured tannins adding to its pert, fresh quality. Our criticism was its lack of depth of flavour, immediately appealing but then rather losing it in the mid-palate to end rather short. Well made, it would be a good food wine, if a little simple.
All credit to Aldi for searching for something interesting, slightly off the well-beaten track to Chianti.
[Richard: another in the Aldi ‘Lot’ series, many of which have been reviewed here, still at £9.99. A peculiar foxy nose on opening but that soon went, indeed the wine was improved on day 2 being smoother and richer. One to decant and one of the better wines in this series, my only reservation being that it didn’t taste much like a classic sangiovese.]
Although a small range of thirteen wines, Aldi’s Lot series takes on Tesco’s Finest and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference ranges. The neck tag of Chateau Fauzan proclaims ‘This wine is unique’ and emphasises both topography and the vinification from the 10 hectare of vineyards north-east of Minervois in the Languedoc.
The grapes’ blend was 60% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 10% Carignan.
So, how was the wine? Colour, an intense red with purple rim and significant alcohol indicated. The nose was dominated by fruit, brambles mostly which were quite sweet to smell and low in acidity. There was a structure provided by some tannins which also helped dry the finish which was long. The wine was medium weight and not overly jammy on the finish. In style, this was more like a New World Syrah rather than the lighter Old World style. A good value wine, well-made and with some layers of complexity.
[Richard, I think the latest wines from the Lot series are the best yet and have enjoyed all the reds including the Metairie Du Bois which hasn’t been blogged. Still £9.99.]
The New World has established – and developed – some grape/country or area links that have become standards. This has not been the case in Europe as the grape variety often plays an anonymous role vis-a-vis the region. Hence, we know a New Zealand Sauvignon but do the public link Pouilly Fume with Sauvignon? The wine enthusiast might link Savannieres or Montlouis with Chenin Blanc but the ‘normal’ punter is more likely to know the style of South African Chenins. Well done to the New World. And this link is what makes it easier for the supermarkets to sell product. Hence Aldi’s Lot series.
We tried Aldi’s South African Chenin, made by Bellingham, which retails at £9.99.
The colour was a distinct lemon yellow with no hint of green, suggesting full ripeness and a warm climate. There was some citrus on the nose but the abiding impression was one of neutrality, with no particular significant varietal notes.
On the palate, there was a pleasing richness which went with the acidity, slight fruit sweetness which preceded an almond finish and a slightly hard edge. It was medium in length. It was a pleasant wine which maintained its dryness rather than a Loire Chenin, which can be fuller and slightly sweeter. We felt, at £9.99, it was a little over-priced but a well-made wine.
[Richard: some astute marketing by Aldi because once you’ve tried a few of the Lot series you want to try the rest. I rarely drink either chenin or South African wines so can’t offer any great insight. Geoff’s notes mirror my own. The wine was just as good on day 2 – a little more mellow as you might expect. Nice drink but something I won’t be repurchasing.
I also tried Lot 10 and Lot 06. The former is a Clare Valley Cabernet made by Taylors, not a maker I know. We don’t usually feature the back label but as I was trying the wine I was struck by the varied description of the aromas. Why? Because I couldn’t smell a thing apart from ‘generic red wine’. Add in a boring one-dimensional taste and you end up with the worst bottle in the series so far. And the phrase ‘wonder at its development through to 2022’ is misconceived ad-speak at its worst. I can’t see the wine going anywhere.
Lot 06 was much better, a priorat 2014 from Escaladel, 100% Garnacha. This is another region I rarely taste – the Wine Society don’t stock any, for example – but it was pretty good, especially on day 2 when the lively fruit had mellowed into something more savoury. Recommended if only to try something unusual.]
Aldi, again. This time Lot 9 (and 08, see below) , a Toscano red wine of 13% from 2014. This originates in the east of Italy, opposite the isle of Elba and an able wine it was too.
Dense red with a ruby rim and the tell-tale tears of alcohol, it smelt of vanilla and brambles with a slight menthol aroma which faded after time. The vanilla smell is appealing and carried forward its sweetness into the taste, making it a very easy drinking, commercial but well-made wine. The low tannins also added to its attractiveness.
After having been disappointed more then a few times with Chianti, made not far inland from here, we were both pleasantly surprised by its style. Good value at £9.99.
[Richard: from the Maremma so not a classico. One of those rare wines it is impossible to find out anything about on the internet. Not even on Aldi’s website, as of a few days ago. The neck tag – which I’ve not kept – gave the grapes as petit verdot, merlot and sangiovese, so not permitted grapes either. I’m pretty sure the shelf label calls this a supertuscan. That’s not a recognised designation but is usually taken to mean wines of a much better quality (and cost) than this. We’ve tried several of the Lot series so this was a natural purchase, aided by that other rarity where Aldi are concerned – no queue. Lots of vanilla, possible a bit too much, which made me wonder if oak chipping had been used but, nevertheless, an easy drinking wine with a bit of class. Would buy again.
Also tasted Lot 08, a week after the others. As before Aldi £9.99. A carmenère with 7.5% each of merlot and petit verdot. The last is becoming very common in the sort of wines I drink. An instantly appealing red, lots of fruit, some acidity. Not much structure (16 months in a mixture of new and old oak is claimed), but none the worse for that. Made by Vina Carmen the oldest winery in Chile, who ‘rediscovered’ carmenère in 1994. Very nice wine, worth looking for.]
This time, a Christmas favourite – the pudding wine. The wine comes from Austria’s Burgenland in the south-east of the country where a lot of red wine is produced (see earlier blog). The wine is Aldi’s Austrian Burgenland Beerenauslesen which sells for £6 for a half-bottle. It is, surprisingly, non-vintage and has an ABV of 11%.
The colour was a clear pale yellow and smelt of honey. The palate was raisiny with some balancing sweetness. It had a long finish and, although full of flavour, had a refreshing acidity which maintained our interest.
We have become sophisticated in our appreciation of pudding wines (or ‘stickies’, a rather horrible neologism from Australia) but this would be equally as good, if not better, with a rich starter such as foie gras.
A good value wine, not brilliant, but interesting and a fine food match.
[Richard: three people who love sweet wine tried this and thought it terrific . It seems to appear every Christmas so I’ll probably buy it again next December.]