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An Exquisite choice.

Byline: andrew campbell ON WINE

ALDI and Lidl were for a long time viewed as cheap and cheerful rivals to low cost supermarket chains Kwik Save and Netto.

But word's got out that there's much more to the two German supermarket giants than low prices. Not only are they cheap but the quality is good and the media attention afforded to their award-winning wine has helped lead their battle for the hearts and minds of British middle-class shoppers.

The result has been astonishing with Aldi's share of the UK grocery market rocketing to nearly 5 per cent in recent months - at the cost of established giants such as Tesco.

But the quality of Aldi's wine should come as no surprise. The family-owned company has around 9,000 stores in more than 18 countries and is Germany's biggest supermarket chain, followed by Lidl. It is also the country's biggest seller of wine.

A well-publicised International Wine Challenge (IWC) gold earlier this month for its New Zealand sauvignon blanc is likely to have seen (cheap) champagne corks popping at Aldi HQ. It will have also have sent yet more bargain hunters flocking through their doors to stock up on wine ahead of Christmas.

The sauvignon is part of Aldi's premium 'Exquisite Collection' which includes several wines that would perfectly match the Christmas day roast.

So here's my festive pick from Aldi starting with the acclaimed Exquisite Collection Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2014, inset.

In a sea of popular but predictable New Zealand sauvignons, it's easy to see why this one stands out. Made by Broadland Wineries and priced at PS7.99, it offers enticing aromas and flavours of peach, citrus, melon, and herbs with a mineral complexity and a long grapefruit finish. The label describes blackcurrant leaf aromas but who goes around sniffing said leaves? What I can say is there's a strong vine leaf nose and flavour to this intense and beautifully balanced sauvignon that left me clambering for more.

Aldi Exquisite Collection Wairarapa Pinot Noir 2013 will also enhance any turkey dinner without breaking the bank. Hailing from the southern tip of New Zealand's North Island this pinot was topped up with a splash of the 2012 vintage helping to produce an earthy, flavoursome mix of raspberry and baked summer fruit crumble, supercharged with allspice, creamy vanilla and a hint of toast. It's a good pinot for the modest PS6.99 price tag.

Their IWC commended Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling 2014 is also a steal at PS6.99 a bottle.

This dry South Australian white has intense lime and green apple aromas that lead to wellbalanced citrus flavours and a hint of minerality. For a far richer white, try the excellent Exquisite Collection Limoux Chardonnay 2013. Limoux is a small town near Carcassonne in the south of France with an abbey that's widely credited with making the world's first sparkling wine, Blanquette de Limoux. It also makes cracking chardonnay. Priced just PS6.99, it offers opulent aromas of coconut, cream, lemon and vanilla. The creamy mellow taste also has a splash of peach and a hint of toast. It's seriously influenced by oak which stops just short of overpowering the fruit.

However, bargain of the week for chardonnay lovers is to be found at Asda where the highly quaffable Luis Felipe Edwards Reserva Chardonnay 2013 is reduced to three-for-PS12. It's well balanced with intense aromas and flavours of butterscotch, cream and lemon with a crisp finish. It's unbelievable value at PS4 a bottle.

Finally from Aldi, the Exquisite Collection Fleurie 2013 hails from one of Beaujolais' 10 higher-rated 'cru' villages. It's made from the red gamay grape which was outlawed by the Duke of Burgundy, Philippe the Bold, in 1395 who described it as a "very bad and disloyal plant" that was occupying land that could be used for pinot noir. As a result gamay was pushed further south to Beaujolas and west to the Loire Valley where it flourished.

Fleurie is very different to the basic Beaujolais or the (in)famous Beaujolais Nouveau. Aldi's IWC bronze-medal version, priced PS6.49, has aromas of perfumed cherry and savoury toast with a hint of spice. In the mouth, there's violets up front leading to spicy fruit. Marks and Spencer Fleurie 2013 is normally PS11 but reduced to two-for-PS16 until January 1. Fittingly a Christmas cake nose of cherry and spice leads to a complex taste of red cherry, raspberry and spice.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 20, 2014
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