CUT-PRICE supermarkets might be increasingly popular in a recession, but have they managed to tempt wine lovers with their bargains?
One of the most active businesses of this kind in Scotland is Lidl, a supergiant run on a prodigious scale from Stuttgart in Germany, now offering more than 50 wines in its portfolio – although not all stores stock all wines. Their wine prices often look exceptionally low, thanks to their huge buying power. They buy centrally from Germany to supply 480 UK stores and have more than 9000 stores worldwide.
You will not recognise any familiar brand names or top producers – but they have all the popular wines in their range from champagne to chablis, Chilean sauvignon blanc to Australian shiraz. In the past I have only liked their Spanish and Italian bargains – so I was interested to see if they were popular in this tasting.
This is the most basic form of wine retailing you can get – even more basic than the US’s Costco – with no fancy shelf talkers or marketing gimmicks. The driver is purely knock down prices – but are they genuine bargains or just confected plonk? Are Lidl’s £3.99 quaffers any better than the bargains you can find in Asda or Tesco?
I tasted 18 wines from the Lidl range. My advice is not to expect much and you might find the odd pleasant quaffable surprise – but many are either too sweet, too confected or they just taste “industrial”.
Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobiadenne 2011 £6.99
Quite pricey for Lidl; hints of florals, but too sweet and confected.
Champagne Comte de Brismand NV £12.99
Quite drinkable, with a citrus edge and reasonable length.
Chablis 2011 £7.69
Top scoring white: bearing close resemblance to its grape and region of origin.
Cimarossa Sauvignon Blanc 2011 £4.29
Dry with green fruits so resembles the grape it is made from. Quaffable, but there are better Chilean sauvignons at this price on the market.
Cabernet Merlot Rosé 2011 £5.99
Too sweet South African rosé, but might suit some palates.
Rioja Reserva Joven 2011 £3.99
Not much resemblance to rioja; too raw and edgy on the palate.
Rioja Reserva Cepa Lebrel 2007 £5.99
Much softer, creamy with vanilla notes, quaffable; but I’ve had better cheap riojas at this price elsewhere.
La Mancha Mezquiriz Tempranillo 2010 £3.99
This was a good bargain: red fruits, soft, easy quaffer for barbecue food.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2011 £3.49
Smells baked, herby, tastes short – needs to be drunk with food.
Shiraz Cabernet 2011 £4.49
Too sweet and confected. Tesco’s Australian shiraz is better.
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