SOMETIMES it would strike you that wine buffery is like some sort of kooky cult religion.
I repeatedly encounter wine fans who seem to adhere to a strict orthodoxy in terms of which shops (or types of shop) they reckon are worth visiting to buy wine.
While loyalty to shops you like does makes sense, it doesn’t follow that the rest of the retailers don’t sell good wine. Yet that’s the type of prejudice you’ll often hear levelled against the big supermarkets and discounters, generally articulated by people who don’t shop there.
It’s nonsense. Along with the specialists and off-licences, each of the major chains has its attractions.
As well as an impressive track record of selling decent (occasionally outstanding) wine, Aldi is due great credit for their straightforward price proposition: instead of up-and-down “sales” jiggery-pokery they opt instead for year-round low prices. Let’s go take a look at some of them. And on page 24 I’m looking at one of their world-class beers.
*Next week I’ll be taking a look at wines and beers at Lidl.
* Simon and Emma Tyrrell’s online shop, The Wine Store (www.thewinestore.ie), specialises in quality wines, particularly from the Rhône and Spain — their wines occasionally crop up here as outstanding winners at tastings.
On Monday from 7.30pm they’re hosting a two-part tasting and dinner at L’Atitude 51, the new wine café on Union Quay in Cork. Firstly, Simon will talk guests through six wines (mainly from the Rhône) accompanied by tasty tapas from L’Atitude 51’s kitchen (€15 per person). Then there’s the option to stay for a set three-course dinner for just another €15.
To book either or both, call L’Atitude 51 on 021-2390219 and see thewinestoreireland.wordpress.com.
While you’re at it, it’s well worth checking out the venue.
Located in the Union Quay building that used to house The Lobby and, more recently An Crúibín, L’Atitude 51 is a terrific addition to the food and drink scene in the city with an extensive good value wine list which I’ve severely tested but which has never failed me.
Viña Decana Crianza, Utiel Requeña, 2008, Aldi, €5.99
A soft and distinctly vanilla-ey tempranillo cab sauv blend, this performs brilliantly poured right after opening with practically no breathing — an attractive prospect for an easy-drinking glass or two, but if you’re picking up a bottle you might pop its stablemate, below, into the trolley too.
Viña Decana Reserva, Utiel Requeña 2006, Aldi, €6.49
You wouldn’t describe this red as austere, but it is less obviously front-loaded with sweet plush-textured fruit than the Vina Decana crianza above — and it’s all the better for that. Generous baked cherry, set off by firm acidity and tannin merlot shiraz and grenache.
Côtes du Rhône 2010, Aldi, €5.99
The southern Rhône region of France provides a vast quantity of delightfully aromatic reds which should be in the value-for-money bit of every wine list. Here’s a good example — a medium- to light-bodied red concealing plump red fruit and spice.
Baron Amarillo Rioja Reserva 2006, Aldi €7.99
Of the three Spanish reds today, this is the one I’d choose. Like them it benefits from that country’s awesome tradition of ageing wine in barrel and bottle, but this one’s particularly well done — elegant, mature and savoury, but enlivened with alert red fruit and spice.
Freeman’s Bay New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Aldi, €8.49
I occasionally highlight new Zealand wines on special offer around the €8 to €10 mark, but here’s one at the same low price all year round and so well worth adding to your repertoire. A zingy grassily pungent nose and a fabulously mouth-waterinig granny smith palate.
Bushland Winemaker’s Selection Shiraz Cab Merlot 2009 SEA, Aldi, €8.99
I confess to being confused by the proliferation of ‘winemakers selection’ versus ‘reserve’ designations for the various Bushland wines at Aldi down the years, but there’s no doubt or quibble about this one, a firm aromatic blend made by the winemaker at the estimable Hope Estate.
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