Ambitious expansion plans for Scotland from Lidl and Aldi seem to confirm that, even with sustained UK economic recovery, value-centred everyday shopping will continue right across the social spectrum.
Aldi, for example, has overtaken Waitrose in market share and reports suggest that more than half of its customers now fall within “middle class” demographics. Perhaps that is why its new online operation will begin life after Christmas with just wine by the case sales – expanding into other products a few months later.
"Aldi’s wine offerings seem to be moving up the price points"
In any event, Aldi’s wine offerings seem to be moving up the price points. This year the Exquisite Collection premium wines have been augmented by the “Lot series”. These specially commissioned wines from top growers retail at £9.99. Four were launched in the spring and others arrived on the shelves recently.
My top pick among those available in Scotland is 2014 Lot Series Priorat (£9.99) from the part of Catalonia where that geological rarity, llicorella, dominates. Unsurprisingly, the wine has a mineral edge – which serves to deepen the contribution of its intense, assertive raspberry and plum fruit. Other influences come from its long, herbal, cinnamon and mocha backdrop and the pronounced – but dispersing – initial tannin levels.
For an accompanying white, here are two wines that have only recently been added to the general Scottish range. The first is the bright and crisp 2014 Exquisite Collection Clare Valley Riesling (£6.99) with textured apple flavours and lime-centred acidity that gently mellows into something more akin to sweeter members of the citrus family.
Equally, do try the aromatic yet dry and crisp 2014 Freeman’s Bay Pinot Gris (£5.69) from New Zealand’s North Island with delightful rounded, but soft, pear flavours, a combination of savoury depth and citrus acidity and a hint of the grape variety’s trademark tropical fruit ripeness.
2015 Hereford Tempranillo Malbec
Argentina, 13 per cent
A great value South American blend of two originally European grapes that provides an enjoyable, if straightforward, Christmas party red. It gives us a light, floral wine with fresh raspberry acidity, delicate red cherry, all-spice and cinnamon flavours, but relatively little tannin to dim the fruitiness.
(£4.99 – instead of £7.49 until 8 December – at Co-op)
2014 Mayu Dry Pedro Ximenez, Elqui Valley
Chile, 13 per cent
In contrast to the similarly named Spanish sherry grape, this wine is bone dry and, despite hailing from the nearest Chilean wine region to the equator, has acidity-driven freshness a-plenty. That tanginess is neatly supported by attractive quince-centred texture underpinning rounded apple and lemon fruit.
(£7.49 at Majestic where minimum purchase rules no longer apply)