Head to Italy is Peter Ranscombe’s advice when it comes to the German supermarket’s latest summer special offer.
IN THE big scheme of things, this definitely ranks as a #FirstWorldProblem – but the coronavirus lockdown has played havoc with wine writers’ routines.
While many masterclasses with individual producers have shifted online, it’s much harder for retailers to show off their ranges via virtual tastings.
Supermarket chains would normally hold big spring and autumn tastings to pimp their wares.
German discount grocer Lidl does something slightly different though – it usually holds a series of around eight smaller tastings throughout the year to tie-in with its “wine tour” promotions, which involve a limited number of bottles of each wine.
Literally, when they’re gone, they’re gone.
Those smaller Lidl tastings are one of the markers by which I divide my year – without them, I’m losing track of the seasons (the endless wind on the east coast doesn’t help – while everyone else is tweeting radio programmes to boast about sitting in their gardens in the sun, I’m sitting here shivering in my hoodie).
Thank goodness, then, for delivery drivers.
Lidl’s latest wine tour kicked off on Friday and has a distinctly Mediterranean feeling to it this time around.
My advice is to concentrate on the Italian bottles in the special offer – there are some stonking wines in there at excellent prices…
2018 Peuceta Malvasia Bianca (£5.49)
My pick of Lidl’s Italian whites was the malvasia, a grape found throughout the Mediterranean and even used to make fresh and lively wines down in the Canaries. This is a more serious style though; its jasmine and lemon pith notes will really appeal to fans of “natural” wine, while its fresh acidity will make it a good food companion too. Impressive stuff. Sadly, its red sibling – the malvasia nera – missed the mark for me, with too much burnt plum on the nose and then confected vanilla on the palate.
2018 Adler Grüner Veltliner (£8.49)
Austria and Northern Italy have so much shared history that it’s no surprise to see the Hapsburg’s flagship white grape turning up in Alto Adige – which is also known as South Tyrol. This example came in a very savoury style, with lemon rind in amongst the granny smith apples on both the nose and palate, but there’s plenty of concentrated fruit to balance the crisp acidity, and there’s even grüner’s signature white pepper spice on the finish.
2018 Corte Allodola Soave Classico (£6.99)
Soave always feels like a blast-from-the-past, harking back to the days before pinot grigio became dominant. This bottle from the core classico area within the region showed that there’s still tonnes of life left in the old dog yet. The classic pear and green apple aromas may be slightly muted on the nose, but they ramped up their intensity on the palate, balancing the fresh acidity. A steal at this price.
2018 Sassi del Mare Falanghina Beneventano (£7.99)
Falanghina is another great forgotten Italian grape variety. While Soave’s garganega grape is better-known for its freshness, falanghina for me always brings more texture to the party and that’s the case here, where its fleshy body helped balance its crisp acidity. On the nose, it’s all jasmine and apricot, and then on the palate it’s a lesson in lemons, from the fruity candied variety all the way through to the more savoury pith.
2019 Ceo Godello (£7.99)
A Spanish interloper among my Italian selection – this godello from Galicia, the part of north-west Spain that sits above Portugal, was just too good to ignore. Bright and attractive green apple, pear and lemon danced around on the nose. It performed an interesting trick on the palate too; it slid between very dry and savoury lemon rind and an orchardful of fruity red apple.