Reviewing great value Aldi wines

Albrecht_Filiale_1958 (1)Aldi wines get their own review section because Aldi is the only supermarket group that sends a selection of samples. Should Woolworths via Dan Murphy’s, or Coles via 1st Choice, send their own-label or cleanskin wines they too would be reviewed.

What happens is: wineries send samples and if they like my review they’ll post it on their website or forward it to retailers to show they have an endorsement.

High points have recently come under suspicion as they are used by marketers to promote wine. This has raised questions: do those writing the reviews get paid for doing so? Is it in the writer’s interest to give high points as this would mean coin in the pocket?

I wish wineries wouldn’t just use the points. They’re welcome to use the full review, including points, notes and my assessment of value for money. There is no charge from me to the winery or store for using my review, so apart from the enjoyment of the wine I am only the richer for the experience.

As for high points, I have covered this before. I start with the wine as perfect, that is 100 points, and then work down. I think it incredibly arrogant and very wanky to give points based on opinion only.  The points are a judgement, and the words an opinion backing that judgement.

Blackstone Paddock ‘Limited Release’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014: This wine is a favourite. It always shows up well in a shiraz line-up and always gets drunk afterwards with dinner. Keeping it short, all the right parts are in the right places. 94 points and $20 is a fair price.

Blackstone Paddock ‘The Confidant’ Frankland River Cabernet Sauvignon 2014: New to the range and a worthwhile addition. I found it difficult to pin down both nose and flavour, as they are slightly different from what one expects from cabernet. However, they’re not nasty different or so different that they can’t be identified as cabernet sauvignon. This leaves them as very individual, so very charming, with an underlying strength. 95 points and cheap at $15.

Merestone ‘The Ascendents’ Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2015: This and its partner shiraz from Hilltops are new limited-production wines exclusive to Aldi, and made by Jason Brown, proprietor of Moppity Wines.  The chardonnay is a delight on the nose, and though oak has been used reminded me more of a Chablis. Very elegant all along the journey, it’s a slender wine that relies more on intellect than curvy, come-hither charm. 94 points and a marvellous price at $12.

Merestone ‘The Ascendents’ Hilltops Shiraz 2015: This is at the opposite end of the ripe fruit spectrum from big Barossa shiraz or even the Aldi Blackstone McLaren Vale shiraz. That doesn’t make it thin and weak; it means it is a paradigm of balance. Smell, flavour, acid and tannin are in harmony from first sniff to final swallow. It has time to go in the bottle, so a mean 93 now but up to three more points to come as it ages. Incredible value at just $12.

Taylors ‘Limited Release’ Clare Valley Shiraz 2014: Taylors has built a good working relationship with Aldi, not only in Australia but also the UK. The blurb sent with this sample says it’s made from select parcels, implying it’s not the usual Taylors shiraz, but a special wine for Aldi. There is no reason to think otherwise, so to the wine: it is indeed an elegant style, and flows pleasantly across the palate, gracefully bestowing flavours at the right points of the journey. 94 points and good value at $15.

Neve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2014: This lacks depth and the return journey is on the short side. It also lacks the real feral character that I look for in good pinot noir. Together, this brings the wine to 92 points. On the other side, it is identifiable PN and there is enough fruit/acid/tannin to give the wine its own character. Add in the fact that it’s only $9 and it’s a good way to get people started on the road to PN. If it’s still on sale when the warmer weather comes it will be a treat chilled.

Bodega Piedra Negra Reserve Malbec 2014: A dusky Argentinian beauty from the Uco Valley, with a wicked glint in the eye. Don’t fight it; be seduced. She’s gifted. 93 points and a truly silly cheap price at $10.

Qiwila Maul Valley Chile Merlot 2014: This has an old-fashioned nose that some might criticise, but it dissipates with some air, then it’s all plum. Powerful on entry, this is no shrinking violet. It fills all parts of the mouth with an explosion of flavour. 91 points and value at $7.

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