A new range of French wines, including some from Bordeaux, are set to hit Lidl’s shelves on Thursday this week. Hardly headline news but in fact it’s done just that, kicking up a little wine storm. Because some of the wines come from lesser-known vineyards neighbouring top estates, the latter charging much higher prices even though they’re practically next door. And that, according to Lidl, is how to get better value for money. The grapes are not ‘dramatically different’. They have a point: if two wines are made in the same way from similar grapes and from nearby vineyards, it’s likely there’ll be similarities. But in my experience the wines will be different, even if not dramatically so. Now, if I had to choose between a bottle of claret at £100 a pop and one from a nearby chateau at £10, I know which one I’d choose. Yep, the £10 one. Because a) I can’t afford to drink the other one and b) see a).
In other news, I went to see the new Bridget Jones film last week. As someone who didn’t really relate to her in the 1990s (she counted alcohol units FFS), I didn’t have great expectations. To be honest, I was just happy to be out. But it was properly, cross-your-legs laugh out loud and I loved it. If you haven’t seen it, please go. You’ll never look at revolving hospital doors in quite the same way.
Current red in the rack: Tesco Finest Medoc
Price: £8.00 - Buy From Tesco
If you can’t wait ’til Thursday to get your claret on (c’mon, I’m trying to make Bordeaux sound cool. I realise it might not be working) then try this one made by a very dependable producer, Yvon Mau. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes, as most of the reds from this region are. And it does just what a simple claret should do. That is, provide a hit of sturdy black fruits without being too in your face. Definitely needs meaty/hearty food to show off its best side, or at least a big hunk of strong cheese.
Current spirit in the rack: Elephant Sloe Gin
Price: £32.95 - Buy From 31dover.com
It’s a bit too early for picking sloes here in the New Forest (although I hear from my neighbour-slash-sloe-guru Maggie that it’s looking like a good year for them in Yorkshire. Apparently, it’s not looking so good for us down south but I’ll report back in due course). In the meantime, lucky me, Elephant Gin sent me a sample of their new sloe gin. Many of the botanicals behind this particular brand are from Africa, although this one’s rather more heavily influenced by the sloe bush. Still, you get the idea. I tried it with a splash of tonic and a twist of orange peel in front of Strictly on Saturday and it was just lovely: smooth as Craig’s forehead and as fruity as Bruno’s comments. Not at all forgettable.
But hasn’t it always been that way, that neighbouring vineyards command less money? And has everyone forgot about the concept of terroir? Having said that, I’d go for the ten quid one too.
Vinogirl, you are right. This is absolutely about terroir/a wine’s unique sense of place. Some of my fave wines com from vineyards that are a stone’s throw from a big name (and I think that part of the joy of them is knowing what good value they are)!