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Not quite as expected

03 November 2017


THERE is a French word, typicité, which is very important in wine-tasting, even though it does not appear in my French dictionary. In effect, it means “Does a wine taste as the label would lead you to expect?” For me, this is particularly relevant, as, recently, I took part in a wine-tasting competition for charity. Sponsored by Pol Roger Champagne, it was in the Vintners Hall, in London.

The competition consisted of each team being given eight wines blind and then having to answer a series of questions on them. What grape variety were they? What country did they come from? What region in that country did they come from? Given the potential strength of our team, we failed miserably.

From this we should learn that, because styles now vary so widely, nothing can be taken for granted. We were able to recognise the Riesling, the Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Pinot Noir wines as being made from those grapes; we failed as far as the Chardonnay, the Cabernet Franc, and the Syrah were concerned.

In a world where more and more wine is being sold as a varietal, you can rely less on what it will taste like. The part that the region and the wine-maker play are becoming more and more important.

By chance, my nearest supermarket is a branch of Lidl. Although I rarely shop there, whenever I do, I am pleasantly surprised by some of the wines that they have on offer. Unfortunately, it appears that the most interesting are often allocated to each store in limited quantities; so, unless you know in advance what they going to have in stock, it is a matter of “first come, first served”.

For example, their Comte de Senneval Champagne was on offer recently for £6.99 the bottle, which must be very close to below cost, and challenging Proseccos and Cavas. For anyone planning a party, I would suggest a rapid visit to your local Lidl, for any stock remaining. If that has gone, look for the Seaview Sparkling Brut from South Australia, at the same price.

Coincidentally, another wine that they had in stock was one that I recommended last month: the Austrian Grüner Veltliner Granit 2016 from the Wagram winery, here at £7.99 rather than the £10.24 I proposed a month ago.

Lidl seems to be particularly strong in sweet wines, and, while they may not be to many people’s taste, they generally come into their own at the end of a Christmas meal; so now may well be the time to buy.

From the foothills of the Pyrenees comes their Jurançon 2015, at £7.99, made from three local varieties: the Petit Manseng, the Gros Manseng, and the Petit Courbu. The local sales-pitch has it that the lips of King Henry IV of France were moistened with it at birth. From the Mediterranean end of the Pyrenees comes their Muscat de Rivesaltes (£8.99). This is one grape variety that I would certainly hope to recognise.

Perhaps even more interesting is the classic sweet wine of Hungary, a Tokaji Késoi Arany 2013, at £7.99 for 50cl.

While none of these wines may still be available in your local branch, there always seems to be at least one interesting bargain on the wine shelves at Lidl.

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