Thursday, June 21, 2018

BEER 5: EGGER MARZENBIER


Another nice little quaffing lager. You can buy better at the price and the same for less. Even so it's still a very worthy beer.

CATEGORY 1
SIZE: 500ml can
ALCOHOL: 5%
PRICE: 69 euro cents
FROM: Lidl, Austria
RATING:4/5

BEER 4: GLETSCHER SCHANKBIER


A nice little quaffing lager. Scores well at the price.

CATEGORY 1
SIZE: 500ml can
ALCOHOL: 4.2%
PRICE: 45 euro cents
FROM: Lidl, Austria
RATING:4.5/5

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

BEER 3: STEAM BREW IMPERIAL IPA

More over the top packaging herE with slogans " Let's oil the gears of life" and "German craft beer resistance". Lashings of hop driven flavour this time with another excessive dose of alcohol. But once again YOU must give this a try. It's another stunner.


CATEGORY: 3
SIZE: 500ml can
ALCOHOL: 7.8%
PRICE: 69 euro cents
FROM: Lidl, Germany
RATING:5/5

BEER 2: STEAM BREW GERMAN RED

Over the top in packaging, flavour and alcohol but YOU must give this a try. I'm not a huge fan of beers at this alcohol level but this is a stunner. Make sure you pour into a glass.

CATEGORY: 2
SIZE: 500ml can
ALCOHOL: 7.9%
PRICE: 69 euro cents
FROM: Lidl, Germany
RATING:5/5

BEER 1 WAGNER'S WEISSE BEER



A perfectly pleasant wheat beer that washed down an outstanding schnitzel in the Black Forest.

CATEGORY: 2
ALCOHOL: not known
PRICE: not known
FROM: Restaurant/bar
RATING:4/5

THE CHALLENGE: HOW MANY NEW BEERS CAN YOU TASTE IN A YEAR?

After too many months of far too many perfectly pleasant bland beers I was instantly inspired by the discovery of a Fristo Beverage market.

https://www.fristo.de/startseite/

It's a Beer Lover's treasure trove with rows of stacks of beers that were all enticingly new to me. Sadly we were walking and could only fit nine 500ml bottles into the backpack. 
So here goes. How many new beers can I taste in a year?




RIESLING RHEINHESSEN HALBTROCKEN 2017

I wanted to see what a not so trocken Riesling tasted like. It's nowhere as sweet as I feared and would be perfect chilled right down with spicy food. The ideal compromise for experienced wine lovers to share with anyone who likes their wines a bit sweeter. Also perfect to mix with half a glass of ice.


GRAPE VARIETIES: Riesling
REGION: Germany
A/V: 11% 
PRICE: 1.99 euro 
FROM: Lidl, Germany
RATING: 4.5/5 from me 

HERE'S ANOTHER GRAPE VARIETY TO ADD TO THE LIST WE'VE TASTED

A stylish understated label and the suggestion of another Gruner Veltliner experience made this impossible to resist. Turns out Fruhroter Veltliner is no relation to Gruner. But it is still a very fine wine in the crisp dry white category. Very highly recommended.

VINTAGE: 2017
GRAPE VARIETY: Fruhroter Veltliner
REGION: Austria
A/V: 12% 
PRICE: 3.49 euro 


FROM: Lidl, Austria
RATING: 5/5 from me 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

DON'T BE FOOLED BY THE PRICE OR THE SIZE

How can a wine in a big 1litre bottle be any good at this price? I have no idea but it's a complete surprise. It's a steely very drinkable dry white which doesn't quite have the character of recent finds but is still very worthwhile at this price.

WEINE OSTERREICH 2017 MULLER THURGAU 1000ml
GRAPE VARIETIES: Muller Thurgau
REGION: Austria
A/V: 12% 
PRICE: 2.49 euro 
FROM: Lidl, Austria
RATING: 4.5/5 from me 

IT'S TIME YOU WERE INTRODUCED TO GEMISCHTER SATZ

It's not a grape variety but a triple varietal blend that is made under strict guidelines. We found this one in Lidl and suspect, due to the lack of information on the label, that it's another one of their own labels that dominate their shelves. It's a delicious crisp dry white with a a touch of appealing spritzig

GEMISCHTER SATZ 2017 BURGENLAND TROCKEN
GRAPE VARIETIES: It's a three way mix
REGION: Burgenland, Austria
A/V: 12% 
PRICE: 2.99 euro 
FROM: Lidl, Austria
RATING: 5/5 from me 

PALOMAR CREEK 2017 MARLBOROUGH SAUVIGNON BLANC

I just had to buy it. After all, what's an import like this doing on a retail shelf in a country that makes outstanding white wine? And at this price? After tasting it I still have no idea. It's a superb retro throw back to the days of herbaceous NZ sauvignon blancs. More paspalum and capsicum than tropical fruit. Huge intense flavours that would welcome a 50/50 mix of ice if you wanted to enjoy a couple of glasses and drive.

GRAPE VARIETIES: Sauvignon Blanc
REGION: Marlborough, New Zealand
A/V: 12.5% 
PRICE: 3.99 euro 
FROM: Lidl, Germany
RATING: 5/5 from me 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A WELCOME SOUTH AFRICAN IN AUSTRIA


While all countries in Europe are extremely parochial about their own wine [and retail shelves reflect this] sometimes outside help is required. Austria is not renowned for red wines so I was more than willing to buy a bottle of this to try.
I wasn't expecting much for the price but once again Lidl amazed me. I love Pinotage, and while it's not to everyone's taste, if you love grungy, feral, earthy reds this may just be the best bargain in Europe. It has plenty of cellar potential so just grab a bottle to start with. Taste it over three days and see how it grabs you. Personally I'd rate it at well above 5/5 but I have to recognise it really isn't to everyone's taste.



VREDEBOSCH 2017 PINOTAGE
GRAPE VARIETY: Pinotage
REGION: Western Cape, South Africa
A/V: 14.5% 
PRICE: 2.49 euro 
FROM: Lidl, Austria
RATING: 4.5/5 from me

FRITZ PITTNER 2017 GRUNER VELTLINER


Austria's number one grape variety is beautifully expressed here with another bargain from Lidl. Lean crisp and dry with plenty of flavour this will be perfect for summer.

GRAPE VARIETY: Gruner Veltliner
REGION: Austria
A/V: 12% 
PRICE: 2.99 euro 
FROM: Lidl, Austria
RATING: 5/5 from me 

PANNONIA EXCLUSIV 2017 GRUNER VELTLINER NO 1

There's nothing shy about the name of this one. Or the wine itself. This is a forward style with plenty of flavour, just a little off dry and a touch of spritzig. Guaranteed to be a real crowd pleaser if you're looking for something with widespread appeal.

GRAPE VARIETY: Gruner Veltliner
REGION: Burgenland, Austria
A/V: 12% 
PRICE: 3.49 euro 
FROM: Lidl, Austria
RATING: 5/5 from me 

ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS RIDICULOUS BARGAIN


Once again Lidl have excelled themselves in the lower price bracket. This is an absolutely dazzling crisp dry white which is one of the cheapest we've seen of this variety [aka Grasevina or Laski Rizling] and easily one of the best. The price is quite ridiculous and if we can't find it anywhere else it would be worth driving to Austria to pick up as many dozen as you can.
Dangerously drinkable and one of the Best Buys of the last 12 months.


WEIN OSTEREICH 2017 WELSCH - RIESLING
GRAPE VARIETY: Welschriesling
REGION: Burgenland, Austria
A/V: 12% 
PRICE: 2.49 euro 
FROM: Lidl, Austria
RATING: 5/5 from me 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

MARK THESE DATES IN YOUR DIARY

6th and 7th April 2019
If I was anywhere near the south of France [say within a few thousand kms] I'd be heading to the village of Chateauneuf du Pape for their spring wine tasting.

I've been going to these types of events for years and the 2018 tasting we attended was up there with the best ever. Anywhere. For a mere 10 euro we had the opportunity to taste 100s of wines from close to 100 producers.

Impossible to recommend highly enough.




Wednesday, June 6, 2018

THE 13% GUIDELINE FOR RED WINE


With European supermarkets packed full of red wines how do you make a selection from stuff you've never heard of and labels you probably can't read? Or pronounce.

You can narrow down the selection by having a look at the alcohol content. If it's a minimum of 13% it means the grapes were picked with a fair level of ripeness. This means you have a better chance of getting a satisfying tasty amount of fruit flavour. 

My long held theory was reinforced by visits to a couple of expensive convenience stores in Avignon, France recently. I didn't expect much but I found a different Cotes du Rhone in each store. Both weighed in at 13.5%  a/v. They were both under 5 euro and were really tasty little wines.

Of course you'll find great reds under that level and some undrinkable stuff if the alcohol level is too high. But at the budget end of the market the 13% mark is a great help.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

A LESS THAN OUTSTANDING WINE TASTING

So I grab a range of random reds from our first Lidl we visit in Italy. You've got to start somewhere so I chose price points.  From left to right these cost 1.69, 2.99, 4.99 and 13.99 euro . Alcohol levels seemed to go up with price. Once again left to right: 12%, 13%, 13.5% and an absurd 15.5%.

Sadly there's not much else to report. We opened the bottles and tasted them over three days. Nothing happened. The two innocuous cheaper wines stayed that way. The Valpolicella Ripasso stayed a charry unbalanced beast and the |Amarone remained a weird bottle of over extractive fruit.

It's sad when a retailer I enjoy gets it so wrong. In the absence of any on floor advice you run the risk of being very disappointed. Lidl also have their own label Barolo which I've found very disappointing.




A 2/5 rating is probably harsh on the cheaper two but generous for the others. Impossible to recommend any of these.

MEET OUR NEW FAVOURITE EVERYDAY DRY WHITE

For the last five months of our travels we've found it impossible to beat the German riesling that's on the Aldi shelves [until we arrive] in Spain. But we're now a long way from Spain and as the weather warms up in Italy this looks like being our sitting in the sun everyday quaffer. This is a beautiful crisp dry aromatic white. Lemon is the dominant fruit character on a delicate yet surprisingly assertive palate. Impossible to recommend highly enough
This is a Lidl "own brand" that translates to "farmhouse in the country". As opposed to farmhouse in the city I guess.



CASALE AI CAMPI 2017 RIBOLLA GIALLA
GRAPE VARIETIES: Ribolla Giolla
REGION: Veneto/Friulli, Italy
A/V: 12% 
PRICE: 3.49 euro 
FROM: Lidl, Italy
RATING: 5/5 from me 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

SOMETIMES YOU GET LUCKY

Lucky enough to be in France's vastly underrated Languedoc region, lucky enough to read an article recommending a visit to Chateau le Bouis and lucky enough to have a range of outstanding wines shown to us by the charming, knowledgeable Audrey. We've lost count of the number of Cellar Doors we've visited around the world but this experience, thanks to Audrey and the wines, was up there with the best.


In a truly impressive line up these four impressed us most. If we lived in Europe we'd be buyng dozens of them. As it is we're enquiring about shipping costs to Australia.  But for the time being we just bought a few bottles of each for some upcoming tastings we have planned.

All wines scored 5/5 from me. They're all quite different in their style with a variety of winemaking techniques applied to different combinations of varieties. This is reflected in their labelling which unusually lacks any common cotporate branding theme. 

2014 Cuvee R ... a blend of Grenache, Carignan and Shiraz [14% a/v] 9.95 euro
2014 Cuvee Zoe ... mostly Carignan that's gone through carbonic maceration [14.5% a/v] 12.70 euro
2011 Cuvee Arthur ... mostly Shiraz with 12% from old Carignan vines [14% a/v] 15.50 euro
2011 Cuvee K ... mostly Shiraz with 6% Carignan [15% a/v] 25 euro


You may struggle to find these anywhere but from the winery:
Chateau le Bouis
Route Bleue, 11430 Gruissan 
ph 04 68 75 25 25
                                                            contact@chateaulebouis.com

Saturday, March 17, 2018

90 POINTS FROM WINE SPECTATOR AND WORTH MORE


One of the things I love about Spain is that you can pluck wines like this straight off the supermarket shelves. Six years old and quite possibly drinking at its peak without us having to worry about any cellaring. It's a mere 4 euro and an extreme bargain.
Medium weight with plenty of serious complex flavour from the bottle ageing. 



SENORIO de la ANTIGUA 2012 MENCIA
GRAPE VARIETIES: Mencia
REGION: Leon, Spain
A/V: 13.5% 
PRICE: 3.99 euro 
FROM: Aldi, Spain
        RATING: 5/5 from me 

THE RED DRINKERS WHITE


The label is quite vague but the wine is unequivocally huge. This is a big rich, wooded, full bodied dry white. If you like this style you'll rate it much higher. If you prefer light zingy whites, avoid at all costs.

VILLA REAL 2016 PREMIUM DOURO
REGION: Douro, Portugal
A/V: 13.5% 
PRICE: 3.99 euro 
FROM: Lidl, Portugal
RATING: 4/5 from me 

OUTSTANDING PORTUGUESE DRY WHITE

It's a rare white wine, at this price, that combines a textural complexity with a fine fruit and acid delicacy. This is an absolutely outstanding dry white that I could happily drink for the rest of my life.

CASA FERREIRINHA PLANALTO 2016 VINHO BLANCO SECO RESERVA
GRAPE VARIETIES: ????
REGION: Douro, Portugal
A/V: 12.5% 
PRICE: 4.99 euro 
FROM: Lidl, Portugal
RATING: 5/5 from me 

NOW HERE'S THE PROBLEM OF BUYING TOO MUCH WINE

When I arrive in a new country or find a new retailer with a range of wines I've never seen before I get excited. I'm obsessed with tasting wine and making sense of varieties and regions that I've never encountered before. 
Sometimes I buy so much that we can't taste them all before we move on to a new place where those wines aren't available.  And so it was with this little beauty. We bought it in Portugal and opened the bottle in Spain. 
It's a dazzling crisp dry white full of aromatic flavour that warrants a much higher price. I wish we'd bought more

MONTE DA FERRA 2016 VINHO BRANCO
GRAPE VARIETIES: Roupeiro, Arinto and Fernao Pires
REGION: Alentejo, Portugal
A/V: 12.5% 
PRICE: 1.99 euro 
FROM: Aldi, Portugal
RATING: 5/5 from me