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Wednesday 1 April 2020

Lidl Saint Emilion Grand Cru Vertical

Two vintages of a right-bank Bordeaux from Lidl

It seems odd to be getting excited about the opening of a new budget supermarket in Cambridge, but desperate times and all that.

Right now, your local independent wine merchant needs your support, but Lidl's wine offering is interesting for two reasons:

- it includes a selection of wines rated by MW Richard Bampfield called the Wine Tour
- the wines are all scored (on the 100-point scale)

I purposely do not score wines myself unless absolutely required to; rather, I use a broader system of descriptive indicators from Thoroughly Pleasant up to Very Good Indeed.

However, I have long believed (and written) that, given every bottle of wine looks pretty much the same on the shelf, a scoring-system-plus-narrative would be of great assistance to most buyers. Online retailers do this to a greater or lesser extent, usually allowing customers to rate wines, but Lidl is the first high-street retailer I have come across that has a consistent approach to disclosing wine scores from a qualified professional.

This right Bank Bordeaux gets 89 points and costs just £10.99 which makes it good value; reduced to under £7 (for another day or so) it is quite the bargain.

Now, vintage is important in Bordeaux and 2016 was Very Good. But these '16s to my palate will benefit from further aging (in reality they are only a little over three years old), so I also bought bought several of the 2017s which is showing better now, albeit without the same aging potential.

On a technical note, St Emilion Grand Cru is not to be confused with the Grand Cru Classé wines of the region and is merely a slightly higher level of wine than everyday; lower yields, greater ripeness and alcohol levels plus longer aging before release, that sort of thing.

Lidl Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2016 still rather closed-up and not yet fully integrated; the fruit is somewhat hidden under the oak; the raw ingredients here are all good - bramble fruit, spice, savouriness and length - they just need a bit longer to become harmonious. Good underpinnings, with firm, fine tannins. Improves with extended aeration and will age.

Good - needs aging.

Match with roast beef now and darker game in a couple of years.

Lidl Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2017 lighter, fresher and more opened-up, with ripe fruit, spice and gentle tannins. Very well made with decent structure; elegant and focused.

Thoroughly enjoyable - drinking nicely now.

Match with midweight dishes, such as pork rillettes, salami or roast chicken.

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