Aldi wine road trip: The Italian Wine Guy and the Wine Curmudgeon go in search of value and quality

aldi wine
Damn it, I forgot to bring my hat.

Our Dallas Aldi wine road trip finds some cheap wine gems among the rows and rows of Winking Owl

The good news: Our Aldi wine road trip was not the disaster that I feared. Alfonso Cevola, the Italian Wine Guy, had scouted four other Aldi locations in our part of Dallas, and assured me we could find things worth drinking. And he was right.

We found four during our five-store visit. That was impressive, given that Aldi here has consistently fallen short of its effort in Europe and the United Kingdom. There, its private label wines (labels sold only at Aldi) are cheap and critically praised.

The wines worth buying again:

• Dellara Cava Brut NV ($7, purchased, 11.5%): The first bottle was flat, a worrisome trend I’ve experienced lately with sparkling wine costing as much as $20. But the second had the requisite character for a Spanish bubbly – tart lemon and green apple fruit and some minerality. A step up from other $7 cavas, especially since they’ve been dumbed down to taste like watery Prosecco.

• La Cornada Crianza 2015 ($5, purchased, 13%): This Spanish red made with tempranillo was this close to being a Hall of Fame wine. It has way too much oak for what it is; leave out the oak, and the acidity isn’t pushed to the back and the wine is in balance. Very nice cherry fruit and even a little Spanish orange peel aroma.

• La Rue Cotes de Provence Rose 2017 ($7.50, purchased, 12%): This looks like legitimate Provencal rose (a watery pink), and it smells like one, too (tart berries). The catch is that it finishes a little sweet, and legitimate Provencal rose doesn’t do that. But that might have been me looking for a flaw. Otherwise, it’s mostly what it should be a fair price.

• Bergeron Estates Reserve Icewine 2016 ($12/375 ml, purchased, 10.5%): Quality Canadian icewine should cost three or four times this, and no one will confuse the Bergeron with Inniskillin. But it does taste like icewine – a luxurious honeyed sweetness – and it does taste like the vidal grape it is made with. It needs more acidity to balance the sweetness, but well worth buying again for those who like dessert wine.

I didn’t buy two wines that Alfonso thought would be OK, a German pinot gris and reisling labeled Landshut, which may have been made by Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler, a top German producer. So I’ll try those next next – each was about $7. In addition, a Spanish garnacha, Vina de la Nieve from Catalonia ($6) looked worth tasting but wasn’t available for sale. It was on the shelf, but not in the system.

Having said that, there was still too much Aldi wine in the stores whose reason for being was that it cost $3. And too many of the $10 wines were advertised with 88-point shelf talkers, which is about as helpful as writing a blog post longhand and using magic to put it on the Internet. And there was an amazing lack of continuity between stores, where one store would have one wine, another wouldn’t, and third would have something else.

Still, as Alfonso kept reminding me, “Small steps, Jeff, small steps. Aldi is heading in the right direction.” Which I fervently hope.

Photo by Alfonso Cevola

More about Aldi wine:
Can grocery store private label wine save cheap wine from itself?
The Aldi wine experience
Aldi wine: This isn’t the way to wine friends and influence sales

7 thoughts on “Aldi wine road trip: The Italian Wine Guy and the Wine Curmudgeon go in search of value and quality

  • By Connie -

    I did try the Vina de la Nieve Garnacha..Ok, for 6.00 what do you expect…easy tippling, a little” smooth” without much character but when you’ve got wine buddies without ideals, good stuff.13.5%, puffed up a bitprefer slightly less hot!Would buy if Aldis still has when I go back. Pinot Grigios’ give me the sniffles and red face, don’t recommend.Slap those Italian bulk PG producers….

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      Thanks for this. So, mostly like other Aldi US wines?

  • By David Carlson -

    I agree. For 6 it is a decent. Slight bread aroma, deep color, non descriptive fruit flavor, tastes like decent cheap wine

  • By John Loechler -

    Enjoying a bottle of the Aldi La Cornada tempranillo. When purchasing a bottle for under $10 I have lowered expectations. Under $7, even lower. Imagine my surprise and joy when I had a sip of this gem weighing in under $5. The finish is everything for me. That moment of lingering pleasure. I am going back for a case. This is a perfect inexpensive red for all to enjoy.

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      That’s a fine way of describing the wine and the process. Sadly, no La Cornada left in Dallas, so have had to make do during the duration without it.

  • By A C -

    I miss the Viña Fuerte La Mancha Tempranillo that they sold for 4.99 too

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      The Vina Fuerte, like the old Hogue fume and the Zaza de Jau black label — some of the greatest cheap wines of all time.

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