Tag Archives: Aldi

Wine review: Antoine Delaune Chardonnay 2018

Antoine Delaune chardonnayThe French Antoine Delaune chardonnay is a $6 Aldi white that hints at what the discount grocer can accomplish with its wine

Aldi, the discount grocer, has never seemed to be able to deliver cheap wine quality in its U.S. stores the way it does in Europe. There have been exceptions, but for the most part the wines have been Winking Owl and its ilk. So where does the French Antoine Delaune chardonnay fit into this?

Hopefully, it’s the beginning of Aldi’s commitment to better quality cheap wine — a good thing, since the chain will open a store near my mom in the spring, and we know the trouble she has buying quality cheap wine. The Antoine Delaune chardonnay ($6, purchased, 13%) is a sign that Aldi is focusing more on selling competent and professional wine that you can buy, drink, and not worry about.

This is not to say it’s white Burgundy, the epitome of French chardonnay. But it does taste like chardonnay (some green apple); mostly tastes like it came from France (none of that California slickness); and is clean and fresh without a hint of residual sugar. It’s not even especially thin, which is usually what happens at this price.

And it’s not quite a wine of the week. It’s not stupid, but it is a little too  simple and straightforward and the lesser quality of the grapes does show. Plus, you’ll need to open the screwcap 10 or 15 minutes before you drink it, since the wine needs to breathe.

Mostly, the Antoine Delaune chardonnay is worth $6. That’s an accomplishment these days; I recently tasted a $20 chardonnay that was too precious for words, tasting more like non-alcoholic wine than anything.

Imported by Prestige Beverage Group

Winebits 584: Aldi and Lidl, wine theft, wine and politics

aldi and lidlThis week’s wine news: We’re going crazy for Aldi and Lidl, plus a high-end wine theft and wine is missing from the country’s political divide

Discount grocers: A report from a leading consultancy says discounters Aldi and Lidl “are here to stay. People are very happy with this format.” The Bain & Co. study says the two European chains have as much as 30 percent of the market in some parts of the country, an amazing number given how new each are to the U.S. The thing that matters to wine drinkers? That the two chains are investing heavily in high quality private-label products: “They’re not just filling shelves with something cheaper.” That’s what Aldi and Lidl do in Europe with wine, and if we haven’t seen that yet in the U.S., the report is one more reason to hope the chains will upgrade their U.S. wine inventory to its European level.

No lock can stop them: A Chicago wine collector says the men he rented his condo to stole almost $50,000 worth of wine, including what he called an $8,000 bottle of Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon. The story, from a Chicago TV station, is rife with errors, including the name of the Napa winery. But the story is worth noting several reasons. First, I once lived in the same neighborhood, near Wrigley Field, and there were no condos with $8,000 wine then. Second, because the TV station has a long and proud history, and shouldn’t screw up like that. Third, because the story doesn’t explain why the condo owner was so lax about security for what was termed a “short-term rental.”

No wine, please: A study outlining the booze preferences for Republicans and Democrats includes lights of light beer and bourbon, but wine is mostly missing from the results. And no, I have no idea what that means. Wine does seem to skew Democratic, save for cabernet and riesling, but the preferences are not nearly as striking as those for bourbon – decidedly GOP – and tequila and vodka, much more Democratic.

Winebits 462: Lidl, expensive wine, wine importers

lidl This week’s wine news: Discount grocer Lidl and its cheap wine plans Texas expansion, plus more expensive wine is sold, and wine importers are your friend

On to Texas: Lidl, the European discount grocer that will will debut on the East Coast at the end of next year, has said it will make Texas its second destination. This is huge news for wine drinkers, since Lidl is one of the leading wine retailers in Europe, regularly winning awards for its cheap wine. It also means we will have arch-rivals Lidl and Aldi in Dallas, and as a grocery store consultant friend of mine put it: “I wouldn’t want to be in the supermarket business in Dallas and get caught in the middle between Lidl and Aldi when they go at it.”

Too expensive to drink? How about paying $18,000 bottle for a bottle of red Burgundy? Or this quote, from the owner’s daughter after the wine was sold at auction: “My father would have been so proud and so honored. He bought the right wines at the right price.” Nothing, of course, about drinking the wine, supposedly some of the best in the world. In this, just one more example that more and more high-end wines are made to collect, and not to drink.

The fine print: Marrisa Ross in Bon Appetit tries too hard to be hip and with it, but her point is spot on – the wine’s importer, listed in tiny type on the back label, speaks volumes about the quality of what’s in the bottle. We’ve said this on the blog for years, and even listed some of the best cheap wine importers. Know, too, as Ross writes: “Shopping by importer helps you buy more strategically, because even if you don’t know the grape, the region or the producer, you know and trust the importer.”

Wine of the week: Les Maurins Reserve Bordeaux 2014

les maurinsThe biggest mistake I made with this wine was not buying a case after I tasted the first bottle. But I only bought two bottles the next time, and the Les Maurins was gone the third time I went back to the store.

Which is the catch for the Les Maurins ($7, purchased, 12%) – otherwise a $10 Hall of Fame wine. It’s an Aldi product in the U.S. (though apparently widely available in Europe), which means availability is always going to be a problem.

Which is incredibly frustrating, because this is a great cheap wine – not quite as well done as the $10 Chateau Bonnet Blanc, but very well done and so much better than most of the wine that costs $7 that I have to taste. For one thing, it’s a white wine from the Bordeaux region of France that tastes like white Bordeaux, with lemon-lime fruit, chalky minerality, and a very clean finish. It’s not too citrusy or too fruity, two common problems with cheap white Bordeaux (much of which isn’t all that cheap at $12 to $15).

So those of us in the 33 states with Aldi stores should watch for the Les Maurins. There is also a $7 Les Maurins red Bordeaux, which is apparently as equally as well made as the white and is a big hit in Australia. Hopefully, that will show up here sooner rather than later.

Will Aldi and Lidl change grocery store wine?

Aldi and Lidl

See all this wine? You won’t find it at Aldi and Lidl.

Will German discounters Aldi and Lidl change grocery store wine in the U.S. the way they’ve changed it in Great Britain? That’s the question to answer as Aldi grows to 2,000 stores over the next couple of years and Lidl opens its first stores on the east coast.

Because the chains have significantly changed the way wine is sold in Britain, not only forcing traditional retailers out of business but cutting sales at mainline grocers.

“You wouldn ?t have believed it possible five years ago, but Aldi and Lidl are now setting the pace in the U.K. supermarket wine trade,” writes Finoa Beckett in the Guardian newspaper. “Between them, the pair have 10 percent of the U.K. grocery market, with Aldi alone accounting for one in every 13 bottles of wine we buy.”

By comparison, Costco, considered the biggest wine retailer in this country, has about eight percent of the U.S. market, while Kroger may account for about four percent. In other words, two upstarts in the U.K. have done almost as well in that market as two multi-billion dollar retailers do here. What does that say about the way grocery stores have traditionally seen wine in the U.S.?

What accounts for the Aldi and Lidl success?

? Cut-throat pricing. Each does $10 wine, even allowing for exchange rate foibles, in a way we can only dream of here. Beckett recommends Lidl’s 6.99 (about US$10) Cremant de Limoux, sparkling wine from the Limoux region of France; a similar wine costs $16 here. And she says Aldi does a French red and South African white for 5.49 (about US$8), about two-thirds the price of each in the U.S.

? Supply chain brilliance. A British grocery store consultant told me the companies get such good prices because they make producers an offer the latter can’t refuse. The grocers will buy all of a vintage at one time, so that the producer is happy to sell at a lower price because it has the cash immediately and doesn’t have to wait for the wine to be sold over the course of the year.

? Smaller selection. The same consultant said that smaller selection translates into lower overhead and keeps costs down. “The traditional supermarkets’ massive range makes choosing hard for the 99 percent of consumers who have no idea what most of the wines are,” he explained. “And the discounters have been winning awards and getting plaudits for the quality of their wines, which when combined with their much cheaper prices is a sure fire winner for most consumers.”

That’s the good news. The bad news? So far, Aldi hasn’t shown it wants to do the same thing in the U.S. My local Aldi, as well as the others I’ve visited, has good prices and a small selection, but most of the wines are of indifferent quality — too much Winking Owl and not enough Vina Decana, and I’ve yet to find a white to buy regularly. If Lidl follows the Aldi example, we haven’t gained much.

Still, there is reason for optimism. Most experts ignored Aldi and Lidl when they entered the U.K., and now even ASDA, owned by Walmart, is suffering badly from the discounters’ success. Besides, given the sad state of cheap wine in the U.S., any sign for improved quality and value is welcome.

Winebits 409: Grocery store wine edition

grocery store wine ? Colorado wants grocery store wine: Which is not necessarily news. What’s different, though, is the latest campaign to change the state’s liquor laws to allow supermarkets to sell wine and beer. The arguments are much the same as elsewhere, in which liquor stores say they’ll face economic ruin if grocers sell beer and wine, and grocers talk about convenience and giving customers what they want. One difference, though: The pro-supermarket side has enlisted a former country sheriff on its side. That usually doesn’t happen, given that law enforcement is mostly on the anti-supermarket side.

? Tennessee gets closer to grocery store wine: The Volunteer state, which approved supermarket wine sales to start next July, is already seeing grocers get ready for the change. Said a Kroger manager in Knoxville: “We just finished a center store reset where we were preparing to have wine in the stores and as you can see we have added shelving here for wine and we ?ve added shelving here and we are going to have some refrigerated cases for wine as well.” Tennessee regulators expect 270 stores sell wine in 2016.

? Aldi, Lidl gaining market share: Traditional British supermarkets continue to lose ground to discounters Aldi and Lidl, both of which are known for the quality of their cheap wine. Each company’s sales rose 18 percent in the 12 weeks through Oct. 11, while Tesco and the Walmart-owned Asda saw sales drop in the low single digits. Those of us who are leery of rising wine prices should know that both chains succeed by undercutting their larger competition, and that Aldi is about to move into California and Lidl will open its first U.S. stores on the east coast sometime in the next year.

Winebits 405: Legal affairs edition

legal affairsBecause what fun would writing about wine be if we couldn’t write about lawsuits and other various legal affairs?

? Aldi brings in the lawyers: It’s difficult for those of us in the U.S. to understand how touchy the British are about price comparison advertising and marketing for booze; hopefully, this bit about Aldi suing a retailer over price comparison will help explain. The discount retailer wants competitor Bargain Booze to stop the ads, which compare its products to Aldi’s with the tagline that they you can buy a brand name for the same price as Aldi’s private label. Plus, Aldi wants damages. I’d love to watch a bunch of barristers in wigs argue about this, but as much fun as it would be, the suit would have little chance of success in the U.S. That’s ironic, too, given that our booze laws, thanks to three-tier, are so much stricter than those in Britain.

? Messing with Putin: Who knew that a geopolitical event like the Russian annexation of the Crimea would turn into a wine legal tussle? But it has, with Ukrainian prosecutors charging that the director of a winery in Russian-occupied Crimea opened a 240-year-old bottle for Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi. The Associated Press says that the two men illegally drank rare vintages from the Massandra winery, some worth tens of thousands of dollars, and that the winery director committed a crime by serving them the wine. Obviously, since the Russians control Crimea, nothing much will happen, but it’s another example of the power wine has over people. I wonder: did Putin and Berlusconi give the wines 95 points?

? Only in Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania’s state store system has come in for its fair share of criticism, here and elsewhere, but this one is the best yet. A state resident illegally brought wine into the state, which means he likely bought it in New Jersey and drove it over the William Penn bridge, committing a crime in the process. As part of his settlement with the state, he had to forfeit about half of the 2,447 illegal bottles. Silly enough? It gets worse. As Bloomberg News Service’s Noah Feldman writes, the state will destroy the wine because a judge has ruled that it can’t be given to a hospital for fund-raising, since hospitals don’t use wine for medicinal purposes. Don’t worry if you’re confused here, since the entire episode — in keeping with Pennsylvania’s warped state store system — makes no sense. Just read the link and wonder at how this happens in the 21st century.