Tag Archives: Prosecco

Lidl’s Value-for-Money Bubbly for Valentine’s Day

Prosecco, eh? We’re drowning in the stuff here in Ireland. The vast majority of it though – and I’m talking 90%-95% at least – is thin, insipid plonk. So why do we love it so?

Setting aside our inexplicable love of flavourless things (I’m looking at you too, Pinot Grigio), the famous Italian bubbly is relatively cheap. Prosecco either comes as spumante (full fizz) or frizzante (light fizz). The latter falls under the duty bracket for ‘still wine’, which is exactly half that of fully sparkling wine (don’t get me started on that palaver), meaning that you can get your bubbly kicks for cheap with Prosecco frizzante.

How do you tell the difference? Easy: Prosecco frizzante – the cheap stuff – has a tacky string over the cork, which itself needs a corkscrew to extract it, given that the low pressure isn’t enough to push out the cork itself (and thereby give the satisfying ‘pop’ we know and love).

So when I was offered a sample of Lidl’s new organic Prosecco spumante just before New Year’s, I was interested, and expected something nice but unremarkable to be honest. What I got instead was something rare: Prosecco with actual flavour built-in. It has a creamy, biscuity butteriness that might be described as autolytic, had it been bottle-matured, but that’s highly doubtful. However it’s made – for Lidl wine details are infamously opaque – it doesn’t really matter, as it’s really quite tasty.

Some may baulk at the €14.99 price, and eye up instead a €7 bottle of Prosecco frizzante next to it. Don’t. Remember that this is fully sparkling and so the bubbles will last much longer in the glass. It’s also far more than twice as good as something half the price. And, need it be said, it’s organic to boot, meaning you’re practically saving the planet drinking the stuff.

Viticoltori Organic Prosecco is €14.99 from 154 Lidl stores nationwide.


The Lidl French Wine Selection for Easter 2015

Lidl invited me to taste through a range of French wines they’ll be introducing to Irish stores this Easter, appearing on-shelf from Monday 3rd March.

I’m always impressed by how both Lidl and Aldi manage to source some really decent wines for pittance, a skill which they are both getting better at and gaining recognition for. OK, they may not be the most complex wines that are representative of their terroir or vintage, but they do tend to be very enjoyable for very little money, and for that they should be lauded.

So below are my picks of the wines they’ll have in-store from next week, but first a round-up of the sparkling wines which they have available year-round…



The Bubbles


Prosecco Treviso Frizzante
€7.99, available all year round
This is a simple, very fruit-forward fizz tasting mostly of pear drops. Not exactly interesting but it really is unbeatable at this price.

Arestel Cava
€10.49, available all year round
I was a little amazed at how muted this was – not bad, but not good either, just … meh. So not a terrible decision if you’re desperate for some fully-sparkling bubbly at a ridiculous price like this, just don’t expect any typical Cava character.

Marquis de Plagne, Crémant d’Alsace
€12.99, available all year round
Though the nose is nice and floral, the palate is simple and inoffensive. Still, an OK steely sparkler from an often over-looked region.

Comte de Brismand Champagne
€19.99, available all year round
A relatively simple and straightforward Champagne, some floral characteristics and noticeable acidity. A little aggressive initially it softens out to a creamy but still slightly tart palate. Twice as good as, say, Moet et Chandon, at half the price.

Bissinger & Co. Champagne Premium Cuvée
€29.99, from 2nd February until stocks last
Ironically, this is positively stratospheric price-wise in Lidl terms, but relative to Champane prices everywhere else outside of the German discounters you’re only really getting started at €30.
It’s hard not to call this a “baby Bollinger”, given the rich grilled nuts aromas and the equally rich and creamy, brioche-tinged palate. Granted, the length is only medium and the bubbles could be finer, but at €30 this is a steal.


 The Whites

To be honest the whites were disappointing, with the majority of them being flabby and lacking in the crucial acidity needed for some decent balance. This is despite the inclusion of an Alsace Gran Cru for a paltry €12.99, but even that didn’t warrant its price tag, despite its esteemed provenance.

Lidl Pouilly FumeThere was, however, one diamond in the rough for me, but at €12.99 for this I’d still opt for, say, Aldi’s excellent Gavi at €8 approx. any time:


Les Vignes de Saint Laurent l’Abbaye, Pouilly-Fumé 2013
This had some nice smoky/flinty notes on the nose and lively white stone fruit on the palate with gooseberry and asparagus showing. OK at this price.



The Reds: Bordeaux


Lidl Chateau ArnaudChâteau Arnaud 2012
A really quite nice ‘entry level’ Bordeaux: blackcurrant and oak, with a rich enough palate and nice tannin. Everything present and correct.


Lidl Chateau PithivierChâteau Pithivier 2011
Much richer nose than the Arnaud with dark red fruit evident over a soft lush palate with noticeable blackcurrant. Very good.


Lidl Chateau de ClotteChâteau de Clotte, Côtes de Castillon 2010
The most  complex nose thusfar with cedar and blackcurrant trading blows over a light a fragrant palate


Lidl Domaine la RocheDomaine la Roche, Pessac-Léognan 2008
The joint oldest vintage in the tasting, this had a beautiful perfumed nose with black tea and evident oak. The palate was nicely balanced and flavoursome. It’s rare to get a readily-aged Bordeaux from one of the best vintages of the last decade in your local German discounter for €20, so I’ll be picking up a bottle of this to try again at home.


Lidl L’Enclos de Chateau Saint PeyL’Enclos de Château Saint Pey, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2011
This had a bloody, meaty fragrance, which isn’t as unappealing as it sounds, promise! The palate was supple and rich(ish) with nicely integrated tannin. Very good and a great price.


Lidl Tour de LarozeTour de Laroze, Margaux 2008
The other oldest vintage in the tasting. All was present and correct here but I felt there was better value to be had at lower price points. It was nice, though, and great if you feel the pressure to have the famous Margaux name on your dining room table.



The Reds: Rhône


Château Notre Dame des Veilles, Côtes-du-Rhône 2013
A ridiculous price for a CDR, though its flavour profile was very much on the lighter, bubblegum and boiled sweets side of things.


Lidl Saint JosephSaint-Joseph 2012
Again, another ridiculous price, but then this is Lidl after all. This was really very good, with a smoky, black pepper nose with some grilled meat evident. It had a silky peppery palate that was soft and spicy. I’ll definitely be picking up a bottle on my travels for this money.


Lidl VacqueyrasSerabel Vacqueyras 2012
Though the nose was rather muted the palate was better, with floral rose and cherry flavours with some raspberry. The Saint-Joseph is much better in my opinion but it’s good to have options.

At Last, a Prosecco I Actually Like! (…Well…)

Here at The Motley Cru, we (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’) am not given to discrimination, pretension, bigotry, and/or any other words you would care to use that allude to a state of mind where I outright condemn a grape varietal, country, region and/or method for its sake alone. I’m an equal-opportunities drinker, and believe all wines should be approached in their own right with all baggage left at the door, as I’m sure most concerning wine lovers do.

That said I do have an issue with Prosecco, at least the stuff that’s readily available here in Ireland. Firstly, a quick couple of facts:

1) Duty on ‘sparkling wine’ – which covers everything from Champagne, Cava, New World fizz and, yes, Prosecco – attracts exactly double the duty than still wine here in Ireland; a whopping €5.56 per bottle before VAT in fact. Why this is the case completely eludes me; perhaps the only sparkling wine that the mandarins in Dáil Éireann are used to is Champagne that routinely retails above €50 and where an extra €5 or so wouldn’t make much of a dent to their expense accounts, all the while not being cognisant of how much of a difference that sum can make to a €14-€15 Cava, for example. Either way we’re stuck with it, and it was made all the worse by the incredibly brutal increase in wine duty in the recent budget, which everyone knows increased the excise on a bottle of wine by €1, but not many realise that following from above this means an increase of €2 per bottle of bubbly. A pitiful situation, but there you have it.

2) Prosecco comes in two styles: fully sparkling (‘Spumante‘) and lightly sparkling (‘Frizzante‘). Only the Spumante falls under the duty band for sparkling wine, while Frizzante is considered a still wine as it doesn’t have the full pressure to categorise it as a fully sparkling wine. Ever needed to use a corkscrew to remove a cork from a bottle of fizz instead of it just popping? That’s a Frizzante fizz for you.

The result is, you’ve guessed it, that we see far more Frizzante Prosecco here than Spumante since the final price on shelf is going to be at few Euro cheaper than its sister wine. As such Frizzante Prosecco is often under the psychologically important €10 mark (or at least regularly promoted to this level), with all other fully sparkling wines firmly trapped above it.

The problem with this is that the bubbles, being only semi-sparkling, tend to fizz out very quickly, often leaving you with some insipid flabby fruit juice in the glass, and at which point I become rankled, again, by the stuff. But it’s cheap, and it’s the economy stupid, so Frizzante Prosecco is bought by the lorryload all over Ireland.

Mionetto Vivo

So imagine my surprise when I was handed (with my eyes rolling I must admit) a glass of Prosecco at a function recently, only to be taken aback by its quality: it was rich, toasty, interesting, and what’s more fully sparkling, a rarity where volume and cost are issues. I rushed to find out what it was I had been served: Mionetto Vivo, a new Spumante readily available in O’Brien’s, and though it wasn’t sub-€10 it was only €11 on promo – result!

I later bought a bottle and enjoyed it at home, and proudly pronounced that I had found my ‘Cava-killer’, the Spanish sparkling that was heretofore my go-to for easy weekday (read: cheap) fizz.

But then Google threw up an uncomfortable reality: it wasn’t actually Prosecco at all. Prosecco is made with the Glera grape, whereas Mionetto Vivio is made with the unusual combination of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Verduzzo and Pinot Blanc, so not Prosecco per se, though it is from a renowned Prosecco producer and from the same region.

Still, this is still a fantastic fizz and will most certainly be my sparkler of choice for easy entertaining, especially when O’Brien’s run it at 2 for €22, which they often will I’m sure.

Mionetto Vivo
€12.99 or 2 for €22 in O’Brien’s
Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Verduzzo and Pinot Blanc (no evidence as to the proportions though)