Lidl, as ever, has a weird and wonderful wine portfolio just now. Maybe due to price, but they’re so often at the forefront, buying wines from the lesser-known regions and giving them a platform to really shine.
At the moment they’ve got some great batches from Hungary – best know for its production of Tokaji (I bought a bottle of that, too – tasting notes to follow), but with a moderate climate and good hillsides for growing grapes. Non-dessert wines from Hungary are usually unoaked, and drunk young – often blended but gaining importance in their own right as people hunt around for newer, cheaper options.
This was a surprising one. I was with my mum, who’s a die-hard Pinot Noir fan (out of habit, I think), so we went for this on the basis that it would taste the same. The difference was literally like eating a bland cherry pie from the freezer aisle of the local supermarket, and actually heading to anywhere in Eastern Europe and eating homemade cherry pie coupled with soft, dense cultured cream and a cup of strong coffee.
(Please excuse the photos – normally I go for natural light and a decent glass, but needs must – it’d been a long day!)
Name: Lellei Pinot Noir
Vineyard/Country: Balatonlellei, Hungary (PDO)
Price (mls): £5.99
Colour / Intensity: A ghostly pale ruby (you could read a book through it)
Nose: Classic Pinot Noir aromas of ripe Morello cherries, parma violets and slightly confected raspberries – more like a jam doughnut
Taste: Dry with high acid and what felt like alcohol (though only 12.5% ABV). The tannins were medium but noticeable, and it had a light-medium body. So far, so normal. The sour cherry kick is zingy enough to wake you up, but in a good way. Combined with those red plum flavours coming through, it is honestly like a mouthful of fruity homemade pie with just the right amount of sugar. Less sweetness is often a good thing.
Rating: 8 – the price brings the rating up, for sure
Good for: A Pinot Noir is often a classic match with meats – seared duck, or even roast pork – it’s not overpowering but has enough flavour to make it playful and noticeable. We had it with cheese – just by chance, and that sourness really cut through the softer mouthfeel of the cheeses: Brie de Meaux was a total surprise, as was a fresh, pungent Scottish blue. Each seemed to temper the other, which is maybe not what the aim is, but it worked for us. Try it and see what you think!
Disclaimer: All of my tasting notes are totally personal, based on what I can smell, taste and savour about whatever it is I’m drinking. They might not match the original tasting notes exactly – I’m ok with that, because this is a space for practising, flexing my tastebuds, and learning more.