Aldi launches first English still wine as crisp whites “gather momentum”

Aldi has launched an English still wine into its aisles for the first time, as the trend for crisp, crunchy, acidic wines gathers momentum, fuelled by last year’s long hot summer.

Ald said it was the right time to launch an English still wine, Exquisite Collection Lyme Block English wine 2018

Aldi’s Exquisite Collection Lyme Block English wine 2018

The discounter has added an exclusive signature white Bacchus-Pinot Blanc blend from Lyme Bay Winery into its Exquisite Collection, which will be available  in store and online from 18 March. The 48% Bacchus, 26% Pinot Blanc, 9% Solaris and 17% other varietal blend comes of the back of a new partnership with the innovative Axminster–based winery, and made in collaboration with Lyme Bay’s head winemaker Liam Idzikowski.

Speaking to the drinks business at yesterday’s Spring tasting, Aldi buyer Mike James said that last summer’s scorching summer made it the year “to make a go of it” with English still wine, adding that it tapped into the growing demand for crisp, crunchy white wines and rosés, which had gained momentum over the summer.

“It was almost a manifestation that the trend was there already, customers were already moving onto that style of wine, so the great summer was all about that impetus. To crack on with that, we’ve thrown caution to the wind but even if it’s a grey day (like today) for the rest of the summer, customer’s palate are now tuned that style of wine,” he said.

“Customers are having fewer preconceptions and less barriers to purchase, and thinking ‘I’ll give this a go, and if I like it, I’ll buy it again’,”

“Those seafood wines are really what people are after, so there are a lot on those types of styles.”

James said the team had therefore “bigged up” the range with that style, adding a number of Galician whites including an Albanta Albariño 2018 (rrp: £7.99) and some “exciting” whites from Portugal, including Animus Vinho Verde 2018 (rrp: £4.79) and a single variety Avesso from producer The Wine Foundry (rrp: £6.49) Picpoul de Pinet and Exquisite Collection Muscadet (rrp: £5.69)

“Hopefully what Aldi does well is bring the right wines to markets but not necessarily your go-to Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, something a bit different,” James explained.

“What’s nice is that, like the Avesso and the English Bacchus blend, we’ve not just beating the Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. Yes of course they are hugely important wines for all of us, but we like to think we’re a bit quirky and able to push new and innovative styles and varieties out to people.”

“We’ve got the loyalty from our customers so that when it goes on sale, they trust it’s going to be a good wine for the price.”

A good example of this trend was the Clare Valley Riesling, he said, which had been in the range for a number of years but became a “star performer” over the summer, and has continued to see strong sales well into January and February. James said this was indicative that the trend for these styles had gathered momentum and was here to stay.

“Customers are buying into it and maybe that’s because they were pushed towards it over the summer, but then realised that the style was appealing to them and they’re continuing to buy it now.”

It has also extended its range of rose – which James said was “massive last year”, particularly those in the popular Cote de Provence style, and a number of Portuguese reds.

“We’ve had massive success with Portuguese reds such as the Douro, so now we’re expanding into Dão,” he explained. “We’re very much banging the Portuguese drum, it’s a great place to get great quality, good value wines in a style the customers love.

“It has been an exciting place for us, and continues to be – a recent article in the drinks business talked about the growth of Portuguese’s wine in the UK and we’re largely responsible for that, so it has been great to be there early on.”

Seeing that “huge, double-digit growth” in Portuguese wine pointed out an important lesson on getting the style right, he said.

“We got the style right into what was essentially a very small part of the market and people loved it, and it grew and grew and grew. It’s then just about understanding what people liked about it – easy-drinking well-made wines, that’s what you’ll get with Dão.”

“That’s an important lesson for wine buyers on what to sell.”

The retailer is also set to expand its selection of Eastern European wines in the near future.

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