Lidl seems to have made a bold decision to offer us wines from France’s most famous regions without charging us those regions’ usual prices. It’s probably best not to speculate on how they’ve achieved this. I’d prefer to sip my way through an example (or a few), and see whether they offer the stunning value for money that first impressions promise.
I picked the Chablis to get this trial started. But first, let’s have a quick run-down of what Chablis is.
Chablis is part of Burgundy, which is a huge region that runs down the East side of France. If you leave the heart of Burgundy’s wine-producing area and head North-West to Paris, you’ll cross through Chablis about half way through your journey.
Any wine labelled as ‘Chablis’ has to be made from Chardonnay grapes, and nothing else. It’s not enough for the wine just to have been made in the right place. And even though you might have drunk plenty of Chardonnay before, you haven’t tasted Chablis until you’ve tasted Chablis.
That’s enough context I think. Let’s move onto our example.
Chablis has a reputation for being visually appealing. I know we’re all keen to get to the tasting, but as the first bite of a dish is with eyes, so it is with the first sip of a wine. Our example does have all the brightness that’s associated with Chablis. It glints at you in the glass, crying out to be swirled, sipped and appreciated. Great start!
Give it that swirl and you don’t even need to put your nose in the glass to get a grassy aroma, with slightly underripe apples and a touch of lemon. This is typical, and it’s probably what prompts people to refer to Chablis as ‘austere’.
The apples and the lemon carry on to your palate, as long as you give them a fair chance. They hang around for a while after you’ve swallowed too. There’s probably also a hint of minerality, which is commonly seen as being the trademark of Chablis. And there’s the acidity, perhaps not as racey as it can be, but it’s unmissable and doesn’t pull any punches.
Job done then? No point in paying £10-£11 for an ‘entry level’ Chablis elsewhere when you can get this one for under £8? Well, not necessarily. I do have one complaint. Which is that this example somehow just doesn’t taste completely ‘clean’. It doesn’t have the purity of flavour that I look for in a dry, unoaked white. A perfectly acceptable wine for its price it may be, but you’d never get away with charging £10+.