Earlier this month, Lidl hosted its Christmas Wine Tour press tasting, and the chain’s wine consultant Richard Bampfield MW (pictured) was on hand to tell Lucy Britner more about it
This year’s selection comprises around 25 wines and the company says the Wine Tour activation allows the BWS department to offer customers additionally selected wines alongside the core range. The collection is designed to be “something special” for the Christmas table or for gifting.
“As ever with Lidl, I’m never quite sure what to expect,” says Richard Bampfield MW, who consults with the supermarket as lead taster. “We’ve got wines from Eastern Europe, wines from South Africa, from Italy, Canada – a bit of everything.”
There are also the usual festive suspects, he says, including Champagne and claret.
His highlights include Vidal Ice Wine 2020 – a vintage he describes as “really good”. Bampfield also champions Hungarian white Gedeon Birtok Zold Veltelini 2021. “It’s Hungarian for Grüner Veltliner and it’s light, crisp and appetising.
“Red: I love the claret but I think my favourite is the Monsaraz Reserva 2020 from Portugal – it’s a beautiful example, I think, of the modern Portuguese red.”
When it comes to sparkling, Bampfield mentions vintage Champagne and he also says the supermarket will be offering an English sparkling rosé.
“One of the other highlights is the 10-year-old Tawny port, which punches way above its weight, price-wise.”
Though Bampfield isn’t involved with pricing, he says prices “look consistent with last year”.
“We know there’s pressure on prices but when I was looking at the prices, I didn’t think ‘gosh they have really gone up’. I think they are probably relatively consistent.”
Those who’ve have scanned the Lidl BWS shelves will know Bampfield writes accompanying notes.
“I think a couple of sentences is plenty,” he says. “Sometimes just one, and I don’t necessarily try to describe the wine. I think wine descriptions can sometimes actually be off-putting in a way, because people can feel inadequate if they can’t smell the hedgerow or elderflower, or whatever people pick up.”
Instead, Bampfield looks for a USP.
“It could be a special grape variety, it might be an unusual origin for that great variety. It could be a particularly good vintage, it could be a really interesting producer.”
He’s also keen to pair wines with occasions. “I try and work out if the wine is suited to a particular occasion. I try and be helpful in terms of putting the wine into context.”