Since my local Oddbins closed I’d been wondering where I’d get some more interesting wine in future. While Tesco’s delivery service is nicely reliable, and they often have some excellent bargains, by their very nature they tend to be, well, I suppose you’d say safe. Reasonable quality, but nothing unexpected, which was always the joy of wandering into Oddbins, where, often with the aid of the staff’s quirky handwritten labels, or their special deals, I discovered some wines that I’d never have tasted otherwise. It’s thanks to Oddbins that I discovered the lovely Gemtree Tadpole Shiraz, and learned that Prosecco is one of my favourite things ever.
But times change, shops close, and we must move on. My first attempt at finding a new supplier was with a discount case from Virgin Wines. I’d glanced at them before, but never got round to ordering until I found myself holding a £40 voucher, which got me a case of twelve bottles for a very reasonable price. I was moderately impressed with the selection, but not seriously impressed.
About a month after that, I had another offer, this time from Laithwaites. I’d heard of them, and what I’d heard was generally very favourable, so an introduction to their “Seasons” packagage which cost about £48 including delivery looked like a Good Thing. That got me six bottles of white and six of red. I’ve sampled a few of the bottles, and I am really impressed. I don’t know if it’s the weather, or me getting older, or something else, but I’m finding myself drawn to white wines lately, after years of being an almost exclusive red wine drinker. And of the wines in this case, I was seriously impressed with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Split Rock. Now NZ Sauvignon Blanc has an excellent reputation – most people will at least have heard of Cloudy Bay, which used to be renowned as much for being hard to get hold of as its quality. I’ve tasted some Cloudy Bay, and it was indeed very good, but I think Split Rock comes pretty close, and as it’s half the price, it seems like a better option to me. I’ll be getting some more of that.
Laithwaites have an excellent selection of wines to order, including a very tasty Prosecco (which solves my other lack of Oddbins problem). You can buy any of their mixed cases, single wines by the half dozen or dozen, or indeed make up your own mixed cases by picking whichever wines you want, which is something that beats Tesco’s.
The “Seasons” thingy that I’ve signed up for gives you the option of getting a mixes case (reds, whites or half and half, you choose) every two or three months (the frequency is up to you). Before they send the wine, they let you know what’s in the case, and you can either do nothing and have the case delivered, decline it, or (and this is the really nifty bit) go online and effectively design your own mixed case. Want three bottles of this and only one bottle of that? No problem. Want to pick some different wines from a selection of as many as thirty? Yup, that’s fine, too.
The mixed case came with a booklet giving tasting notes on all the wines, and discount offers for all the wines in the case. That’s another thing you don’t get from supermarkets.
I’ll probably still take up the occasional offer from Tesco’s, but I can see Laithwaites being the main filler of my wine rack in future.