At the start of 2011 I resolved to spend my wine budget more freely, rather than getting overexcited in the Waitrose sale, snaffling a couple of cases from the Wine Society somewhere along the line and not really having much time, space or money left for anything else. And I succeeded spectacularly well, placing my first orders with a good half-dozen merchants, and even dipping my toe into the world of auctions. In many ways I succeeded much too well, and much too often, so as a result this year’s resolution is to scale back a bit, and to make sure my wine fridge never overflows. Promisingly, I’ve already let a couple of new year sales pass me by, and for my first wine purchase of the new year I went back to a familiar source.
For some time I’ve seen the Wine Society occasionally offer “mystery” mixed cases of wine without ever being seriously tempted, but this year I had a change of heart. The worst that could possibly happen, I decided, is that I feel ripped off and get myself a furious blogpost with which to start 2012, which wouldn’t be so bad. So I spent £79 on six mysterious “fine wines”, the cheapest of their secret cases (which go up to £220 for six clarets), which was to contain four reds and two whites, comprised of a Claret, a Rhône and a white Burgundy plus either a red Burgundy or a Beaujolais, a white and a premium non-French red. I was promised a saving of £15.
This is what I got:
Bourgogne Les Pince Vin 2005, Alain Burguet (TWS are currently selling the 2006 for £19)
Chateau Bel Air Perponcher 2006 (TWS are selling the 2009 for £8.95)
Barone Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico 2006 (winedirect are selling the 2009 for £14.50)
Perrin Rasteau l’Andeol 2007 (AG Wines are selling for £14.29)
Domaine Gauby Vieilles Vignes Cotes Catalanes 2007 (AG Wines are selling for £25.99)
Pouilly-Fuisse “Vers Puilly”, Chateau de Beauregard 2009 (Which I can’t find anywhere else, though James Nicholson have their “Vers Cras” cuvee for £26.99).
Those retail prices add up to £109.72, which makes my saving considerably higher than advertised (almost exactly double the £15 they promised, in fact). Of course, the downside of this kind of case is that you end up with wines you wouldn’t necessarily have chosen yourself, but I find that (subject to certain minimum standards being met) I enjoy wines I probably wouldn’t ordinarily have bought myself (but did anyway) at least as much as those I would. In this case, the Bordeaux and the two Burgundies stand out as the wines least likely to have found their way into my house any other way.
If I have a complaint with my case it’s that they could have thrown in a wine from the new world, or more from places that aren’t France. If you push me for a second, it’s that the Wine Society seem mildly obsessed with flogging me Chianti Classico, having already sold me six bottles of Brolio’s 2007 (and a couple of others) through a Vintage Cellar Plan (another way for them to decide what wines they sell you) I share with a couple of friends.
I write this, incidentally, while sipping a classy, creamy zibibbo (that’s a grape), Pietranera from Marco De Bartoli in Sicily, bought from the brilliant Les Caves de Pyrene during my adventurous 2011. If only they only offered cut-price mystery mixed cases…