Anthony Rose: 'Along with exclusive labels, Laithwaites prides itself on value for money'

 

It's a measure of how far the company has come since Tony Laithwaite hawked his wares in a Ford van that Laithwaites felt bold enough to put a selection of fine wines into its autumn wine tasting. Starting out as Bordeaux Direct, Laithwaites is part of the Direct Wines empire that includes the Sunday Times Wine Club, Avery's and virginwines.com. It must have been a tricky decision because 'fine wine' can be a no-no for value seekers. And along with exclusive labels, Laithwaites prides itself on value for money.

Though the value of St Emilion's 2009 Château l'Angélus has been bloated by a recent leg-up to first growth status, I doubt customers will be forming a queue to snap it up at £255 a pop, as fabulous as this wine unquestionably is. By comparison, the cedar-scented, dark berry flavoured 2009 L'Epiphanie à Tertre Daugay, £30, is a relative snip. Back on terra firma, the 2010 Le Grand Chai Haut-Médoc, £12.99, made by the group's experienced winemaker, Jean-Marc Saboua, is a claret of distinction.

The Rhône selection includes a seductively perfumed 2010 Domaine Yann Chave Le Rouvre, £19.99, all pepper and svelte blackberry. From Italy, there's a succulent mouthful of intense raspberryish fruit in the 2008 Vigna Pedale Riserva, Castel del Monte, £18.99, and a mouthwateringly savoury, sweet-and-sour cherryish 2007 Castello di Bossi 'Berardo' Chianti Classico Riserva, £25. If it's all too much for you, the 2010 Château Millegrand Mourral Grande Reserve, Minervois, £8.99, brings respite in the form of spicy red-fruited autumnal solace.

With its temperature-controlled Stevenage warehouses chock full of member's reserves, you'd expect The Wine Society to ooze fine wine through the pores. Yet by investing profit into margins, the non-profit making club has cut prices on 400 wines. Value really is its stock in trade and it showed at its autumn tasting with offers like six for the price of five, so £22.50, on its own tongue-tingling Society's Champagne. Similarly for its fragrantly limey and mineral-dry 2009 Society's Exhibition Riesling, £11.95, from Josmeyer, and the succulently exuberant and cherry-laden 2010 Society's Exhibition Morgon Côte du Puy, £8.95.

The 2009 Château de Camarsac, £8.95, is a juicy modern claret, while the ripe, fresh, berry fruit of the north Italian 2011 Hofstätter Joseph Lagrein, £11.50, makes it an affordable rosso. The Society's 2006 Exhibition Gigondas, Saint-Cosme, £12.50, is a model of richly-spiced liquid plum cake. You might even push the boat out with a hauntingly Margaux-esque Bordeaux blend from Western Australia, in the 2010 Night Harvest 'John George' Cabernet Sauvignon, £25. It goes without saying that the one-off £40 share cost is money more than well spent.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all