Anthony Rose: 'To compete with the Wine Societies of this world, you have to deliver good quality at a reasonable price

Are you in the club? The wine club, that is? Until recently, there was only one major home-delivery service in it– and that was The Wine Society, the venerable Victorian, non-profit-making organisation, whose Postman Pat-like vans deliver high-quality wines to grateful households the length and breadth of the country. You have to have a share to be a member, but a £40 share is a small price to pay for handsome dividends over a lifetime. I say until recently, because for my money, the other hugely successful wine home-delivery specialist, Laithwaites, never really looked like offering the same degree of consistent value.

With its book-club-style hard sell, Laithwaites is in some ways still the same success story built up over 40 years by Tony Laithwaite – since he started bringing it all back home from Bordeaux in a van. But judging by the company's recent autumn tasting, something for the better is going on at Reading-based Laithwaites. The buying team is stronger and more experienced than ever before and it seems to have taken on board that to compete with the Wine Societies of this world, you have to deliver not just bottles but quality at a reasonable price.

Among Laithwaites' superior sub-£10 offerings, I enjoyed the citrus-fresh zestiness of the 2008 Pikes Prospector's Riesling/Viognier, £8.99, and the impressively full-flavoured, white-burgundy butteriness of the 2007 Domaine Dupré Mâcon-Villages, £9.99.

Look at comparable values at The Wine Society and you'll find a fine, smoky Graves-like 2008 Château de la Grave Grains Fins Côtes de Bourg Blanc, £6.25, and from Galicia, the intriguing, ripe-pear-flavoured, juicily textured, deliciously dry 2008 Terra de Lobo Godello, Monterrei, £8.50.

Laithwaites' reds under a tenner included a powerful, spicy modern red from the Languedoc in the 2007 Dolines de l'Hortus Coteaux du Languedoc, £9.49, and a typically vibrant, red-fruited blend of sangiovese and cabernet in the mini-supertuscan 2006 Erte a China Rosso di Toscana, £9.99.

The Wine Society had its counterparts in a vivid, perfumed, rich plum and blackberry spicy 2007 Argentine Malbec, £9.95, and a scarlet pimpernel of a southern French red in the spicy, dark-berry fruit fragrant and vivid black fruits quality of the 2008 Domaine de la Jasse Castel Pimpanela, Montpeyroux Coteaux du Languedoc, £9.95.

I don't want to dwell on the sub-£10 wines when so much effort is now going into the fine-wine side at Laithwaites. The delightfully zingy, grapefruit-zesty 2008 Le Plein de Sens Jurançon, £12.49, is a case in point and along with it, a cracking white burgundy in the stylish, intense, nuttily full-flavoured 2007 Château de Puligny Saint-Romain, £23; on the reds front, Tony Laithwaites' own 2006 L'Expression de Margaux, £19, and Trapiche's superb, concentrated, old vine Argentinian malbec, the 2006 Viña Vilafane Single Vineyard Malbec, £22.

Yes, of course, the Wine Society can match this: just try the succulently cherry/ strawberry fruity 2004 Bodegas Bóhorquez Ribera del Duero, £17.95, or the to-die-for, voluptuously gamey 1996 Volnay, Domaine de la Pousse d'Or Premier Cru Caillerets, Clos des 60 Ouvrées, £33.

Suggested Topics
News
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Sport
footballIncluding Manchester United 'Halloween XI'
News
i100
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

    Sales Manager - Commercial Cable & Wire - UK

    £60,000 - £75,000: Recruitment Genius: As a top tier supplier to the major Aer...

    ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    Day In a Page

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes