Laithwaites - one introductory "Discovery" case and a couple of "mystery" cases.
The Discovery case is basically intended as a special offer for new customers - a mixture of wines with a significant discount against the list price, plus a couple of freebies thrown in; in this instance, three bottles of a basic Rioja plus a fancy corkscrew.
The mystery cases are pretty much just that - you pay £60 plus delivery and get wines with a minimum value of £90. Tantalisingly, there are a number of "golden ticket" cases worth up to £600, so there is potential for some serious bargains and superb wines.
A quick trawl through the Laithwaites website for details on the wines I had received showed that both my mystery cases were worth just a few pennies over £90, but that still represents a reasonable saving, given the cost was only £60 plus delivery. Added to that, I got an extra two bottles as a bonus for ordering two cases.
The wines in the mystery cases are all different and come with no tasting notes - however, as Laithwaites put details of all their wines on their website, it is not a big job to track each one down and get a basic description, price and sundry other details which give some clues as to what to expect.
List prices for the wines range from around £5 for a Sicilian red to £13 for a Sancerre and most of the wines come from the standard "usual suspect" regions for value wines - southern France, inland Spain, Australia. To be sure, there are not too many classic regions here, but I suspect that is not what Laithwaites are about - or certainly not their main focus.
However, there are a couple of more classy and potentially interesting wines - a Chilean Pinot Noir, a Bordeaux Superieur, a Sancerre, a Barossa and a NZ Pinot Noir.
I am slowly working my way through the mystery case wines and posting my thoughts on the Laithwaites website as I go - click here to keep up to date.
Not many Laithwaites customers seem to be doing this, as, with just a handful of reviews, I am already a "Top 25" reviewer; however, it's a great way for the company to get feedback on their wines. In fact, I am generally very impressed with how professional and focused Laithwaites is as a company - which may well be a topic for a future blog, along with some more opinion on the wines themselves.
As for the wines, in general, they have all been well made and pleasant and there certainly has not been a bad wine so far, but quite a few have been unmemorable and not ones that I would buy again. A number also do not quite live up to the billing they receive on the Laithwaites website.
Two particularly good ones, however, have been a rich Cab / Shiraz from La Mancha in Spain and a Bordeaux-style Merlot from the tiny (and high up) region of Yecla, also in Spain.
To be fair, I have started with the cheaper and more basic wines from the mystery case and it remains to be seen how well the more ambitious wines show.
See this posting on Laithwaites for more details on how I fell out of love with all this:
Laithwaites - http://www.laithwaites.co.uk/
Gran Oristan - http://www.laithwaites.co.uk/DWBase/jsp/templates/article/productDetails.jsp?productId=prod513723
Casa Virola - http://www.laithwaites.co.uk/DWBase/jsp/templates/article/productDetails.jsp?productId=prod502386