If Friday night usually means winding down with a bottle of red, having a selection of wine carefully curated by a master sommelier and delivered to your door may seem like the dream. Enter Le Petit Ballon, the subscription service combining expert knowledge with unique vintages to ensure your picks are so much more than well-marketed supermarket plonk. We caught up with the team to discover how it works and find out their top wines for summer…
What is Le Petit Ballon?
A unique wine subscription that works directly with vineyards themselves. All wines have been selected by master sommelier, Jean-Michel Deluc. Each month, you’ll get to taste great wines you won’t find in a supermarket as well as learning a bit about them. If you’re not up for a subscription, there’s also an online shop to purchase individual bottles – and the prices are refreshingly affordable, so you know you’re getting the best deal.
How does it work?
Sign up through the website, choose how long you want to subscribe (a monthly rolling contract or three, six or 12 months pre-paid), and pick the type of subscription: Grape Expectations, which showcases wines from lesser known vineyards, or Age of Raisin, for more prestigious labels. You can cancel, skip a month or pause your subscription whenever you like.
And what do you get?
A monthly box, which includes two bottles of wine – valued higher than you’ll have paid, tasting notes for each of the wines and at least 20% discount on any additional bottles you'd like. Plus, your online wine profile stores information about your preferences and tastes to help the experts at Le Petit Ballon recommend additional wines you’ll love.
What makes it different from buying from a shop or the supermarket?
Whether it’s an original blend produced in conjunction with the winemaker or one of their bestsellers, each wine is of exceptional quality and you won’t find it in a supermarket. The sommelier tastes over 12,000 wines a year, selecting only the very best each month.
Okay, so what are the golden rules of wine shopping?
Try not to be fooled by a pretty label without paying attention to what’s inside; choose bottles that have “bottled on the estate” on the label, so you know they haven’t been altered by a third party; and when it comes to awards, look at the year it was awarded and remember that the quality of a wine can change dramatically from year to year.
Top wines under £10?
With wine, expensive doesn’t always mean good – the most important thing is to know your taste. If you like red, try Okoma 2015 from Marrianne Wine Farm in South Africa, £8.90 for subscribers. It’s a full-bodied wine with a fruity finish that pairs well with spaghetti Bolognese or chorizo pizza. For white, Initiale 2016 from Le Vigneron Savoyard is just £9.90 for subscribers and is ideal for sushi night – it has a thirst-quenching acidity and a rich, honey flavour with notes of peach and apricot. But if you’re more of a rosé fan, they don’t get much better than Fanette 2016, which is soft, fruity and perfect for a barbecue.
Any recommendations to take to a dinner party?
Although everyone has different preferences, a dinner party wine should be a crowd pleaser, something tasty that’s easy on the palette. If you aren’t sure about the menu then take a versatile wine that can be paired with anything. The Mâcon-Villages 2015 from the Paul Benoit estate is always a hit.
Top tips for storing wine?
Just follow the four rules: cool, dark, dry and no smells. The ideal temperature for storing wine is 13°C, so think of somewhere in the house that remains cool without being damp. Also, remember to store cork top bottles lying down, so the cork remains elastic.
If you don’t finish the bottle, how should you store the remainder?
The idea is to keep oxygen out of the bottle as much as possible, so re-cork the wine after every glass pour and store the wine upright to minimise the surface area exposed – it should stay fresh in a fridge for up to five days. You could also re-bottle the wine in a smaller container.
The Best Wines For Summer…
For more information, visit LePetitBallon.com
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