Wine Tips & Picks From The Experts |
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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…


Chablis 1Er Cru Côte De Jouan 2015, from £20.90 | Maison Mathias

An elegant and aromatic wine that’s perfect for a special occasion. Fresh and vibrant with a lovely honeyed note.

Pair With: Drink with cheeses for an aperitif and pair with chicken in cream sauce for the main dish.

Expression 2015, from £7.90 | Château Le Grand Verdus

A beautiful white wine from a protected region in the AOC Bordeaux Supérieur area that's easy to drink and elegant.

Pair With: Excellent with fried fish, seafood tempura and oysters.

Mâcon-Villages 2015, from £13.90 | Maison Paul Benoit

A delicious Chardonnay from Burgundy – fruity and buttery with floral notes. The beautiful minerality and freshness make it perfect for summer, and it’s a real crowd pleaser.

Pair With: Seafood. Try with fresh langoustines, prawns a la plancha or grilled fish.


Equinoxe 2016, from £13.50 | Domaine Des Lauzières

A delicate and well-balanced rosé from Provence with a soft and fresh taste and a well-defined finish.

Pair With: A wonderful accompaniment to seafood such as sea bream or grilled prawns. Keep it for dessert too, as it pairs well with chopped strawberries and mint.

Fanette 2016, from £8.90 | Terre De Mistral

One of the favourites for the season, the Fanette is a unique, soft and fruity blend made especially for Le Petit Ballon, so it really is one of a kind.

Pair With: This is a fantastic barbecue wine as it’s so versatile. Pair it with almost anything: grilled meats, white fish or vegetables. Drink as an aperitif too, as it’s perfect with cheeses and charcuterie.

Grissly 2016, from £11.90 | Clos de l'Ours

Made in a family-run organic vineyard in Provence (the home of rosé), this bottle is fresh and tasty – expect an explosion of fruits on the palate, with notes of strawberry, raspberry, redcurrants and pomegranate.

Pair With: A drink for summer Sunday roasts that pairs perfectly with lamb and rosemary, roast chicken and stuffed vegetables.


Tempranillo Madurado 2015, from £9.90 | Lar de Paula

A complex and balanced wine from the Rioja region in Spain with a velvety finish of black and red fruits, vanilla and pepper.

Pair With: This summer red  is one to drink with pork sausages and stuffed cabbage. For a lighter option, pair with salmon in a red wine sauce.

Jau Jau Ier 2012, from £16.50 | Château de Jau

One of the best wines we’ve tasted this year. A voluptuous and finely spiced blend, the balance and structure of this wine will impress guests.

Pair With: Drink with a satisfying vegetable risotto.

Mapuche 2015, from £10.90 | Domaine Las Ninas

An exclusive cuvée for Le Petit Ballon, straight from Chile. This bottle blends Carmenère, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to create a powerful, juicy wine.

Pair With: The richness and density make this wine perfect to pair with burgers and soft cheeses.


Vigna Di Sarah - Prosecco Borgo Di Luna 2015, from £9.90 | Borgo Luna

This wine is a wonderful expression of the Glera grape variety with freshness and verve. A real treat by itself or as a base for summer cocktails.

Pair With: A picnic or brunch, the fine and creamy bubbles also go perfectly with fresh cheese.


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