Most of us presume that we know a thing or two about wine, but even the most passionate drinkers can be surprisingly unversed in the basics. The lofty terminology and confusing geography in winemaking hardly help- a formal education shouldn’t be a prerequisite to enjoy a bottle of wine, but it can help decipher a longwinded wine menu.
Sadly, we don’t all have personal access to a sommelier, but My Vitibox offers an attractive solution for wine lovers: a monthly subscription box service that delivers two bottles of wine paired with jargon-busting booklets, food pairings and tasting guides. My Vitibox aims to painlessly transition subscribers from novice to connoisseur.
To guarantee the standard of each month’s contents, My Vitibox collaborates with Alain Gousse, the former Head Sommelier of several high profile Michelin starred restaurants, who handpicks each bottle. The formula is simple: a glass of good wine is the harbinger of curiosity. Bolstered with the right vocabulary and an appreciation of aromas and flavours, subscribers will discover the nuances and pleasures of drinking wine.
The April 2016 box focuses on the maturation of wine and includes two bottles and two booklets. A My Vitibox branded bottle sleeve and dropstop were also thrown in as a welcome gift. The bottles arrived in a robust cardboard box fitted with a carrying handle. Everything inside was securely packed with the bottles snugly fitted inside a bed of straw to ensure that they didn’t rattle around. The packaging is advertised as ‘shockproof’ and it’s clear that the contents are fully protected from shattering inside.
My Vitibox- April 2016 Unboxed:
- One bottle of Domaine de L’Olivier (Côtes-du-Rhône)
- One bottle of Château Saint-Estève (Corbières)
- One tasting booklet
- One Maturation of Wine booklet
- Welcome gift of a branded bottle sleeve and dropstop
The tasting booklet contains an overview and description of each of the bottles included in the box. After opening the Domaine de L’Olivier’s Côtes-du-Rhône, I was curious to compare my initial impressions with the tasting notes. I enjoy reading about terroirs and vineyards when I come across a good bottle of wine, especially when I am unacquainted with the region. Pouring a glass, I immediately detected strong, dark fruits and some spicy aromas- the colour was a soft purple, however, hinting at a more balanced taste.
The flavour profile was clean and floral; the body was silky and light. I immediately liked how drinkable this style was, especially as a red. After checking the tasting card, it was revealed how this balance was achieved: the Côtes-du-Rhône style combines two grape varieties, the grenache and syrah- the former is noted to bring intensity to the wine, but this is tempered by the addition of the latter, which is a fresher, lighter grape. This explained the balanced complexity that I distinguished in my glass. My progression towards wine connoisseur had begun!
The second bottle was a Corbières from Château Saint-Estève. Once again, I was in strange waters and unfamiliar with this style- I poured a glass and found that it was a similar lively purple hue to the Côtes-du-Rhône. On the nose, it also shared some characteristics to the Côtes-du-Rhône, exhibiting earthy wood and spices with red fruits. I felt this bottle had a lighter body than the first with a dry finish, making it another pleasing- but slightly more complex- iteration of a red wine. Again referring to the tasting card, it’s noted that the profile of this wine makes it easy to pair with a wide range of foods.
The theme of April’s My Vitibox is the maturation of wine and both examples were selected because of the presence of maturation qualities in each. As explained in the information booklet, the maturation techniques used can influence the flavour and aromas of a wine- but oak barrels aren’t necessarily the superlative choice. Interestingly, maturation in oak barrels transforms the entire profile of the wine whereas steel or concrete vats do not- this isn’t ideal for every style of wine, however. Some wines don’t have a robust enough structure and the addition of new aromas from oak barrels will not pair well with the existing characteristics of the wine.
There are abundant variations of the wine subscription box on the market, but My Vitibox is a good example of a good concept that’s simple and well-executed. Relying on the expertise of a world-renowned sommelier gives it good pedigree; the team have also made the tasting experience an unpretentious event. There are no online portals to log into and no need to trawl through and select personal preferences for each box- even the information booklets and tasting notes are simple, straightforward and accessible.
This is a wine box for those who want a stress-free approach to discovery: the selection is left in the hands of an expert and the theme of each box varies to showcase one element connecting both bottles. Two boxes are available: the Red Passion box (£36 for a one-off box plus shipping with three, six and twelve month options available) and the Colour & Flavours box (£27 for a one-off box plus shipping with three, six and twelve month options available).
I enjoyed sampling two new and interesting wines and My Vitibox is another good variation of the wine subscription box genre. It’s not as flashy as some and not as interactive as others- however, there is a Facebook page, and subscribers can also tweet the team with any wine-related or food pairing queries. The selection is vetted for you, so it doesn’t require any feedback or maintenance on your side. This is the perfect choice for a wine drinker who just wants two good bottles to show up on their doorstep each month.
Given the price point- which will be over £30 for a one-off box with shipping- this is still affordable enough for a gift, but likely isn’t aimed at someone who doesn’t already have an interest in wine- if you’re willing to pay £15 for a bottle of a good iteration, and if you have an interest in wine and food pairings, then you’ll be raising a glass to My Vitibox.