For June 2016, My Vitibox heralds the unsung heroes of renowned winemaking regions. This is a subscription box that wants subscribers to foster an appreciation for wine by stripping back the language used and uncovering the secrets to identifying a good bottle. With a little guidance, the team at My Vitibox aim to transform any novice drinker into a connoisseur- and this can be achieved by maintaining an accessible tone and playful approach. It’s a brilliant way to keep the enjoyment and education of wine a pleasurable task that isn’t burdensome or a chore.
Working in partnership with Alain Gousse, a highly respected sommelier currently stationed at Pavillon de la Rotonde in Lyon, My Vitibox’s monthly magazine includes succinct articles exploring a unified theme. June’s box is centred on the taste of wine, a useful skill that can be perfected while sampling the two bottles of wine included in the box. This month, Alain invites subscribers to become familiar with lesser known and surprising iterations to demonstrate the versatility of some winemakers.
Packaged securely in a shockproof cardboard box, the bottles are fortified inside and nestled amid a soft bedding of hay-like material. Pulling each of the contents out is like searching for chocolate eggs in an Easter basket- it’s thrilling to see what has been delivered before even looking at the booklet. My familiarity with wine has significantly developed in the past few months thanks to my journey with My Vitibox, but every new bottle still surprises me. The exterior gives nothing away- it’s usually only the region that acts as an indicator of what to expect. But this month, that all goes out the window.
My Vitibox: June 2016 Unboxed
- 1 bottle of Le Prieuré (Domaine du Prieure, 2015)
- 1 bottle of Vignes Centenaires (Domaine des Cadoles, 2014)
- June 2016 Magazine
Diving in, the first bottle is a Chenin from the Domaine du Prieure in the Loire Valley and a 2015 vintage. I am generally a fan of the Chenin style, especially when a wine is lively and dry. When decanted into a glass, this wine demonstrates its youth, showing a delicate greenish tint in its otherwise clear straw hue. It’s a very bright and fluid wine when swirled around. It immediately appears appetising, making it difficult to not immediately savour it. The aromas are equally as alluring, giving off a very fruity and slightly floral nose. Fresh white fruits dominate, further suggesting that this will be a sharp, refreshing offering.
Finally, the taste of the wine doesn’t disappoint. Taking my first sip, I was impressed by the explosive fruit flavour, which tapered off and finished very sharp and dry. The wine is light, zesty and dances on the palate. This really appealed to me and is one of the best iterations of a Chenin that I’ve ever had- perfect for sipping alone on the balcony. According to Alain’s tasting notes, it pairs well with sushi, grilled tuna, fresh goat’s cheese and lemon pie- all very sensible, letting the sharpness of the wine shine through to harmonise with the clean flavours of fish and lemon.
Alain advised us that 2015 is a remarkable vintage because of ideal weather conditions in the Loire Valley, which was blessed with enough heat and sun to produce the Chenin grapes used in the wine. Sadly, 2016 isn’t shaping up so well, so these 2015 bottles are the apex of this style from region.
Fresh from the rousing success of the Chenin, I shifted my attention to the Vignes Centenaires. This Brouilly hails from the Domaine des Cadoles in Beaujolais region. It’s a 2014 vintage made from gamay grapes. A red wine with a vibrant cherry hue, it exhibited some body and viscosity in the glass. It boasted some richness and intensity. Sticking my nose it, the aromas were pungent with dark fruits and a hint of floral peonies. Again, the expressiveness of the bouquet suggested a strong wine, so I wasn’t convinced that this would be as beguiling as the Chenin on my palate.
Sipping the wine revealed a lightness that was unexpected- the wine was fresh and only faintly tannic to taste. The mouthfeel was pleasantly velvety and the flavours lingered pleasingly in the mouth. Alain describes the aroma of this wine as somewhat unusual, given the detection of floral notes against the fruit. He also describes the unusual saltiness in the taste of the wine, which I’m not sure that I pick up on- but my palate is far from accomplished still.
Interestingly, Alain notes that vintages hailing from the Beaujolais region is shrouded in superstition- years that end in ‘4’ are often cursed, but in 2014, this was thankfully not the case. This vintage was saved by a sunny spell in late August of that year, resulting in perfectly ripened grapes. Food pairings suggested include ham in a port sauce and raspberries with whipped cream- this is a harmonious marriage that I can close my eyes and vividly imagine. Tart fruit would perfectly complement the fruit notes and lively taste of the wine.
Satisfied again with June’s box, My Vitibox has resoundingly delivered on two unusual varieties of wine that would have gone otherwise unnoticed by me, mostly due to my inexperience with the styles. Both excelled and were enjoyable- I found the Chenin to be intensely quaffable, but I enjoyed the challenge of the Brouilly and was persuaded in the end. Alain’s accompanying notes are elucidating and make a good read alongside a glass of each wine.
My Vitibox is an excellent choice for a wine drinker who is determined to improve their understanding of styles and regions in particular- subscribers will happily absorb a lot of information as they work through their two bottles. It’s available to purchase as a gift, a one-off (£22 a month), or a three (£22 per month), six (£21 per month) or 12 month (£20 per month) subscription for the Colours & Flavours box. There is also a Red Passion box that comes with either one or two bottles, starting from £24 (one bottle) and £36 (two) with similar subscription options. Prices exclude shipping, which is £4 per bottle (or £5 for two).
Given the variety of subscriptions available, My Vitibox can be tailored to the recipient perfectly. No matter which one is selected, the result is assured: great wine and its background will please any wine drinker.