A new online wine store whose USP is only selling 100 wines at any one time - apparently we get confused by more than that.
Who runs it?
It’s the brainchild of an ex-Tesco marketing man John Valentine and MW (Master of Wine) John Hoskins. Two other MWs help select the wines - an unusually well-qualified trio of wine buyers.
How are they different from existing online businesses?
The emphasis is on value for money which doesn’t mean cheap wines but wines that punch above their weight. They have a slightly confusing scoring system called QPR (quality/price ratio) which currently ranges from 90 (the lowest mark at which they’ll list a wine) to 97 - the highest mark at present. They don’t believe in 100 point hyperbole. Hard to see quite why a 94 point wine is inferior to a 96 one, though, if it’s made in a style you like.
More to the point there are no phoney half price offers or discounts except for unsplit cases. Brownie points for that - a brave decision in the face of Britain’s cut-price wine culture. Delivery is free in mainland UK if you buy 12 bottles.
They also choose wines they think make good drinking rather than fitting a particular category or price point. Which means - shock horror! - there is no pinot grigio at the moment. And only one New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
How does the site work?
Well, on the whole. It’s attractive and clearly designed. You can search by colour, style, price range (there are 25 under £10 and 55 options under £15) and occasion. Occasions include quirky categories like School Night Supper (wines like Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and Côtes du Rhône) and ‘Surprise your friends’ (an Austrian Zweigelt).
There are some useful nuggets of information about each wine and intelligent food matches. One wine - the Primitivo below - is described as suitable for ‘cheese, strong game and the richest, thickest stew in the recipe book.”
And there are 4 mixed cases for those who can’t decide quite what they want.
The only serious glitch is that they don’t have a search function so you can’t look for a specific wine other than by trawling through the listings by colour or style which makes the site less consumer-friendly than it might be.
Who’s it best for?
Working couples with very little time/inclination to think about wine but a willingness to experiment and the budget to spend a more than the average supermarket shopper. Most are pitched in the £10-15 price bracket.
If you’re only stocking 100 wines there can’t be any that don’t pull their weight - this is presumably where the 'trust' part of WineTrust comes in. I was impressed by the fact that there wasn’t a dog among the wines they showed us last night. One or two not quite so much to my taste but that’s only to be expected.
They say that they’ll operate on a 'one in, one out' basis which means that anything that’s no longer showing at its best will be ditched in favour of a more appealing wine of the same type. The only frustration I can envisage about that is that if you like a wine you may suddenly find it’s no longer available.
A taste of WineTrust100
These are the wines I liked best from their launch dinner. Prices are for single bottles. If you buy a six bottle case you'll pay £1 less per bottle.
Excellent pun, excellent introduction to German wine without some of the meanness that can characterise cheaper German rieslings. Slightly perverse to categorise it as crisp and dry instead of fruity and aromatic along with the other rieslings, maybe. It's not that dry. I'd drink it with Chinese or other Asian food.
My favourite wine of the tasting. A full, rich, almost Meursault-like chardonnay. At £13 it’s brilliant value for money and a great match with the lobster ravioli it was paired with. From South Africa’s winery of the year.
A great example of the wonderful things that can happen to Chenin Blanc when it’s produced biodynamically (my view not theirs). Rich, sensuous and peachy - for chicken with a creamy sauce or simply sipping on its own.
22 quid for a primitivo! Yes, but that seemingly hasn’t deterred people from ordering it - it’s been the most popular red so far, apparently, with customers coming back for more. Not entirely my cup of tea - I find it a little porty - but if you’re a fan of big rich brambley reds you’ll love it. Think slightly spicy slow-cooked shoulder of lamb.
One of a particularly strong selection of sweet wines. They’re not the only people to stock this delightfully frivolous moscato but maybe the only ones to suggest pairing it with a dessert - it was a cracker with a pannacotta and strawberry and peach fruit salad. Or "with a sunny garden and a friend".
WineTrust100 is at winetrust100.co.uk
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