www.laithwaiteswine.com

This is one of the oldest wine clubs and it seems to be quite successful.

It wants to win you over as members by offering special, low-price introductory packages.

But often there are deals with reduced shipping costs for non-members.

The Background

Started in 1969 by Tony Laithwaite and originally known as Bordeaux Direct, Laithwaites evolved into the UK’s biggest online wine retailer with over 700,000 customers.

In recent years, it has set up outposts in the US and New Zealand.

Florida appears to be its USA headquarters for the online business.

Laithwaite's Wine is still owned and run by Tony and his family and, here is their mission statement in his own words:

“We still believe that great-tasting quality wines are made by passionate winemakers at a scale that is, mostly, too small to reach the biggest retailers.
 
“Our buying team taste around 40,000 wines each year to find just 800 that are good enough for our customers. So, 98% don't make the cut - either for quality or for value.

Very few of our wine labels are household names, so we give our customers the confidence to give our wines a try by offering a 100% guarantee of enjoyment, or they receive a refund or replacement bottles.”

Our Assessment

This site is strong in French wines, especially Bordeaux and Rhone.

But it has an excellent, if limited, selection of Spanish, Italian, and New Zealand wines.

Many of its wines are from small  producers.

Laithwaites buys some wines direct.


But it does offer a wide range of ordinary, inexpensive wines from Australia and Spain. These so-so wines tend to dominate many of the special case offerings for holidays or other special promotions.

The family owns a wine shop and restaurant near St. Emilion so it remains well-connected to Right Bank Bordeaux.

The  family also own a wine chateau in Bordeaux, Château la Clarière Laithwaite.

One of our favorite White Bordeaux is an exclusive, Chateau Le Coin.


Laithwaites Unlimited is a shipping option that is normally offered at $89. That seems steep. But look for periodic free shipping offers.


Two Awesome deals from Wine Clubs:

First, The WSJ Wine Discovery Club has “Special  Introductory offers" that merit your attention.

Here’s the deal: 15 bottles for $69.99 plus $19.99 shipping, and any taxes. You can choose red, white, or a mixed selection of 15 bottles.  So, we are talking $6 a bottle.

On the plus side, you can cancel anytime and there is even a reference to refunds and money back guarantees.  

Here’s the Inside story:  The wines are billed as “World Class” which of course is far from the truth. And the producers are said to be “Small Estates” which is open to debate. Expert tasting notes are included which really doesn’t sweeten the deal much. So it is all about price.

Of the three  choices,  the collection of red wines is a slightly better deal than the whites. The Cabernet and Zin from California are good, and the Chianti, Aglianico, and Tempranillo are also from reliable producers.

The whites are good enough, if you prefer whites. The White Bordeaux, Ch. Le Coin, the Spanish Albarino and California Chardonnay are very good. 


The mixed case includes most of the better reds and whites. So this is an excellent way to go if you like reds and whites equally.

Second, and this blew me away is the wine club offer from Virgin America Airlines. The current offer is a 15 bottle collection of Dry Rose wines from around the world. The price is $79.99, plus any applicable taxes. So no shipping cost.

The deal is a case of 12 and they throw in 3 additional bottles. You have to fill out a lot of paperwork and become a member of The Club from Virgin Wines. If you continue, they will ship a case 4 times a year. But you can cancel at any time. There is a mention of a money back guarantee. You also can earn 3,000 Elevate Points for future flight purposes.

All Roses are from 2015, so the vintage is current, no old and tired pink stuff being unloaded.  The selection is excellent. Their origin ranges from European regions to South Africa, New Zealand, California and Long Island. Yes, good wines are made there.

The 3 extra Roses are from the cool Edna Valley and made by a top local winemaker.