Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Perfect Cellar

I received some samples from a new online wine merchant called The Perfect Cellar. The idea behind this venture is carefully selected wines from lesser known French regions, making them available to the public in limited quantities.

Their website includes mixed case offers, wine gift packs, wine guides and features on the Chateaux that supply them. One particular selling point is that the wines are frequently featured in Michelin starred restaurants. In particular, there are six properties featured: Domaine Seguela (Roussillon), Domaine Bernard Baudley (Chinon), Brisson Jonchere (Champagne), Mas Amiel (Roussillon, Maury), Henri Bourgeois (Loire) and Chateau Parsac (Bordeaux, right-bank).

The Chateau Parsac is actually made by Chateau Pitray of Cotes de Castillon, which I rate as a great value Bordeaux region.

Another selling point - price. To quote the website: 'You no longer need to spend £££ to enjoy the Luxurious French Wines'. I'm not totally convinced everything The Perfect Cellar sells is a bargain. For example, they offer a gift pack of 2 bottles of 2006 Chateau Parsac for £39.99, knocked down from the 'regular' price of £69.88. This is quite frankly misleading. The wines themselves are worth no more than £8 or £9 a bottle - since Pitray's Grand Vin 2005 was only £8.99 a couple of years ago at Majestic. So after the wine, you're basically paying £20 for a box and a bunch of useless wine accessories (perhaps with the exception of the waiter's friend corkscrew). To be fair, you can buy 6 bottles of the Parsac for £60, which sounds reasonable, but not a bargain.

However, the regions represented here are in fact good value ones. Castillon and Roussillon are ones that I'm familiar with, rarely experiencing a bad bottle and never paying over the odds. Loire and Champagne less so, but the samples I tried were pretty good.

So, onto the wines.

Henri Bourgeois, Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc 2008. VdP Loire Valley. £53.94 / 6 bottles: Expressive, competent wine. Not overbearing a la NZ, but lots of SB character nonetheless. Good acidity. Well made. 3/5

Brisson Jonchere '3 Cépages' Champagne NV. £18.99 / bottle: '3 Cépages' translates to 3 varieties, so I'm assuming that this contains all three Champagne grapes. I could be wrong however, as there is no blending information on the label, The Perfect Cellar's website, or Brisson Jonchere's website. No matter though - I think it resembled a more Chardonnay dominated blend, with crisp, appley character. Bright and refreshing, this is my kind of Champagne. 3.5/5

Mas Amiel Maury 2008. AOC Maury. £95.40 / 6 bottles: This is a port-like fortified wine from the South of France. I should have decanted this, as it was quite closed. Still it showed quality but I will withhold a rating.

All in all The Perfect Cellar offers higher quality, cheaper alternatives to the consumer. Vintage Maury instead of Vintage Port, VdP Loire Sauvignon Blanc instead of Sancerre, and Cotes de Castillon instead of Pomerol. I applaud their choice of regions as they offer similar quality to much more well known, more expensive appellations. Most serious wine lovers are aware of these 'lesser' regions, but it's good to see a merchant concentrating on them. Just stay away from the gift packs!


  1. Really good post - had no idea about these 'lesser' regions! Thanks for this. Now I wonder which recipes might work with some of them...
    HOpe all well otherwise Tim!
    Take care

  2. Tim - Thanks for the feedback
    We have spoken to our suppliers and managed to get huge discount on the boxes which are now reduced considerably: Gift Pack now £24.99 for the 2 bottle box with the Parsac and £19.99 for the one bottle box with the Mas Amiel.
    Hopefully we will see your order for the Champagne soon :-)
    The Perfect Cellar