I love a good wine club. It is so easy to get stuck in a wine drinking rut where you buy and enjoy the same damn things over and over again. I don’t buy a lot of wine (may be something to do with all the wine I’m sent), but I do know that it is easy to pick up the same things at the local wine shop. Cellar Direct is a relatively new wine club that does have a few different things to offer.

There is a strong focus on smaller producers and a nod to organic and biodynamic producers as well. Not a bad goal. Program founder (and huge wine nerd) Ron van Schilt set out a goal to represent “wines from small, artisanal producers that pair well with food and refresh the palate.” Seeking wines that “represent their origins…and the quality of the vintage.”

The wines almost have an audit trail following them from the winery to your door. This is pretty unusual to see for wine. Most wine make its way from the winery on trucks to warehouses, a warehouse to another warehouse, probably a ship, maybe a train, another truck, another warehouse, and probably another truck. Modern shipping is pretty good, but for any “luxuries” like a temperature controlled container or warehouse, you’ll pay. All the wines ordered through the Cellar Direct club are shipped in temperature-control conditions most importantly, given the…ahem…diverse weather conditions in Alberta, the orders are shipped six times a year-avoiding the hottest and coldest months.

The wines are available by subscription (starting at $79.95) though you can re-order additional wines. Options exist for all red or all white packages, and shipping is included-but you don’t get to pick your wines in your regular deliveries. Good or bad, it’s about trying new wines. While you could order and have it shipped out of province, I would still suggest checking with your current provincial rules about that.

One thing that does bother me a little is that all the wines offered are only available through the program. Find a wine you really like? You have to order more online. Personally, I think it would be great if the wines were available for a short period as an exclusive to the program and then become available at a few select retailers. But what do I know? For now, check out cellardirect.ca to find out more.

So, let’s talk about the 5 sample bottles sent my way for review.

Les Versauds 2012 Morgon, Beaujolais, France
Cracked black pepper and decidedly raspberry fruits on the nose give way to a lean and authentic gamay characters in the mouth-perfect for serious fans of the grape but a little light bodied for some.

Señorio de P. Peciña 2007 Crianza, Rioja
Fruit driven aromas with some pretty serious floral tones and orange notes. Good balance from start to finish though a slightly smoky, tarry character on the back palate was a little surprising. Holding up well, I’m craving a burger after this bottle.

Giraudon 2013 Bourgogne Chitry, Burgundy, France
Layers upon layers on the nose here-as a good burgundy should. Loads of black currant, liquorice, and black raspberry on the nose, while flavours are pretty consistent and the overall experience is pretty silky. Elegant and delicious. A winner.

Francois Pinon NV Vouvray Brut, Loire, France
Wine geeks everywhere already know that sparkling vouvray is a treasure. Lemon, paraffin, and honeycomb aromas lead the nose while the palate is structured, generous, and very, very enjoyable. Wonderful stuff to have around the house.

Ratzenburger 2011 Steeger St. Jost Riesling Spätlese, Germany
Lime…check. Mineral….check. Yessir, this is a riesling and a pretty one at that. Acids would be searing if it were for a touch of residual sugar on the palate, but this is a very well structured, clean riesling with a touch of petrol and nuttiness. A delight to have in the glass-even better in your mouth. 

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