PRODUCT REVIEW: Le Petit Ballon, wine subscription service

by - February 20, 2016

Recipe delivery boxes are ever popular but joining them are the wine and beer subscription boxes. Petit Ballon works by sending you two bottles each month from either the Apprentice selection (£24.90 per month) or for those that already know their way around a glass, the Master Box (£39.90).

When you sign up you can tell them your taste preferences so your box can be tailored somewhat and you can choose red wine only if you wish.

This is a great way to learn about wine as well as being pretty much a fail safe to avoid a duff bottle choice. The wines you are sent have been carefully selected by Jean-Michel Deluc, former sommelier at the Ritz who clearly understands what is good and the brands to watch. I'll admit, faced with a wall of wine in the supermarket, I'll grab what's on offer or take a punt based on a label design (I can see Monsieur Deluc's eyes rolling now). Although I'm slowly getting to grips with varieties I like and distinguishing flavours, I still have a hell of an education in front of me, But hey, it's a subject I don't mind practising AT ALL.

First out of the box was the red as that's my natural preference and what a great start it was. The Château de Jau 2013 AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages was a sturdy red, powerful without overpowering and rich and decadent with a slight spice. I enjoyed this one very much. I generally only drink with a meal but I poured myself a glass the next day just to enjoy (and to ensure noone else got it before me!).

Second out was the Domaine Lecomte Quincy 2014, a beautifully coloured white. I'm slowly coming around to more white wine and trying decent bottles certainly helps! I think I've been victim to really harsh, astringent white wines in the past but the fresh, quite grapefruity (it's a word) tones of this one were very nice indeed.

I'm also a big fan of the slightly quirky branding and design here. The modern, unexpected style contrasts with the traditional burgundy and gold you would expect from the wine sector and will appeal to a younger, newer clientele. They have also stripped down the "wine chat" without being patronising, making it easier to find wines you like with sensible tasting categories and providing engaging content like online videos and quizzes. In your box you will also find a copy of La Gazette, a beautifully put together mini zine with food and wine pairing, recipes and winemakers' stories. This was a big plus for me and really added value to the service.

I like the encouragement to engage with their social channels too, it's good for the brand as well as the consumer, pretty essential stuff these days too.

So all in all I thought this was a great service and it felt like a good quality product. I've tried a few of the wine subscription companies now and this seemed to me one of the best in terms of value for presentation, product, engagement and information.

We see a lot of subscription services these days; beauty, kids craft sets, jewellery...but good quality wine delivered direct to your door? I'll raise my glass to that.

I was sent this product to review. Words and thoughts, as always, are my own.

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