Monday, 17 January 2011 - value wines for January pockets!

Slurp (, according to their website, are the UK's largest online retailer of wines, beers and spirits. Quite surprising, considering who else is out there (Majestic, Waitrose Direct, Tesco, Berry Bros etc.). They are also growing. Growing at such a rate that their Chief Investment Officer, back in May 2010, saw it necessary to inform the Decanter (magazine) staff and readers that they are doing very well indeed. All this in a recession? Well done to them.

It's no secret; online retailers can offer better value (less overheads due to the lack of need for real estate for shops, staffing, etc... etc.), but whether they do offer real value is usually down to the individual retailers, their range and pricing. I try to promote buying online as a great way of getting value for money.

So, what is the Slurp range like? If I'm permitted to use a colloquialism; it's berserk. (NB: That's good!). Literally thousands of wines. The Slurp Express range (where you can order single-bottle quantities) for mixed cases of 6 or 12 bottles has over 1200 wines alone! They also offer a large range of "fine" wines if you're after something special, but as it's January, we'll concentrate on the "value end"...for now.

The one minor gripe I have with the website is the search function - it can be misleading. Don't get me wrong, it's very comprehensive, you can filter by Grape, Country, Region, Vintage, Price, ad infinitum. However, when you do filter by a category, further irrelevant option are not removed. For example, select Argentina as a country and you will see the 1978 vintage displayed, along with all the others. BUT, as you might guess, clicking on 1978 does not yield any wines. Similarly, if you pick Chile for example, the Region options still show things like Barossa, which is clearly not relevant, but to the novice might mislead. Oh and don't type in "wine" from the homepage search to try and separate out the beers and spirits - you get 0 results! LOL.

Anyway, the wines... So, I received a case of six, 3x reds and 3x whites and a mix of old and new World, showcasing some of their value wines, all between £6 and £9 a bottle. Here's how they went down...

First the whites...

Alpha Zeta "S", Soave, 2009

Made in Veneto by the Kiwi export Matt Thompson, 75% Garganega and 25% Trebbiano di Soave 12.5%

The Look: Golden with green hints. Deeply coloured.
The Smell: Delicate at first (straight from the fridge) but warmed up to give orchard fruit, peach, apricot, floral whiffs and spiciness.
The Taste: Again, restrained at first but developed into pear, peach and apricot. Hints of honey, marzipan, lemon/lime and spice. Balanced acidity and a mineral finish. A good food wine, it won't overpower it.
The Score: Pretty decent. Don't serve too cold and have it with food 7/10.
VFM: At only £6.60 a bottle this is very good value VFM = 1.06.

Vidal, Natural Ferment Chardonnay, Hawke's Bay, 2007

From the exquisite Hawkes Bay region of NZ, where wild yeasts were allowed to complete the fermentation, apparently. A big one at 14.5%

The Look: A lovely pale gold.
The Smell: Tropical fruit and grapefruit with a "flinty" minerality. Hints of smoke and spice.
The Taste: Zingy acidity, smooth and a lovely minerality. Tangy, spicy with hints of orange, cream, smoke and citrus. Beautifully complex, lots of flavour and intrigue. Delicious. High alcohol not at all noticeable.
The Score: Great, one of the best Chardonnays we've had recently. Something different from the hordes of apply/citrussy "clones" on the shelves. 8/10. Highly Recommended
VFM: This has very recently gone up from £8.65 to £9.50, which is a shame and impacts the VFM, but still pretty good at VFM = 0.79.

Monte Clavijo, Rioja Blanco, 2009

A Rioja Blanco here made from 90% Viura and 10% Malvasia. 12%

The Look: A pale gold.
The Smell: A bit reticent, even when "warmed up" but hints of citrus, spice and minerals.
The Taste: Mainly apple - green apple. Fresh acidity and a decent long finish. Some lemon/lime and maybe hints of orange or orange blossom? Good with a creamy prawn spaghetti.
The Score: Nice. Not mind-blowing by any stretch, but a reasonable food-wine. Not much flavour for drinking on its own. 6.5/10.
VFM: Again, great value as this is only £6.10. VFM = 1.07.

And the reds...

Concha Y Toro, Trio, Cabernet Sauvignon*, Maipo Valley, 2008

Something special from Chilean giant Concha Y Toro. The asterisk* is because although Cab is the dominant grape, there's also some Cab Franc and Shiraz in the blend - hence the "Trio". Highly Parker-rated this one at 90+ points and also highly praised by Decanter in a recent Chilean Cab tasting. 14%.

The Look: A super-dark, intense black-purple only lightening slightly at the rim.
The Smell: Spicy, smoky, peppery black fruits on the nose. Similar to an an Elqui Syrah. Hints of mint/toothpaste and cherry too. A beauty.
The Taste: A lovely fresh acidity bursts into minty blackcurrant from the Cabernet, followed by spice and a perfumey blackberry/raspberry from the Shiraz and some slight graphite with violets from the Cab Franc. Hints of redcurrant and pepper. Smooth tannin. Excellent and would keep well I imagine.
The Score: Unsurprisingly, Parker and the Decanter lot were spot-on. Very good indeed. This is now D's favourite wine (she reckons it's a 10!). I kept my cool, but still I think it deserves an 8.5/10 and is unequivocally Highly Recommended. Maybe in a year or two this will be a 9, or maybe the ever-elusive 10? For under £10??? Wow...
VFM: At only £8.65 a bottle this is very good value VFM = 0.98 and the quality to price ratio that makes this all worthwhile.

Borgo Selene, Nero Mascalese/Nero d'Avola, 2008

A 50/50 blend of two grapes here from the Island of Sicily. Fairly light at  12.5%

The Look: An intense dark purple, violet rim.
The Smell: Smells like a cross between Malbec and Cab Sauv; blackcurrant and spice with smoky cherry. Smelling blind I would have said Cab.
The Taste: Bright red acidic fruit with lots of blackcurrant too. Smooth velvety tannin, revealing oaky vanilla. Some cherry on the finish. Great with Bolognese.
The Score: Lovely. Not mind-blowing but a solid wine for the price 7/10.
VFM: Once again, great value as this is only £6.65. VFM = 1.05.

D'Arenberg, The Stump Jump, GSM**, 2008

A big (14%) blend of **Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvedre from South Australia.

A real shame here, we were looking forward to this, and it did show promise with spicy black fruit, however, a deep sniff resulted in a burning sensation in the nose - possibly faulty...

...confirmed on the taste - too acidic, "hot" and Porty so I'm not sure if it was oxidised, volatile acidity or both?

Anyway, one in 12 they say, and we've had a reasonably good run lately so were probably due a bad one. That said, D'Arenberg wines are normally superb, even the entry-level ones like this, and at £8.95 I'll most likely give it another shot some time.

So, there we have it. Some great wines from Slurp but most importantly, great value. All had VFM scores in the region of 1.0 which is where you want to be for this price bracket. Well done Slurp and thanks for finding D a new favourite wine - you realise she'll be wanting a case off me now for her birthday don't you? I can't wait!

As always...

Speak to you soon,


Oh and if you're interested in Wine Investment you can read our story of it here:

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