Laithwaites buy 6 save 30%
Laithwaites buy 6 save 30%
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Cellar Rats – Drink Less, Drink Better

Cellar Rats Free Case

Cellar Rats are the latest wine club on the scene and quickly becoming my new favourite. Unlike your average wine subscription, they give you the perfect way to try wines without having to commit to a whole bottle. The wine arrives in wax-sealed quarter bottles to enjoy a glass out of. You can then make the most of turning it into a home wine tasting, or simply enjoy the fact that you aren’t forced to open a whole bottle. It’s useful for cutting down! But of course, that’s only so good if the wines and service are too. And this is where they really stand out for me above other subscriptions - their wine quality and little touches really put you on a journey through a great wine cellar. The cases can come to £90 worth of wine (if they were full bottles) so you know that what you’re trying is premium stuff before even opening the bottles. As they say, Drink Less, Drink Better.

So, how does it work?

Quite simply sign up to receive their monthly cases and get yourself started on a new wine journey. There are flexible payment options, customisable cases and they’ll keep tinkering the cases each month based on feedback to perfect your wines. And don’t worry if you find that one wine you absolutely love, you can get it again as a full bottle from them and stock up on the good stuff with their member’s rates.

The arrival

You can tell a lot of love goes into evoking the feeling of an old but grand wine cellar here. On opening your case, you’ll be greeted by 6 wax-sealed bottles sporting rather adorable rat faces on the labels. A black envelope stamped and sealed with the Cellar Rats initials is also enclosed. Within it, you’ll find a mini instruction manual advising you to taste them blind before reading the individual wine profile cards also enclosed. This is truly the subscription for those who want to become wine pros. The wine cards are compact yet informative, taking you on a deep dive into the wines profile and with a handy QR code to scan if it’s good enough to order a whole bottle.

The Tasting

#226 - The Impressionist Shiraz

Hailing from sunny South Eastern Australia, this Shiraz is a very good Aussie show off. It’s full of ripe dark fruits like blackberry and plum with a damson sweet spice. There’s a dab of black pepper too which puts it firmly in the Shiraz corner. I found the finish nice and lengthy with a pleasant blackberry jam note followed by a slightly smokey undertone. A rich, vibrant wine with bold flavour and power yet approachable.

#221 – Masan Carignan Vielles Vignes

Carignan can often be hit or miss as a lot of it is produced en masse for cheap table wine. But this one from Southern France with Vielles Vignes, meaning old vines, on the label gave me hope - The older the vine, the better the wine is the general rule of thumb and I think this wine showcases that with aplomb. It was arguably my favourite of the case. An amazing nose alone got me excited with its prune, fig, all spice and treacley nature. I could tell it was well made, premium stuff. Red fruits came out more on the palate with cranberry and redcurrant that had a bit of a stewed element to them. Black cherry, cassis and vanilla are also there to add some more nuance and complexity. This was a flavour intensive treat but smooth and without much tannin making it almost too easy to drink.

#229 – Avenida da Adega Omissa Vinho Verde Albarinho

Onto the whites now with an Albarinho from the Vinho Verde region of Portugal, known best for its crisp whites of this nature. Often wines from this region are a blend so it was interesting to see what Albarinho could do on its own here. To start with, the first thing I noticed was it had the signature Vinho Verde Spritz giving it that extra push in freshness. It was a little more spritzy than many I’ve had from the region, and quite enjoyable for that reason in fact. You’ll find pear drop, green apple, mineral, nectarine and tropical fruits, mango perhaps. A very nice wine!

Cellar Rats Free Wine Case
Cellar Rats Free Wine Case
Cellar Rats Free Wine Case

#230 – The Impressionist Sauvignon Blanc

By the name, you might think this is also from Australia, but it comes from Stellenbosch, South Africa. Ordinarily Sauvignon from regions like Marlborough are not to my taste, so this was a bit of a relief in many ways. This style of Sauv is much more akin to something from the Loire – in other words, more restrained. It is a herbaceous style of SB from a cool climate: you’ll taste green bell pepper, a hint of asparagus, green apple and underripe lemon (in a good way) all underpinned by a grassy undertone. I thought it was fantastic.

#249 – Protea Rose

Onto Rose now and back to South Africa, this is a typical Southern French blend but with SA bite. It comes from Franschhoek, a region prized for its fresher fruit qualities making it perfect for Rose. The slightly deeper colour than your average Provence should give away that this isn’t all about delicacy though. It leans into slightly weightier red fruits with tangy cherry and cranberry standing out followed by lighter strawberry and raspberry undertones. It has a nice floral jasmine element too which enhances the weight and complexity of the wine. All in all, it has more oomph than what you may be used to but is better in many ways for that exact reason!

#250 – Crazy Tropez Rose

And as the perfect point of comparison we have a Provence Rose which is almost the same blend, just missing the Syrah of the SA one. This is something Cellar Rats is brilliant for as the smaller samples allow you to taste wines side by side and really explore their differences and what you like most about them. But, onto the wine. The flavours are still well defined but much more so on the tongue than coating the entire mouth, exemplifying that Provence delicacy. Red berries are there but lean this time into the strawberry and raspberry aspect a lot more. A bit of melon brought some gentle nuance along whilst the finish had a nice saline tang. Overall, my parting thought was that it reminded me a little of grenadine. A lovely gentle Rose with ample flavour.

And so there we have it, my first Cellar Rats case more than impressed with the quality of its wines. This is always a bit of a concern with a subscription as I’ve had a few poky wines from many other wine services I have tried. But here, they hit the nail on the head. Drink less, drink better indeed. To get yourself started and find out for yourself how good they really are, why not claim your FREE case of 6? You won't regret it.

Cellar Rats

David Andrews, DipWSET

David Andrews, DipWSET

David brings great enthusiasm to the wine industry, starting with Majestic Wine in 2019 and now joining us at Winesdirect in 2023. He has completed his WSET Diploma qualification and looking forward to share his expert knowledge and tidbits of the wine world.

As an industry enthusiast and expert, David also writes a regular blog on instagram. Check it out here @oinosattheoikos

Read more articles by: David Andrews

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Laithwaites buy 6 save 30%