Our Wine Club Box for September contains some famous brands, Black Tower and McGuigans, along with the less familiar Boucha and Odd Bird. Our monthly Wine Club subscription box is the perfect way to try new products and step outside of your comfort zone. We hold a virtual guided tasting to accompany the box each month, which is hosted by Club Soda founder Laura Willoughby and our wine expert Christine Parkinson. This month’s live tasting is on Monday 27th September at 7pm (UK time).
In this article, our wine expert Christine Parkinson previews the contents of September’s Wine Club. Christine started her restaurant career in the kitchen and moved into management after three years as a Head Chef. After various operational roles followed she eventually decided to follow her passion and concentrate on wine and worked with Hakkasan for 18 years. She has now ventured out and became a wine and sake specialist, and is also the co-founder at Brimful Drinks consultancy.
McGuigans zero sparkling
McGuigans is based in the Hunter Valley, a couple of hours north of Sydney, where they have been making wine since the 1880s. When I last visited them, in 2005, they were just starting to make dealcoholized wines. I remember thinking it was an interesting concept, but I doubted it could be done well. I tasted the wines recently, and realised they have actually done a great job. This isn’t really surprising, as McGuigans make some of Australia’s top wines, and have been named as International winemaker of the year 4 times in the last decade.
The wine starts out as a blend of white grapes from South Eastern Australia, and after normal fermentation it is put through a spinning cone process at low temperature. This removes the alcohol, and leaves a light, fresh and fruity wine with plenty of fizz.
Boucha Kombucha White
As you can tell from the name, this isn’t wine, but premium kombucha: a naturally alcohol-free drink made by fermenting green tea with a special culture (a ‘SCOBY’). Founder Bryony Orsborn has blended in some natural fruit to produce a style reminiscent of a lightly sparkling and very zesty white wine.
Bryony decided to make an alcohol-free drink when she gave up alcohol herself. She didn’t enjoy most of the dealcoholized wines she tried, and realised that kombucha could do a better job (she was therefore one of the first people to spot the potential for premium kombucha as a replacement for wine). Boucha has always been sold in a wine-style bottle, something which some other brands are now starting to do.
Boucha is organic, and like all good kombucha it is rich in healthy enzymes and antioxidants. It’s also fully dry and naturally complex, due to the brewing process involved. This means it’s a very food-friendly drink. I’ve been a big fan of kombucha as an alternative to wine since my Hakkasan days, and this is a cracking example!
Black Tower Rose
Black Tower Rosé is a dealcoholized wine. This brand has been famous for a long time – in fact it has been the most successful German wine export for fifty years! Originally there was just a single white wine in an iconic black, tower-shaped bottle, but nowadays there are several styles of Black Tower.
The company behind this wine, Reh Kendermann, is well-known to wine professionals. In fact, back when I was studying wine, I won a scholarship to visit German vineyards, supported by RK. They are a member of the ‘Wine in Moderation’ movement, are extremely environmentally aware in their vineyards and wineries, and make some fantastic wines. It’s not surprising, therefore, that they have done such a good job of this dealcoholized rosé. You would be hard-pressed to know this wine doesn’t have alcohol, as they have nailed the classic cool-climate, fresh, fruity, off-dry style.
Domaine de la Prade Red Wine, Odd Bird
This is a dealcoholized red wine from Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France, made in a lovely, soft, oaky style. It’s a blend of Merlot and Shiraz grapes, from organic certified vineyards. The wine is aged traditionally in oak barrels for up to a year, before being ‘Liberated from alcohol’ – a lovely expression, coined by Odd Bird to describe their very gentle dealcoholisation process. The quality of the fruit and effect of maturation produce a very convincing red wine, naturally tasting of berries, plums and vanilla.
Odd Bird founder, Moa Gürbüzer, is a former social worker, who was moved by the alcohol-related harm she saw in so many families. The slogan ‘Liberated from alcohol’ also refers to the benefits to society of removing alcohol. Nice.
Please note, order our Wine Club Box for September before the 15th to guarantee this month’s box. Purchases after this date will then that payment is towards the following month’s box. The contents of this tasting box are subject to change. Many brands are experiencing issues with packaging and shipping. We will always aim to swap in similar products if changes are needed.