(2023) I'm on record as saying that pitching zero alcohol 'wines' as being just like the real thing, is a deceit; they never are. Drinks such as this begin life as wine, but the alcohol is removed by a variety of techniques. No matter how refined the system, a massive proportion of aroma, flavour and texture is also removed, and I've yet to taste one of these products that tastes remotely like the grapes or wine style it is based on. Odd Bird is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in the Languedoc, and is made by the traditional method with a year on the lees in individual bottles. Removing the alcohol has left a fizzy rather than sparkling wine, with some raspberry and light herbal aromas. In the mouth it's a little bit sweet, rather thin, but it is not unpleasant. It's bears no meaningful relation to a proper traditional method sparkling wine, so is definitely not recommended as 'Champagne without the alcohol', but it is a pleasant and grown-up sparkling drink for those who choose to avoid alcohol for any reason. £9.99 as part of a mixed 12 bottles. Watch the video for more information.
(2022) 'Gentle Riot' is a brand Laithwaites have introduced for some less orthodox wines in their range - there's an orange wine, for example. This is a chunky and boisterous blend of Malbec and Merlot. That in itself is not terribly unusual, as Cahors in the southwest of France, spiritual home of Malbec, has often blended in a softening dollop of Merlot to its wines. What's a bit different here is that the wine is not vintage dated, so is presumably a blend of two or more vintages, and it's a Vin de France cross-regional blend, the Malbec from Cahors, the Merlot from Bordeaux. There's a high-toned, charry oak note and loads of plum and raspberry ripe fruit. There's nothing subtle here, the palate savoury with more plum and a liquorice and leather, tannic finish. It is a rustic and substantial wine, that will be best with the right food. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas. £10.99 as part of a mixed dozen, which is the right price for this one.
(2022) Made from Chardonnay, Viognier and Pinot Gris, the Viognier probably marking the nose most, with a suitably wild and earthy, quite yeasty nose. The palate has plenty of sweet fruit, but also shows that dry hessian and herbal character, the acid is well integrated, lean and lemony, for a tangy finish.
(2022) From vineyards in conversion to organic farming, this is Roussanne, aged six months in 500-litre barrels. With 14% alcohol it is a big wine, aromas have a delicacy, with some floral top notes to stone fruits. In the mouth there's loads of sweet, juicy mango and pineapple sweetness, an orangey blast of fruit and acid too. Yes, the alcohol adds a little heat to the finish, but the acid balance scythes through the ripeness and concentration.
(2022) Coral pink, this Grenache and Cinsault wine is a Vin de France, grapes coming from regions of the South of France. There's a light earthiness to the nose, which is actually quite refreshing among so many cool-ferment fruit bombs. In the mouth a bit of sweetness, red fruits and a fair share of lemon acid towards the finish which does balance. £7.99 mixed-six price.
(2022) Of Mirabeau's wines I found this one a touch sweeter - certainly that was my perception, though I don't have the analysis - and yet the crisp, zesty finish was very well balanced. Its a zippy and zingy aromatic style, with vivacious crunch of redcurrant, and it represents good value. Note this is a 'Vin de France' not Provence wine, so presumably some of the fruit is sourced from outside of the region.
(2022) I wanted to like the stuff in the bottle more than I did sadly. Created in collaboration with LGBTQ+ charity, Queer Britain, and supporting the nation’s first LGBTQ+ museum which opened in May 2022, the cause is worth support, the wine... It's a Grenache/Syrah blend, with confectionery aromas and, for my palate, just too much residual sugar. I rather wish the wine was more ambitious to match the project, but sadly it's a middle of the road offering that could have been so much more interesting.
(2020) A 'Vin de France' so grapes could come from multiple regions, though I supect this is Languedoc fruit, the grapes "grown in clay-limestone soils in vineyards with dry and sunny exposures."  The result is a raspberry and violet-scented wine that is certainly fruit-forward and inviting, a nice little touch of herby, twiggy character in the background. In the mouth it is light-bodied and flooded with more of that sweet summer berry fruit, but there's good balance thanks to cherry-pit acidity and just enough of a tugging stripe of tannin. Note, this is on offer at just £6.99 at time of review, and that is the target price: the headline price of £10.99 is too much to pay. Watch the video for more information.
(2020) Adrien Surain continues to ring the changes in the somewhat staid world of Bordeaux with a non-vintage white wine, blending Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, made in a fesh and fruity, crowd-pleasing style, and unashamedly so. Modest aromas of underripe peach and a touch of leafiness lead on to a creamy mouthfull of more exotic fruit, the peach and a hint of pineapple come through, and while it stays fairly straightforward with that mouthfilling sweet fruit through the mid-palate, the finish is very nicely balanced, dry and fresh.
(2020) From the Bordeaux vineyards of Chateau Surain, but designated as a Vin de France, so possibly the fruit coming from elsewhere, this is cool, fresh and dry, a nicely pitched savoury pink straddling lemony savoury qualities and small, firm red berry fruitiness, and really very nicely done.