Introducing the Mr Vine Tasting Panel

Yesterday saw the launch of a new wine app: it’s called Mr Vine.

Mr Vine
Say Hello to Mr Vine

Mr Vine is an app that helps you discover the kinds of wine you like from a marketplace consisting of over 1,000 wines across a dozen different independent UK wine merchants. You can search using all the classic criteria such as colour and country of origin, or you can take a taste test that will suggest wines based on your stylistic preferences. Orders are placed in-app and delivered to your door. Mr Vine is free to download and is currently only available on IOS but will soon be launched on Android too; you can download it here.

So what’s it got to do with me? Well the brains behind the app (fine wine trader Charlie Martin and Greg Jones, former retail director at Majestic) asked me to chair the Mr Vine Tasting Panel. Each month, we’ll taste a selection of wines available via the app. The tasting should flag up the best examples of a particular style of wine that’s available across a number of our finest independent wine shops. The result should point out the best of the best!

The panel consists of five dedicated wine lovers, all of whom have a different area of expertise: Richard Hemming, Helena Nicklin, Nathan Nolan, Zeren Wilson and me. We score the wines out of 100, provide a tasting note and – perhaps most importantly – pick our top five of the night. These won’t necessarily be the highest scoring; an expensive, classic wine might get a high score, but we might want to flag up others that offer great value for money or that are doing something a little different and worthy of your attention.

We had a warm-up tasting the other week with a selection of wines from a number of Mr Vine suppliers. The results are as follows:

First place: Côte Mas Piquepoul Frisant 2013 (Vin de France, 12.0%, £9.95, Soho Wine Supply)
This refreshing fizz made from the increasingly popular Piquepoul grape has bags of grapefruit, lemon and green apple flavour and was something of a revelation. The saline finish is very moreish and just begs you to take another sip. For under a tenner, this must be one of the best sparklers on the market. 89 points.

Second place: Stag’s Leap Petite Sirah 2009 (Napa Valley, USA, 14.1%, £25.00, Soho Wine Supply)
Luxurious and velvety, brooding and smoky. This is an intense, concentrated wine with flavours of blackberry, coffee bean and black cherries. The overall impression is punchy and polished, but it retains a sense of elegance and balance. Beauty and the beast all wrapped up in one. 91 points.

Third place: Boroli ‘Quatro Fratelli’ Barbera d’Alba 2011 (Italy, 13.5%, £13.99, Soho Wine Supply)
A lovely, classic Barbera: bright and perky, with pure, crunchy red cherry and cranberry flavours. Versatile and highly drinkable, this just cries out for some good Italian food. Thirst quenching and juicy. 89 points.

Haute Cabrière Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2014 (Franschhoek, South Africa, 12.5%, £10.99, Hard to Find Wines)
This rose-gold coloured white is made from the same grapes commonly blended in Champagne. It’s fairly weighty, with deep apple and melon aromas and a silky texture. Clear, clean and just a little bit different. 87 points.

Clos des Menuts Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2009 (France, 13.5%, £19.20, Nickolls & Perks)
Serious stuff: this is classic claret, with strong black fruit and a gamey, savoury, smoky character. It’s pretty dry, but with some soft, sumptuous fruits and a slightly furry texture. Deserves to be drunk alongside a plate of something meaty. 87 points.

I’ll post the outcome here after each tasting so you can see which wines are worth a try.

For more info on the app and how it works, check out