In the last few years, monthly home-delivered wine taster boxes have become all the rage. Early this year, Antoine Clasen and his team started sharing some extremely enticing entries in their address book with customers through two new packages.
Supermarket wine sections and specialist wine merchants’ online catalogues can be a touch daunting given the increasingly international selection on offer. Without insider knowledge, choosing wine can be a lottery and not necessarily a rewarding experience. After all, an attractive label does not always vouch for the quality of the contents…
The boom in the wine box market in recent years has been prompted by a need for guidance on such matters. This prompted Antoine Clasen and his team to launch a service a few months ago that introduces customers to some excellent wines and removes the anxiety of making poor choices. He has provided special access to his network as a producer (CEO of Bernard-Massard) and importer of wines produced throughout the world (he supplies gourmet restaurants and private customers), giving everyone the chance to enjoy his favourites. Items selected for wine boxes are, incidentally, not always available from the standard catalogue (see www.bernard-massard.lu).
Although himself a genuine connoisseur (with a diploma from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust), Antoine Clasen does not his make decisions alone and is aided in his monthly selections by Eddy Rousseau (2015 Best sommelier of Luxembourg), Thomas Cléry (who also holds a Wine and Spirit Education Trust diploma) and Karine Zirnheld (a wine merchant for the past 10 years).
Two packages are available – the Petit Vigneron (€24.90 per month) and the Maître de Chai (€49 per month). “The first box is mainly aimed at people seeking to improve their approach to discovering wine,” explains Antoine Clasen. “It is very educational and offers two wines that are typical of a certain grape variety or region. Over the year, this enables people to hone their choices by tasting very typical yet very different wines.”
Bordeaux, Languedoc, Provence, Chili… and Luxembourg !
The second box is focused on more specialist wines. “The wines are often produced by smaller, less well-known estates in regions that may be relatively obscure yet still have a lot to offer. For example, the Maître de Chai box for March includes a bottle of Mas Champart, a gem from the Languedoc region produced by an estate awarded two stars by the Revue du Vin de France.“
A small magazine in French and English is supplied with each month’s box. It presents a grape variety and region related to the chosen package. Anne Faber, famous for her cookery programmes on RTL, provides recipes with flavours to complement each wine. These are also printed on recipe cards.
Both packages take customers on a journey to Bordeaux, Languedoc, Provence and Chile, while also introducing them to Luxembourgian wines including those produced by Caves Bernard-Massard. Since the start of the year, subscribers to the Petit Vigneron package have sampled such delights as the exquisite Bernard-Massard 2016 vintage Luxembourg crémant and the highly quaffable Domaine Thill’s 2018 Pinot Gris. Customers opting for the Maître de Chai box, on the other hand, were treated to a crémant from the Clos des Rochers estate owned by the Clasen family, which always offers top quality wines.
In the coming weeks, any wines sampled from taster boxes will be available to buy online at preferential rates.