* Prices may differ from that shown
My OH was a member of Laithwaites wine when I met him. He was enormously proud of this but, in my ever more frugal way, I thought I could wean him off this and reduce his wine buying habits to once a month a three for ten option at Tesco's.
What I wasn't prepared for was the level of service and value for money that you get from this company.
He is on the four seasons package where I believe, you get a case per quarter. The wine that you get in these cases, is always delicious. I have never tasted a bad bottle. This is great (for me especially as I buy wine depending on what the label looks like) as you never waste a bottle.
Every now and then he is sent a booklet of special offers, the latest being a "mystery case" where the case you buy is guaranteed to be worth about £30 more than you have paid for it but it could be worth up to £600. In the past these cases have included Bolly or Chateax Neuf du Pap etc so well worth a punt. Other offers include a large (double size) bottle of Rioja for about £10 which is fab as a gift or jusy to keep for yourself!
One of the enormous bonus points with this company is that when you phone them (whatever time or day of the week), you get to speak to a person, you never have to say or put in your membership number just to get in the queue to speak to someone. An actual person always answers the phone.
So, my tightness in the wallet department has been replaced by a desire to support a company that give us good VFM. We are having a party next week and have ordered our wine from LW. We got free delivery and the cases were on our doorstep within three days of the phone call.
It costs about £70 for a case of 12, including delivery.
Now many of us enjoy a glass or two (or in my case at times three) of wine with dinner or when relaxing with the other half at the end of the day. I can't remember what it was that I had bought online but when it arrived it came with a special offer voucher for Laithwaites. I simply thought 'why not' since then I am very glad I did.
The introductory case which contained 6 white and 6 red was £45.50 (this was about 7 years ago now) and each bottle was of a good to excellent standard and the case came with 'tasting notes' saying what each one would be like. This is something I found useful as it helped me to know what to order the next time I wanted some wine. After the introductory case there is absolutely no obligation to buy any more from them.
Each month (aprox) you receive a sort of catalogue with the latest selections of cases. Sometimes they offer a 'bin end clearance case' which is well worth buying. These are usually sold for around £55 but you are told the case has a minimum value of £79 (going by the last one I bought). These are not lower quality or passed their best but simply sold to clear the warehouse for the new stock. In these bin ends I have received some excellent wines including some 1996 Rioja and some single vineyard Shiraz. The only drawback to the bin end cases is that you can only get them if you buy it along with another case of 12. However, it is a good way to stock up at a good price.
Ordering your wine couldn't be simpler. You can return the mail order form, order by phone or online. I have found that ordering by phone for me is the best as it is the easiest way to 'build your own' case with one or two bottles of the wines you want and you get to talk to a person not one of those awful automated lines. I have tried the online ordering but I found this was not easy to navigate round and so only tried this the once.
Delivery and payment:
Delivery is normally within 5 days and if you are out you can leave instructions as to where your wine can be left. The normal delivery charge the last time I ordered was £6.99. This is a flat charge regardless of the size of your order. Payment for you order is normally by debit or credit card either in one go or in the past I have selected to pay it over three months. The three month payment plan does not cost you any more and is a good way to spread the payments.
They have a 4 seasons 'club' but this is a 'negative response' type set up. Similar in a way to the 'editor's choice' in a book club. Every 3 months or so you will be sent a case of wine and payment will be automatically taken. As with the book club it is up to the customer to say if they don't want it. If you say nothing then they assume you want the case and it will be sent. This is the reason I am not a 4 seasons member.
Freebies and 'loyalty benefits':
In the third year of buying from Laithwaites I joined their 'Premier club'. The cost of this is £19.95 (Last time I checked) for the year. This may sound quite a lot but each month you order a case of 12 wines you receive two free bottles which are specially selected. Normally if you order two cases in the year the actual value of the free wine means the club has paid for its self. There is also often a 'free gift' on offer for those who order early. Out of the ones I have received in the past the set of six 'wine tasters' glasses are the best.
The customer service:
Their customer service is excellent and when I did have reason to complain about the fact my delivery was left on my front doorstep rather than round the back of the house as I had asked the delivery charge was refunded and I was sent £20 worth of Laithwaite's vouchers. When you do ring them you get the feeling they value you as a customer, which makes a change from a lot of the big companies where you have to go through that awful automated system
The actual wine
The wine I have bought from them over the years has been excellent and there has only been one bad bottle. Upon calling the company to complain the cost of this bottle was refunded with no questions asked. Whilst I am in no way a wine buff I have begun to know a lot more about the subject. Whilst you can probably buy cheaper wine in the supermarket it won't be of the same quality. Wine like everything is a case of you get what you pay for.
I know most people just think of a certain single wine when 'rose' wine is mentioned (the one in the odd shaped bottle). Since joining laithwaites I have found many roses which are far better than this (thank goodness) and although I still prefer red a glass of a good rose is nice out on the balcony on a hot summer's day.
What else do they sell?
They also sell a range of international beer and also a selection of some spirits. Whilst the spirits are possibly cheaper elsewhere it did open my eye's (or should that be taste buds?) to Hendrick's gin. Since then, although it is expensive, I haven't bought a different brand of it.
For me now this is the only way I tend to buy my wines. From the traditional European wines to the new world wines I am always happy with my order and all I am left to do is drink it.
Laithwaites sell mainly wine but you can also buy some spirits, champagne and some beer, but they are better known for the wine delivery. The website www.laithwaites.co.uk is pretty straightforward to navigate and you have several search options available to find the wine you want, each wine comes with notes on the taste, the region, drink before date, alcohol percentage, and style.
The home page shows the latest offers and these change on a monthly basis, if you've never used them before you can normally get a very good deal on the introductory case. They also have a four seasons wine service in which you select the type of wine you like red/white or mixed and then select how often you want wine every 2 or 3 months and they automatically send you a case of 12 bottles, you can choose not to accept a case but this is down to you, they automatically take payment from your account.
If you buy online then you do have a delivery charge to pay which is £6.99 and if you want to specify a day then the delivery is from £8.99. You can leave instructions if you're not in where you want the wine leaving. Laithwaites also have a number of shops and wine can be bought from them saving the delivery, they also have the same offers and give discounts in the shops. You can also purchase gift vouchers from them if you wanted to give a wine gift but didn't know what type of wine someone likes.
Is the wine expensive? It's difficult to price compare with supermarket, yes you can get cheaper wine at supermarkets but the quality is not as good. Laithwaites wine is more exclusive to them so you won't tend to see the same wine at the supermarket, the quality of wine is very good and guaranteed by them. A basic standard case of 12 bottles is usually about £69.99 add in the delivery at £6.99 is £76.98 about £6.42 a bottle. An average bottle of wine at the supermarket is around the same price. You can sometimes find voucher codes online giving £20 off the first order which makes it a very good deal for the quality of the wine, but this is first order only.
Delivery is within 5 days and I've never had any issues here, you can specify where you want the wine leaving if you're not in, but I've always been in for deliveries. You can have wine delivered to a separate address if you want.
Other wine shops such as Oddbins offer a delivery service this isn't free unless you spend over £100, and prices are comparable to Laithwaites. I have never tried another wine mail order company so cannot comment on the quality. Waitrose wine also offer a nice selection of wine and delivery is free, but the wine is not any cheaper for similar quality. On a downside unlike the likes of some of the other wine delivery companies and supermarkets you cannot make up your own mixed case on Laithwaites, so either have to purchase 12 bottles of the same wine or take up one of the mixed cases. Occasionally they have 3 bottle deals, and you can buy 2-4 bottles under the gifts section. You can also get a few different cases of half bottle sizes at around £35-£45 for 12 half bottles.
Service is excellent and I have never had any issues on this aspect. They guarantee all the wine and should you have any problems they are quick to resolve, and refund or replace any wine. I did have a case of wine with a few bottles which had gone off, I didn't notice this for several months after my purchase as the initial bottles had been ok, I phoned Laithwaites, and spoke to 1 person (not passed around or one of those press 1 for this 2 for that) he apologised and offered me a full refund or credit, so the service cannot be faulted.
Excellent wine company that really deliver quality wines at more than a fair price. Simply cant get a decent bottle on the high street for under £5 but at laithwaites they blow the competition away with wines that are certianly over £9 in places like wine rack but really good value on here.Why doesnt everyone buy from them?
I have just received another delivery from Laithwaites so I thought I would do a quick review about the company, not just the wine.
**Wine will not be sold to anyone under 18 years of age**
***Drink wine in moderation and be responsible.***
Laithwaites is a mail order wine company offering many types of wine delivered direct to your door.. With their famous saying: 'from the vineyard to your door'
**HISTORY OF LAITHWAITES**
Founded by Tony Laithwaite in 1969, Bordeaux direct, (as Laithwaite was first known) began its life with a small van and a lot of hard work.
The idea was to bring fine wines at affordable prices delivered directly to peoples doors.
Starting with only one type of wine and around a hundred customers the company slowly began to grow, with Tony expanding his suppliers around the world.
During the 1970s he then conquered (in a vineyard searching sort of conquering) most of Southern France, Bulgaria and even as far as Australia.
Then in 1986 Tony managed to open his first shop in Windsor.
Now, almost forty years later and known as Laithwaite, Tony has over 700,000 customers and still supplies some of the worlds finest wines direct to your door.
Laithwaites has in fact won awards for some of its wine, including several 'wines of the year' medals and 'wine merchant of the year 2007'.
I joined laithwaites, via Debenhams on a special offer, many years ago, (not that I drink excessively).
Every three months a man turns up at my front door carrying a neatly packed box from Laithwaites, a quick signature later and I am unpacking the box and stocking up my wine collection.
**IN THE BOX**
six bottles of red wine
Six bottle of white wine
Information sheets regarding the wine in the box.
Information sheet regarding your next delivery (which can be cancelled).
*(cases can vary in sizes, from six bottles upwards)
They have a selection of what they call wine plans:
1) 4 Seasons (offering either a case of white/ case of red or case of red/white)
2) Oz Direct (offering either a case of white/ case of red or case of red/white)
3) Big reds (case of red)
4) Claret club (case of red)
There are always many offers from Laithwaite, such as :
*Bin Ends...which offers bargain prices for end of line stock.,
*Customer favourites... recommendations from other customers.
For more information I do recommend checking online at www.laithwaites.co.uk and see all the bargains on offer.
**TYPES OF WINE ON OFFER**
There are many grape types on offer, such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling and many more, from well known country regions such as France, Chile, South Africa, Italy and several not well known as Moldova and Romania..
Some big named companies have offers in conjunction with Laithwaites, like Debenhams and Barclays.
The easiest way to become a member is to visit the Laithwaites website and order a selection of what they have to offer.
When you first join you are given a splendid offer on your first purchase and a good discount on further offers.
The cost for each bottle of wine/ case of wine varies, depending on how many bottles are purchased.
For example...if you buy 6 bottles of 'Ducale 2006', each bottle will cost £4.29... But if you bought 12 bottles of the same wine each bottle would cost £3.86
*(these prices taken from Laithwaites information pack 4/2008)
I wouldn't say I am a connoisseur of fine wines but I do know what I like and with Laithwaite I have never been disappointed.
The red wines are of especially good quality that I have re-ordered the same type several times, (for special occasions of course)
The prices are reasonable, if not cheap for the quality of the wine and most of the wines from Laithwaite are hard/ if not impossible to find in your average shop so I can not compare prices.
**Remember, wine is there to be enjoyed and savoured...please be responsible when drinking**
I was introduced to Laithwaites via my bank who have some kind of affiliation with the company.
This is a wine company who provide the highest level of customer service in an age where it is forgotten about all too often.
If you telephone with a query, you do not get passed to 10 different people before receiving an answer that doesn't actually answer the question. Instead, you are greeted by a friendly, coherent individual whom I am sure, would happily deliver your wine themselves if they could!
I telephoned recently to enquire about the wines sent in a "mystery case" that I had had delivered, as there were no tasting notes in it. It was explained that because it is a mystery case, they just randomly select the bottles and don't usually supply the notes. However, this was not the end of the conversation as it would be with most companies, the friendly chap at the end of the phone offered to have one of their "wine experts" telephone me at my convenience to answer any questions on any of the wines I had received! I ask you?! A company like this is too few and far between.
In addition to the Excellent customer service people, the wines are really, really good. I can spend hours perusing the supermarket shelves trying to pick something good, however, I just delve into the case delivered by Laithwaites and am pretty much GUARANTEED that I will enjoy the wine I have picked. The prices aren't bad either. I mean, you can get hold of the really expensive stuff for those special occasions, buying just the one bottle so that it doesn't break the bank too much, but I tend to go for the cheaper cases (around £49.99-59.99 per case) and have never been disappointed.
I tend to order by telephone but have also used the internet site, which is really easy to get around and just as efficient service-wise. There are searches that you can do for particular wines; you can view the special offers and log into your account (same account number for all enquiries, phone or internet), enabling you to view past internet orders. The only thing it doesn't do on the internet is capture any orders you have placed by phone in your history.
Delivery is really speedy, I ordered one Friday evening and the cases were waiting for me the following Wednesday when I got home, which was just the ticket as I had had a particularly gruelling day. They use a courier service which I have found to be good - the driver even apologised for us being his last drop once! And at £5.99 for delivery no matter how much you order, it can't be bad!
YOu can order by phone; fax; post (pre-printed order form for this); internet. Payment methods are by cheque (this may only be when doing a order by post - haven't paid by cheque, so not quite sure if you could do this when phoning an order), credit card (mastercard/ visa/ connect/ diners/ amex); Switch. YOu can also split payments when using your credit card, interest-free over 3 months (quite useful after Christmas!).
The only downside to all of this, and it isn't necessarily a down-side is that you get quite alot in the way of leaflets through the post, which is ok if you are looking to make a purchase, but when the wine rack is full, it sometimes gets a bit much. Saying that, I recently took them up on the offer for 6 months free membership of the Premiere club where you (normally) pay an annual fee of £19.95 and in return get 2 free bottles worth at least £13.00-ish every time you order a case of 12 bottles.
Hope this is useful to fellow wine fanatics!
All in all, it is a pleasure to deal with people who obviously take a real pride and pleasure in what they do. I would recommend them to anyone and everyone who has an interest in wine, but isn't necessarily an expert - let Laitwaites do what they are good at and pick the wine for you.
I've been a customer of Laithwaites( formerly Bordeaux Direct) for some years now, and in recent months I've been ordering from their website, partly because it's so convenient, and partly because after years of telephone ordering I'm sure they recognise my voice and must think I'm some kind of an alcoholic.
The Company was started by Tony Laithwaite over 30 years ago, after having worked in French vineyards during his gap year and deciding (quite rightly) that the British needed to know more about good, reasonably priced wine and how to enjoy it. He began by bringing back cases of wine in the back of an old van, and these days, Laithwaites own many of the vineyards themselves, and have exclusive buying rights with others.
Despite the name, Bordeaux Direct soon began introducing us to wines from many different regions, and was one of the first importers of Bulgarian wines to this country back in the 70's. I remember my mum complaining about 'that stuff that gives you headaches' and yes, it was a bit rough, but as a young and ignorant wine drinker I gradually began to experiment with wines far beyond Liebfraumilch and Blue Nun, all thanks to Tony Laithwaite.
With Laithwaites, as they became during the 1990's, I learned an awful lot about wines, grape varieties etc, simply through reading the very helpful tasting notes which they send with each case, notes which are written in a very unpretentious style, and which at the same time, are full of useful information, such as what foods will go well with the wine, and how long to store it, etc. If you're not sure where to start, it's probably best to buy a mixed case, which Laithwaites will have put together thoughtfully, and in this way, you can decide whether you like a particular wine without committing yourself to buy a whole case. If you don't like any of the wines, Laithwaites will refund your money, without quibble. I have, on the odd occasion, had a bottle which is corked (how do you know, I always used to ask - believe me, you know when you get one, by the musty smell that nearly knocks you out) and I've only to e-mail or 'phone them, and they will give me a refund voucher, with a bit extra for the inconvenience, again without quibble. I should emphasise, however, that during nearly 30 years of dealing with Laithwaites, I wouldn't have to take my shoes and socks off to count the number of dodgy wines I've had.
Laithwaites have a number of quarterly and half yearly 'clubs' where you're automatically sent a case (unless you've cancelled it in the meantime) which you're perfectly entitled to do, and there's absolutely no pressure on you to buy the next case. I now belong to the 4 seasons club, the Rioja club, A Taste of Spain, as well as being a Premier Club member. For a small annual fee of, I think about £14.95, you get two free bottles of wine (worth about £12) every time you order 12 bottles or more, so if you place at least two orders a year, you're already quids in, and from time to time, Premier Club members receive a third free bottle for spending over a certain amount of money, usually £100.
Back to the website then - I'm a relative newcomer and what I find useful is that if you've ordered a wine from a previous mailing but have taken a while to get round to drinking it, you can usually find it in the extensive listings on the website, whereas you might otherwise have thrown away the mail order leaflets, and can't for the life of you remember what the wine was called. Often, there'll be special offers exclusive to online customers, and if you sign up for e-mails, you can get some very good bargains on bin-end cases too.
The site is very easy to use - you need to register, naturally, and you'll be given a seven digit customer number, and you can either use this or your e-mail address to log in on future visits. The wines are listed by grape variety, country of origin, colour, or you can select a price range to choose from - alternatively, click on to mixed cases, where you'll get a huge selection to mull over. My only criticism here, is that I find I'm invariably spoilt for choice, and I end up spending too much. The ordering process is very easy indeed, and you can have the wine sent either to your own address, or to an alternative address, and they ask you to give brief instructions as to where the carrier can safely leave the wine if you're out when they call. Delivery time is quoted as being up to 14 days, but in practice, it's usually two or three days, and in fact, I've just taken delivery of a case I ordered online less than 48 hours ago.
Laithwaites charge £4.99 per delivery, regardless of the amount ordered, which I consider is very little, considering I'm very rarely disappointed with a wine, unlike the experiences I've had with some of the mass-produced rubbish to be found in supermarkets, masquerading under such romantic names as Sweaty Creek or Dead Man's Gulch or some equally corny title. £6 spent at Laithwaites is the equivalent of £9-£10 spent at your local supermarket, and you don't have to lug it home.
What I like about Laithwaites is that you feel you can trust their judgement. Previously, I'd never made particularly good choices from supermarkets, especially with white wines, where it was always a bit hit and miss, but I do feel confident with Laithwaites' descriptions, and I don't think I've ever felt misled by them. I always feel that I'm getting value for money too, and despite the fact that it's obviously a very much bigger concern than the one man, one van band it was in the early 70's, they still manage to convey the personal touch, with Tony Laithwaite writing many of the messages and descriptions himself. His beaming (if slightly pink!)face can always be seen on the website and on the mailing leaflets, and you know this is a man who believes in the stuff he sells!
Laithwaites, as it is now know, is the longest established mail order wine company in the UK. They have built themselves up to an enviable position as one of the biggests mail order retailers in the country, and deserve that status. The key to their quality is that Laithwaites deal directly with the vinyard, not through middlemen, so the wine you buy via Laithwaites will always be better than wine at the same price in the shops. A £5 wine here will be as good as a £7 wine in Tescos. Not only that, the wines are very carefully picked, and Laithwaites have built up good relations with their suppliers, so the quality is consistently good. The website is really a support for the normal mail order catalogue. The best way to use the site is to decide most of what you are going to buy from the catalogues you will be posted, then go online to place your order, and to look at the binends and special offers that abound on the site. My last case of red cost £40 instead of £60! The site itself is well layed out, and very easy to use and search. You get more info on the individual wines here that you do in the printed catalogues, and access to the entire range, rather than a selection. Ordering uses the standard shopping basket approach, and feels as secure as any other e-commerce site. Finally, delivery is very speedy - I have once placed an order late on friday night, to have it arrive on the next monday afternoon - only one working day! The average is three days, and only one order has ever taken more than a week. For wine you can trust, delivery you can trust, and good prices, you would have to go a long way to beat Laithwaites.
I have been a regular customer of Bordeaux Direct (aka Laithwaites) for over 5 years and have always been very happy with the quality of the wines and the service I have received. They are a well established concern who have been trading for over 30 years but have introduced their online service quite recently. The name stems from their original dealings direct with French vineyards but they now offer a good selection of wines from all over the world. They still tend to concentrate on the smaller select wines rather than mass produced stuff and the quality, in my humble opinion, is always good. Prices range from about £5 per bottle upwards but there are many special offers available, including a special introductory discount for new customers. You can order online and pay by credit card on a secure link. Delivery charge is usually from £4.95 for a 12 bottle case. I have always found delivery to very prompt (about 3 to 4 days) and very reliable. They also guarantee that if you do not like a wine, whatever the reason, they will replace it. Well worth a try if you are a regular wine drinker who is looking for something different at a reasonable price.