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Mystery cases

The only mystery to me is why anyone would forgo the pleasure of staring at a wine list for hours then buying whatever wine they want.

When looking at the posts about what people have received I am reminded of Phillip Marlowe (noir PI from the pen of Chandler) being given a wedge of banknotes which turned out to be not that much money after all.

‘Two top cards and a load of hay’ was the expression.


Well, I think part of the attraction is that some of us realize that we have tendencies that we’ve formed in how we choose wine. Many of those are just to gravitate to the sorts of wines we like, but others are probably just habit. Having said that, I can’t imagine participating in Society mystery cases, because they seem predictable and conventional, so unlikely to challenge my assumptions regardless. But I have been known when booking music to add something by randomly choosing an evening. Many of them I haven’t liked, but it has also introduced me to a few that have become farourites.


Well @Prufrock
I think you’ve under estimated the gambler in us all.

I’ve looked at the list almost continuously, lusted over lots of wine, but it’s great to be told what you want and also to chance on an expensive gem.

The wonder of wine is the surprise after all.


Opened the first bottle from mine last night. The Pouilly Fusse.

It was an interesting experience. Punched both above and bellow its weight. It smelled like an excellent white burgundy, that could have cost twice the price, but with the added tropical notes the extra warmth provided.

On the pallet it didn’t live up to the nose. It was still a good wine, but nothing like as good as the nose. Classic Pouilly Fusse citrus and slight tropical notes with nice integrated oak. Clearly headed towards the end of its life, hence being in a bin end case. Had it not smelled as good as it did I’d have almost certainly been happy with it flavour wise too!


Perhaps I could offer a response, or riposte, on behalf of the purchasers of such cases…

Without wishing to come across as bragging (that isn’t the point of this) but I have 898+ bottles of wine sat in my cellar (with many more pending). The trouble is I know only too well what I like. I spend interminable hours staring at the racks wondering whether those wines are ready to drink, and thinking, that on an idle Wednesday with a fish supper, would that just be a waste?

If I were to simply order everyday wines in the same price range as these, for immediate/mid-term drinking, I’d simply only ever buy Thymiopoulos, López de Heredia and La Rioja Alta, with a few South West France producers thrown in, because frankly I find the quality for price from those areas to be streets ahead of most others. Which leaves me in a wine rut. And no amount of staring at wine lists could ever change that, because I know that’s the usual outcome ‘yeah it’s alright, but I could get better for that price elsewhere’.

Moreover, the mystery case we got came with about C. £30 added value (the inexactitudes of finding what the actual, removed, TWS price was aside), so I’ll probably be trying wines that I wouldn’t normally purchase (as above). I have no doubt that several will disappoint, or perhaps not live up to expectations - a case in point we had The Rotier Gaillac the other night. Way too much Syrah, doesn’t blend well with the indigenous varieties, there are far better Gaillacs out there, but not in Lockdown for £7.92 delivered, unless shipping over from someone like Toulouvin, which of course involves buying a full case of South West wines.

TWS is one of the few (only?) supplier in the UK where their huge range makes a mystery case, at those prices, a reasonable proposition.


That may be your opinion, as someone who bought a case of the mystery wine I can say that it was worth the money.

At the time of purchasing the society didn’t allow single bottles to be purchased, so no matter how much time I’d spend going through the list there is only a limited number of wines I’d want to buy 6 or 12 bottles of, so I thought why not?

I think one of the best things about this community and the Society is that you get to experience new and different wine, that’s the fun for me. If I’d been able to get to the Bin End sale at the showroom I probably would’ve picked up some random bottles to try as well. So the mystery case ticked all the boxes for me. I’d never have considered buying a Croatian wine or Moldovan wine, out of the 12 I received I’d only tried 2 before. That’s the fun and the adventure…oh and the excitement of waiting for the case, not knowing what you’ll get until you open the box!!!


I’m very glad you did. And a well made and convincing argument if I might say so.

But just to keep it going…

I have found that an absolute stab in the dark usually ends with nothing on the end of the fork. And I too love Thymiopoulos, but I found it by keeping an eye open on reviews, often from people who sort of seemed to have the same taste as me. In other words I would rather stab in the half light or dusk.

I too have a reasonable chunk of wine which is by and large old school; claret, burgundy, champagne and port. With a bit of this and that thrown in. And that is what I like. Wine touches me because when it is right it speaks to me clearly. It connects me with a cultural history. Am I wrong to love getting to know one producer from burgundy? Or following one chateau or village in Bordeaux? I find the search for new things a bit confusing. And I am bit like whoever said that it is better to know one book well than many superficially. I am not dogmatic about this but I find a narrower view helps me see better. When presented with new varieties and regions I often find it difficult to get my bearings, as it were, the wines do not ‘speak’ to me.

Neither am I much enamoured of the endless pursuit of the cheap and value. I find it almost as bad as the endless pursuit of the greatest, be it DRC, Screagle, Petrus whatever. I often think it comes from the same place, philosophically I mean.

This I can relate to.


Most, if not all of us will give wine as a gift from time to time. Therefore if there are one or two bottles in your mystery case that aren’t quite to your tastes, then there is a natural exit strategy for them, particularly if you know of a relative or friend who likes that style.

If you get any Yellow Tail or JP Chenet, @Herbster is just the man to help you out…


That for me is the adventure, learning about new wines, new styles helps to remove the confusion. Perhaps the wine or style I haven’t tried yet is going to be my favourite. If people didn’t try something new or want to discover a new blend or a new variety wouldn’t the wine world be boring and we probably wouldn’t be spending our time on this community?

There is, however, something wonderful about going back to the same producer or the same wine year after year, especially if you have the luxury of a vertical tasting. It’s that creature comfort that can be so pleasing, so I get that and I do the same, but there is a real pleasure for me it trying a new grape or style or wine from a new country. That’s the fun of the mystery!


Nearly spat out my wine reading this.


That is true. What I am thinking is that my pleasure of adventure happens within often quite small geographical areas. And I have found that I feel I get more out of the wine, almost spiritual. In the case of burgundy quite literally spiritual. One day I shall open a bottle of the Clos de Beze and of course I will think of the monks who have been making wine there since 630AD or whenever it was.

But I ramble. And what I say is more about my character that what is ‘right’ in this context.


That sounds like a great adventure. Is that the fun of wine? Everyone has their own experiences and pleasures!

It seems BBR is also on the bandwagon, with prices slightly more … elevated than TWS’s offer.


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I got that email yesterday too… though I notice a little sharp practice on the part of BBR (who, it has to said, I’m generally a fan of) as they have transposed reviews over from the more ‘known unknown’ of Bordeaux and French mystery cases and put them at the bottom of the list for plain old just mystery cases.

Still, if you’ve got £535 for a punt, the £645 worth of wine seems a decent deal. Depending on whether it’s real-world pricing, or BBX-chancing-their-arm pricing, in which case, you’d be about £100 down on the deal :wink:


Got a lockdown mystery case of 6 for £129. Using Wine Searcher I reckon the individual values roughly as:

Pataille La Montagne 2015 £40
Ch. Cantemerle 2007 £30
Villa Vetrice Chianti Rufino Reserva 2012 £17
J.Hofstätter Joseph Gewürztraminer 2017 £19
Guillemot-Michel Quintaine, Viré-Clessé 2017 £29
Bouzel, Champagne Brut Reserve NV £35

Hence £170 of wine. Interesting mix but somehow wasn’t expecting a champagne.


That’s a great collection! Possibly the best value yet! I got a bottle of Boizel too, which I was also surprised at, I wonder if they’re expecting another shipment and wanted to make space. I don’t get why as it’s still a mainstay of the regular champagne list!


Yeah i’d be really happy with that @TonyMcC looks like a good selection.

Whilst we may not think of just popping a champagne for the hell of it treat yourself!


Absolutely @Aaronb. After all it’s not only champagne it’s effectively free champagne.


Jeez, you won a watch.

I know what you mean regarding unexpected champagne but it’s a good un, just give it some time.

I have tasted 3 of these, but the other 3 are from impeccable producers and look excellent.


You see I’ve been wondering if we need to. I’m wondering if they found an old case somewhere in a dank corner of a darkened warehouse and have actually done the giving it some time for us.