Can Le Petit Ballon Find A Place In The Tough UK Market?


The people who arranged my trip out to Romania asked me to come along to a couple of evenings in London recently. They were showcasing a client of theirs who are in the mail order wine business. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it for one reason or another, but they kindly sent me a couple of bottles to have a go at in my own time at home. On the face of it, it’s just another wine mail order service, but with one or two interesting tweaks…

Le Petit Ballon is a French company set up by a couple of mates who did wine business school together in Burgundy. The ethos is heading round France and picking their selection of the best wines and best value around. They’ve also got multi-award winning Master Sommelier Jean-Michel Deluc on board to taste through with them. So we’ve got business graduates and a top wine-o? They should make something good out of this! Well, the number one wine subscription business in France is what they’ve come up with!

I’m a big fan of them of them having Jean-Michel on board. I can’t cope with the dumbing down of everything that seems to be happening at the minute. It’s almost a dirty word to say someone’s an “expert” at something. Well balls to that, if someone’s picking my wine for me I want to know they’ve got half a clue what they’re doing. And this guy clearly does. More involved wine-o’s can trust him.

The other thing I love is the way it’s presented. Each wine turns up with a tasting note, food pairing guide, and a little pub quiz style fact about what you’re about to drink. Everyone who tries to sell wine to people needs to sell a story. There are too many bloody wines around to just not bother. Each wine comes with a reason they picked it, a reason why it counts (to them) as one of the best value in France. That means something to us punters.

They don’t really need me to wish them luck. They’re doing a great deal of business across France, Belgium, and now the UK. But I’ll wish them it anyway. It’s not exactly reinventing the wheel, just improving it here and there.





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