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New World

  • ATTENBOROUGH ON CHRISTMAS: THE HUNT

    *Adopts hushed David Attenborough voice* Behold, the Christmas Shopper! This strange creature emerges once a year, on its winter migration down the High Street, to hunt down presents for its family. Whilst not essential to the group’s survival, they appear to do it for fun.

    The crew here at Oddbins have been studying their feeding habits and, along with their well-documented preference for raw salmon, turkey and Christmas pudding (although this last one seems to make some Christmas Shoppers confused and angry), we have noted their favourite Christmas drinks, which reveal a remarkable sophistication.

    Ever ritualistic, the Christmas Shopper always tracks down a sparkling wine which they pair with the salmon. Extraordinary. The particularly skilled hunters know the best hunting ground is in Oddbins and are able to track down rare Champagnes such Drappier Carte d’Or NV. Made by a family House, with a large proportion of Pinot Noir, it has incredible flavours of peach, quince and spice that make the perilous High Street a risk worth taking.

    Rush

    The circle of life is sometimes cruel and, whilst it giveth to the Christmas Shopper, it taketh away from the turkey. These two groups – mortal enemies – only ever do combat at Christmas and it only ever goes one way… Once the group has its turkey, they will only settle down for feeding time once the parents have found a decent bottle of Pinot Noir. Tagging devices placed on the parents suggests a favourite is the Cuvée G Burgundy from Albert Bichot. Experts believe it is a hit owing to the fact that it was made in collaboration with the renowned Bernard Loiseau restaurant, specifically to go with food. Yet again, we can only marvel at the skill of the Christmas Shopper.

    For the past two years, outside influences new to this species sent them into an unseasonably early frenzy on ‘Black Friday’. A curious phenomenon with worrying consequences, you can see the unique footage of the confused Christmas Shoppers captured by Black Friday experts below…

    Attenborough

  • DISCOVER ANOTHER SIDE TO CHILE

    What do you think of when you think of Chilean wine? We would bet our bottom dollar that the first thing that springs to mind is fresh, easy-drinking good value Sauvignon Blanc. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with fresh, easy-drinking good value Sauvignon Blanc. Indeed, if you were to present us with a bowl of chili, ginger and garlic prawns with coconut rice and fresh coriander, we would demand nothing other than a fresh, easy-drinking good value Sauvignon Blanc, such as the laser-sharp zest fest that is Pora Py’a.

    However, like a latter-day John and Yoko, with a slightly different agenda, we are here to say ‘give other wines from Chile a chance’. For there is a small but fascinating group of producers who are moving away from full-throttle, pure varietal wines, to blended, nuanced wines made in the cooler fringes of this towering, strip of a country.

    Chile - Pic 1

    Via Wines, for example, have created Oveja Negra – a madcap blend of Sauvignon Blanc and… Carmenère? Bizarrely, it works. Really well. When made into a white wine (by not leaving it on the skins during fermentation), Carmenère’s spicy fruit and capsicum freshness complement the juicy, zingy pizazz of Sauvignon Blanc perfectly.

    Another small but important trend in Chilean wine is their almost supernatural way with Pinot Noir. This most fickle of grapes can end up flabby and boring in the wrong hands, but Chile seems to have become particularly green-fingered with Pinot. Viña Leyda Reserva Pinot Noir, for example, is as delicately fragrant as a midsummer breeze and is a tasty testament to the lighter side of Chile.

    Chile - Pic 2

    Here comes the science: cooler climes mean fresher wines and another trend for forward-thinking producers is, instead of focusing on the coolness found at more southerly latitudes, they are realising the importance of the cooling effect of the ocean. The windswept, maritime environment almost convinces the grapes they are in Europe and the resulting wines are very much European in style. Viña Leyda Canelo Syrah, for example, is more like a delicately spiced, violet-laced northern Rhône Syrah than many Chilean examples, which can be quite blockbuster-y in fruit, spice and structure. So, if you're looking for more art-house than blockbuster, take another look at Chile - its cinematic landscape and vinous auteurs means there's something for everyone...

  • THE PALATE 2014: THE AUSTRALIAN ADVENTURE

    For this edition of Odd Blog, we hand over the reins to Steve Saunders, the affable Bristolian and new Dad who blew us all away at The Palate 2014 and sipped, slurped and gargled his way to wine tasting victory. Over to you, Steve...

    So here we were, just over five months after the whirlwind of vinous pleasure that was The Palate 2014, and I was off to Australia - the headline-grabbing prize that I was amazed to have won last September, courtesy of Longview Wines and Berton Vineyards. I was even allowed to take the other half with me. Lovely.

    Having chatted via email with Longview’s winemaker and all-round great bloke Peter Saturno, I had my tickets ready and a pretty sensational itinerary. The relaxed sage of the Eden Valley, Bob Berton (of Berton Vineyards fame), then dropped me a line with the plan for the first couple of days at his place. He gave me an interesting choice of either food and wine matching with some old friends of his, or shark diving. As I have not yet had my arm bitten off by a glass of Shiraz I chose the former. Maybe next time Jaws.

    Sydney

    As Australia is quite a trek, Peter and those excellent folks at Oddbins moved my flights about so I could stay in Oz for the best part of two weeks. I spent the first week with my cousin Andrew and his girlfriend Pen in Sydney and, between reptile parks, 360 degree dining and a few beers in ‘Crowy’ (a suburb in Sydney) we also found time to hit some wineries, before commencing the rest of the trip. I was so excited I could crush a grape – which I did, but more of that later….

    After a quick flight to Adelaide we were met by Peter Saturno and, after somehow managing to keep pace with him in our Hyndai i20 hire car, we arrived at the beautiful Longview Vineyards. We were housed in one of the new eco lodges at the vineyard, which was fantastic and housed an array of great wines. Not only that but it was also overlooking a block of Pinot Noir vines… appetite suitably whetted we met Peter and his brother and partner in crime, Mark, in the dining room for dinner. We chatted like old friends around a roaring fire and enjoyed an array of delicious dishes including rare beef, salads and roasted vegetables.

    Longview

    We kicked things off with a tour of the Longview winery, which involved some grape picking, squashing and tasting, checking out the various blocks of vines and watching two Grey Kangaroos hop away after a free sip of the Nebbiolo. Throughout our stay, we got our laughing gear around the other Longview wines, including the Red Bucket Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, which took this classic white Bordeaux blend to new heights with its fresh citrus flavours and zippy acidity. The Whippet Sauvignon Blanc , which had fresh lemon with elderflower and herby notes, with a lovely restraint and elegance but that burst of up-front deliciousness the Aussies do so well. The smooth berry flavours of Red Bucket Shiraz-Cabernet/Sauvignon followed by the minted blackcurrant and spice of Devil’s Elbow Cabernet Sauvignon and then the decadent raspberry and pepper of Yakka Shiraz. Yum. Our final day in the Adelaide Hills had come too soon, so it was with regret that we bade goodbye to our wonderful hosts (although we cheered up when we were given a bottle of the juicy megalith that is The Piece Shiraz [available in selected Oddbins] to take with us (yesssss)!

    Steve

    Our trip to Eden Valley saw us acquainted with the laid back and wonderfully affable Bob and Cherie Berton of Berton Vineyards. After a quick beer and a chat we made our way over to the restaurant at Peter Seppelt Wines. We had a pretty racy and citrusy Riesling to kick things off then shared a wonderful array of wood-fired pizzas, washed down with a drop or two of Shiraz before we headed back to Berton.

    After a critically important lie in Bob, Cherie, my wife Steph and I drove to the Murray River where we enjoyed a rather lovely Berton Vermentino with fish and chips before going back for a wonderful slow roast lamb dinner with more excellent Shiraz and Cherie helped Steph dispose of a white tail spider which had joined us via our suitcase.. We then repaired to the lounge where Bob attempted to tutor me in the ways of Australian Rules football. To no avail. A great day though and a nice relaxing final day before we had to prepare for our flight back home.

    As Bob had to get back across Australia to take a flight to the UK, Steph and I used the time to make sure no more errant spiders had made their way into our cases. We then hit the road and had an excellent lunch at Lou Miranda Estate of light, crispy calamari and some excellent Pinot Grigio. Sadly it was then time to head back to the UK but with a head and heart full of wonderful memories of great food and wine and incredible people. And about half a stone to lose.

    Thanks to everyone for such a fabulous trip but especially to Peter and Mark Saturno and Bob and Cherie Berton – and of course Oddbins – for making this dream journey a reality.

    Cheers!

    ***You can find Oddbins’ range of Longview Wines in-store and here and our range of Berton Vineyards wines in-store or here***

  • THE PALATE, FASHION FAUX PAS & EVIL

    This week saw the culmination of London Fashion Week and, thank heavens, people now know what to wear again. We’d been running out of ideas and feeling afraid, and had started lashing out with clashing prints, double denim and anything else close to hand. Oddbins’ Managing Director Ayo, however, is bold and doesn’t need such direction. Too bold, some may say, but nonetheless, he stuck to his guns with his red trousers at The Palate Final last Saturday, September 6:
    Some people, like Odd Writer, are Followers, becoming manic and Gollum-like without annual direction from Jean Paul Gaultier. Ayo, however, is not. Neither is Steve Saunders, this year’s winner of The Palate (our annual search for the nation’s finest amateur wine taster). Steve is a fashion leader (not in a sartorial sense, though we do admire his black pinstripe shirt), but in terms of his communication style. When he was asked to do a presentation on why he had paired a pumpkin tart with the Verget Mâcon Bussières 2012, Steve gloriously avoided any prescribed Wine Speak whilst hitting the nail on the head, in a fresh, direct manner. So what did he say? “I chose this particular match as the classic oatmeal and peach characteristics of the Chardonnay went very well with the pumpkin, while the wine's buttery finish complemented the pastry. The subtle hazelnut notes on the finish combined seamlessly with the truffle and, overall, the wine had sufficient weight and texture to cope with the egg filling. Together, both food and wine lifted each other, flavour-wise, to something greater than the sum of their parts.” In almost Churchillian style, this was the speech what won it for Steve, earning him the title of The Palate 2014, a luxury holiday for two to Australia, a magnum or Laurent-Pérrier and an engraved ‘Palate 2014’ decanter.
    Over 21,000 of you entered The Palate (not you, in a Being John Malkovich way; that would be weird) this year and, we have to say, some of the other suggested food and wine matches were memorable. Quarter Finalist Jerome, from Oxford, went wildly left-of-centre with his suggestion of ‘salted aardvark’ with Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde 2013 and Heather, from Aberdeen, broke new ground with her suggestion, ‘cantaloupe melon carved into the shape of a shark, swimming in a sea of lemon sorbet’. We’re reassured to see that you’re all just as mad as we are. Anyway, if you took part this year, we hope it left you with a renewed sense of how fun and unpretentious wine tasting can be. We reckon runner-up Robert Macaloney, from Glasgow, who won £300 to spend at Oddbins (“which was promptly cashed in the very next day”), summed it up nicely when he said: “I’ve always felt my tasting abilities were very, very average but I surprised myself throughout the competition in that I actually wasn’t too bad at all.”
    OK. You know how we’ve always said how pleasant and modest our Buyer, Ana, is? Yes well she’s not – she’s evil. Ana set the wines for the sparkling wine exam at The Palate Final and included Albert Bichot Crémant de Bourgogne Réserve Privée NV, which is really, really delicious. Just cruel. With its fine bubbles, crisp acidity and inflections of manuka honey and toast, it could easily pass for Champagne and is, therefore, darn tricky to answer questions on. As we say, pure evil. If you want to see just how demonic Ana and the other judges were, just have a look at our blog, and keep an eye on our website for The Palate video. Just have a sofa to hide behind. S’alls we’re saying.

    ‘Til next time.

  • BLACK SHEEP AND SHAKY STARTS

    This week is A-level results week. Whether you are a have a younger brother or sister, who’s currently prostrate on a sofa, still staring grimly/elatedly at their results papers, dusting the kebab crumbs off their shirt, or a parent, trying really very hard to be enthusiastic about your off-spring’s C in ‘Citizenship Studies’, but wondering if a quick secretarial course is still an option, Oddbins is here for you. That probably doesn’t sound well-meaning coming from a wine merchant, but we have honourable intentions, we promise. Let us elucidate… All the best people have wobbly beginnings. Before becoming a ‘national treasure’, Stephen Fry was quite the black sheep, having been expelled from two schools and sent to prison. So rest easy, folks – ‘coz ‘black sheep’, like ‘ugly ducklings’, ‘underdogs’ and other animal-related subclasses, are the best. It is in this spirit that we collar some defiantly odd wines from a country not known for experimentation and shove them into the Odd News spotlight…
    The country we speak of is that thin, vertiginously mountainous strip of land that is Chile. Chileans are masters of ready-to-go, reliable, top value wines, which is obviously great. Super. Lovely. But… sometimes it’s nice to go mental, take all your clothes off and jump into a lake. Which is what, in vinous terms, the next wine does. Called ‘Oveja Negra’, which is Spanish for ‘black sheep’, and priced £8.75, it is a whacked-out blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Carmenère. A zingy white wine blended with a juicy red wine? Well, like our Citizenship Studies student, the choice may look unlikely, but it works. Sauvignon’s grapefruit-fresh zippiness marries exceptionally well with the plump yet herbaceous Carmenère. Oveja Negra might just be geniuses.
    So, if Oveja Negra is Chile’s black sheep, then Viña Leyda is their ‘ugly duckling’. Not that they were ever ugly as such. More like lonesome, frontier-dwelling outsiders. As we mentioned in Odd News a few weeks back, they were the first ones to set up camp in the Leyda Valley, which was previously farmed for wheat and barley, and secured its status as an official wine region in 2001. They continue to push the envelope, leaving the crowd way behind as they experiment with grapes like Sauvignon Gris (£11) – a rare, older sister of Sauvignon Blanc that is more expressive, tropical and spicy than its popular younger sister. If they were a family, they’d probably be the Kennedys; talented and celebrated, with varying levels of fame and exotic tendencies…
    Finally we turn to Chile’s underdog. We’ve waxed lyrical many a time about New World Chardonnay. It’s got a bad rep. ‘It’s big, oaky, overblown’, people say. They say ‘it’ll never satisfy me the way a nice crisp Burgundian Chardonnay does’. But we know otherwise, don’t we reader? We know that, if you go high up enough into the mountains, past the cloud line, where the temperature drops and the grapes can cool right down at night-time, you can get some mouth-wateringly lemony, nuanced, flinty charmers like De Martino Chardonnay (£11), which, one day, will go on to rule the world and people will say ‘I am soo glad I didn’t send him off to do a secretarial course’. Know what we mean?

    So, as your loved one studies those letters on that bit of paper, you can all be safe in the knowledge that it is a long road and this isn’t the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning… and Oddbins is just down the road (or on the computer) when you need us.

    Ciao.

  • ART, USAIN BOLT AND THE FICKLENESS OF VALUE

    1 August, 2014

    Value is a fickle thing. If spotted on the arm of a Middleton sister, the price of a seemingly bland handbag can skyrocket faster than Usain Bolt leaving Glasgow after calling the Commonwealth Games ‘a bit s**t’, while house prices in Lancashire drop as quickly as you can say ‘fracking is dangerous and dirty’. Salvador Dalí was a master at manipulating value and, after taking friends out to dinner, would often do a sketch on the back of the cheque, pretty much safe in the knowledge that it wouldn’t be cashed as it was more valuable to them as a ‘Dalí original’. Our point? Value is what you perceive it to be. So, without wanting to do a Dalí and inflate opinion and therefore price, we’d like to show some appreciation to that unjustly under-valued sparkler; Cava.
    Cava is a prince among men. It is the only sparkling wine that, by law, has to be made the same way as Champagne. This ‘traditional’ method, which involves a second fermentation in the bottle, pretty much guarantees extra depth of character and finer bubbles. So why the blazes the prices aren’t higher, we know not. In this context, Cavas like Anna de Codorníu (£10.50) begin to look darn hot. The Codorníu family were the first Spaniards to use the traditional method and are something of experts at it; Anna de Codorníu, for example, is exceedingly Champagne-like, with a soft, well-balanced and refreshing palate, elegant citrus notes and fine, persistent bubbles. So, think of Cava like an eccentric aristocrat that runs around in a battered old Mini, giving no indication that they’re actually Lord Asquith Wellington Montagu the Second, tenant of Walsingham Court and owner of half of England.
    Now. All this is at odds with the fact that that Spanish food staple, tapas, is often hideously over-priced. We’ve seen grown men break down in anguished sobs, screaming “but it’s a street foooooood” when they see menus listing tapas at £8 per dish. That ain’t pretty. So, whaddaya do? You have a P-A-R-T-why? Because tapas, particularly seafood tapas, pairs brilliantly with Cava and, together, they can make for a great fiesta, for not a lot of pesetas (sorry, euros). Crispy calamari with garlic mayonnaise, for example, is a match made in heaven for Cava Renaixenca Brut (£11). Pronounced ‘rennay-shen-sha’, this is a Catalan set-up that has been in the Pons family for 250 years and, today, Joan and Pere Pons embrace both tradition and modern technology to great effect. This Brut Non Vintage has a gently playful fizz, subtle creamy notes from the 20 months spent ageing on its ‘lees’ (used yeast), combining with a gorgeously cool, thirst-quenching rush of green fruit.
    For the next six weeks, Oddbins will be looking at the Art of Wine. For it is made by skilled craftsmen who must balance a number of elements and its aim is to stimulate the senses; who says it isn’t art? If a load of bricks on the floor of Tate Modern – or ‘Equivalent VIII’ by Carl Andre to give it its proper title – constitutes art, then we’re darn sure our next Cava does. Shimmering gold, with copper reflections and exquisitely fine bubbles, we’d go so far to say that Torre Oria Reserva (£9.50) is the Gustav Klimt of the wine world. *Rubbing our hands and warming to our theme* which would make the gentle brush strokes of Anna de Codorníu a Claude Monet and the playful, cool Cava Renaixenca an Alexander Calder mobile. Excellent. Wine is so much easier than art. But what do you think? Finish the statement “Wine is easier than art because” on Twitter, using the hashtag #WineVsArt, to win a bottle of Champagne.

    And not one ear was cut off in the writing of this email – there’s one reason wine is easier than art for a start…

    ‘Til next time.

  • FOOTBALL LOVE, FOOTBALL HATE, FOOT WHAT?

    20 June, 2014

    Major sporting tournaments tend to polarise sporty types and non-sporty types into two squarely opposing camps. The sporty types gather together to discuss tactics, glancing dubiously at the non-sporty types, while the non-sporty types wonder what the fuss is about, becoming increasingly incredulous towards their Lycra-clad opposites. But the World Camp introduces a third type: the ignorant enthusiast (Oddbins falls into this category). So, this week, whether you’re a lover, a hater or an intrigued novice swept up in the excitement of it all, we’ve something for you this World Cup…

    Mari

    Firstly, for the haters. We know that, when you haven’t got your head in the sand and your fingers in your ears avoiding football, you’re a really nice bunch. You like a good laugh and you like rooting out curious libations – that’s why you subscribe to Odd News, right? So, to appease your football-weary souls, may we introduce a lama. “What???” you may splutter. But don’t worry, we’re not talking about the fluffy South American camel, we’re talking about Mari – Join the Lama (275ml, 5.9%, £3.95): a medium-sweet fusion of Mosel Riesling, fermented Yerba Maté (tea leaves) from Argentina and Austrian elderflower. It sounds mental but it tastes out of this world. Also from Austria and also rather leftfield, we have a sparkling Grüner Veltliner made by wine wunderkind Markus Huber. With all the sensual orchard fruit and bold spice of still Grüner Veltliner, wrapped up in an enticing, soft fizz, it’s a total delight. Supplies are limited, so get stuck in whilst you can.

    FOX

    Secondly, for the ‘intrigued novice swept up in the excitement of it all’, we have a cunning plan that involves watching the World Cup and winning a £50 gift card, without knowing a crumb about football. Here’s how it works:

    1. Purchase a pair of wines that are up against each other (wine matching explanations here; wine and fixtures here)
    2. Taste the wines at home. (This is easier with four friends or relatives).
    3. Score the wines thus: each taster decides if they prefer one wine over the other or if it’s a draw. Each person preferring a wine scores a goal for the corresponding team.  So if three tasters prefer wine A, one prefers wine B and one has no preference, your score is 3-1 to Wine A. If all 5 tasters don’t have a preference between the wines, your score is 0-0
    4. Post your score (whether it’s 3:2 or 0:0), with a picture of both wines together, on Twitter or Facebook, using @OddbinsWine. To state the bleedin’ obvious, Tweets must be posted before the match.*
    5. All correct predictions will win a £50 gift card**
    6. We do not accept bribes. Unlike certain members of a Geneva-based ‘not-for-profit organisation’ reportedly.

    *ReTweets do not count as entries
    **One prediction is allowed per person, per match

    DES OLLIEUXThirdly, for people who actually know about football. Regardless of whether England cling on to life tonight (Forza Italia!), you can win wine this World Cup. If you correctly predict any score, using your knowledge of the game, we’ll give you both teams’ representative wines. For example, if you predict that Germany will beat Ghana 3-1 tomorrow, you win Château Ollieux La Volière (representing France) and Oveja-Negra Sauvignon Blanc/Carmenère (representing Ghana). For all the team’s wines, click here. To repeat, we’re inviting you to call any match to win wine. Just reply to this email, or Tweet us @Oddbins, using #WorldCup, before the match.*

    *Again, one prediction is allowed per person, per match. ReTweets do not count as entries.

    Yea, though our football knowledge be sparse and our passion sporadic, we will find a way to involve wine in the World Cup in any way we can.

    Go football!

  • SHOCK NEWS

    We’re sorry to start this edition of Oddnews on a downer, especially as we had promised you fun in our last correspondence, but we’ve got some really bad news…
    We’ve had our heads down busily planning Christmas and missed the breaking news earlier in the week that Santa Claus had been involved in an accident, resulting in the cancellation of all festivities this year. Our sources inform us that in a dry run for Christmas Eve, he lost control of his sledge at high speed and in the ensuing melee became impaled on Blitzen’s antler.But try not to panic. Rumours abound that Oddbins may have found a replacement for everyone’s favourite annual chimney botherer. We cannot divulge too much at this stage, except that she has commissioned the very talented Tariq Knight to make a series of videos for us, which are sure to put the magic back into Christmas… You can watch the first one by clicking here.

    We’re in love. And we’re not sure that this madness will be so temporary…Captain Correlli’s Mandolin was set on Kephalonia and featured a character called Father Arsenios, who - how can we put this diplomatically? - liked a glass of wine. One wine that he particularly enjoyed was Robola. Jessica Shinner, an Oddbins customer from London, also enjoyed this wine when holidaying on the Greek island, which is thankfully a lot less war torn than in the days described in the bestselling novel. But when she got home she couldn’t find the wine anywhere. That was until she heard about The Listing, our initiative to source those wines that you fall in love with on your summer sojourns or winter wanderings. Jessica filled in our online form and Antonio’s your Captain... Gentilini’s Robola is our first import for The Listing. Jessica has received a cheque in the post for her efforts and it is well deserved because this crisp, but full-bodied, Greek white, with its blossom and citrus flavours, is one to fall very permanently in love with.

    If you feel inspired to drop us a line with your holiday wines, you can find out more about The Listing by clicking here.

    Misery? We don’t want misery. We want fun, more fun and a side portion of fun. So what is the spirit of this age? Is it the rich and rewarding Junmai Akashi Tai Daiginjo Sake? The French grape-based Ciroc Coconut Vodka perhaps? The rare and discontinued Fettercairn 1824 12 Year Old Single Malt perchance? Possibly the overwhelmingly awesome anCnoc 22 Year Old Single Malt? A Jessica Ennis-Hill-esque Cask Strength Glengoyne maybe? Or the only way to finish a Mexican meal: Patron XO Cafe? It's a tough call. But one thing’s for sure, having just added almost 60 new spirits, you are bound to find the spirit of this age and maybe even some festive spirit on Oddbins.com.That’s all from us, but keep your mince pies peeled for our special guest coming soon to Twitter and bringing with her the chance to win some Champagne...

  • ODDBINS VS JAMES BROWN

    It’s Friday and we feel good, da na na na na na na, we knew that we would now, da na na na na na na. And as you might have guessed, just for fun, this edition of Oddnews is inspired by the hardest-working man in show business, Mr James Brown. A man who was knocked down, but came back stronger. A man who wasn’t scared to speak his mind or do his own funky thing. A man who inspired millions. And most importantly a man who said “The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing.” Wise words we think you’ll agree. So, with no further ado, we’re ready to get up and do our thing! We want to get into it, man, you know? Like a wine merchant machine…

    It is often said that this is a man’s world, despite Soul Brother No 1 pointing out that “it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl.” Well Oddbins disagrees. The Palate, our search for UK’s finest amateur wine taster, has proven that when it comes to taste buds, it is very much a woman’s world. For the second year running our competition has been won by a woman (watch the video here). This year’s winner, Chloe Dickson, has chosen a devastatingly delicious wine for our shelves and we are proud to announce that it has finally arrived. The Manz Platónico is an elegant red blend from Alentejo in Portugal, and according to Chloe it is “perfect for the wintry festive period”. So as the cold now seems to have set in, in the words of JB himself, “please, please, please” make sure you don’t miss out on what we predict will soon become an Oddbins’ classic.

    We love Champagne, but why does it all have to look so plain? Mr Dynamite wouldn’t have stood for such boring labels; he’d have wanted sequins, a cape and a horn section fanfare for his fizz. And that is practically what Heidsieck have done with their Monopole Blue Top Champagne. Look at it: blue, yellow and proud. But there is more to his cheeky Pinot Noir-dominated sparkler than just spangly packaging, it is toasty, buttery, spicy and unbelievably good value at just £21 for the next few weeks. A decadent treat without the extravagant price tag. Feel free to take it to the bridge, but we’d recommend enjoying it in the comfort of your own home.

    Just like the Godfather of Soul, Balblair’s Distillery Manager, John MacDonald, demands discipline, perfection and precision from those around him. But the rewards for this level of dedication are awesome. Balblair’s 2002 Single Malt bursts out of the tumbler spraying oranges, lemons, pears, custard creams, vanilla and toffee apples every which way. But it’s the freshness of it that will have your reaching to refill that glass. And the rewards don’t stop there, not only have we knocked £3 off it, but we will also automatically enter anyone who buys a bottle into a competition to win a 16GB mini tablet, perfect for browsing Oddbins.com, searching for images of polydactyl cats or watching videos of James Brown strutting his funky stuff.
    That’s all from us, except to say that if you want to get hold of any of the bottles featured in this email, you can either pop into one of our shops or buy them at Oddbins.com and have them delivered in three working days or even quicker, if you are in a hurry, with our next day service. Toodle pip.
  • FIFTY SHADES, ED MILIBAND AND SOMETHING FIZZY

    We’ve taken our inspiration for this edition of Oddnews from the world of current affairs. So make yourself comfortable as we're about to go all Sarah Montague and John Humphrys on you...
    Before you start worrying, the Fifty Shades of Grey wines are categorically not available at Oddbins. We prefer to source our spankingly good wines from honest to goodness winemakers and keep the marketing guys suitably shackled and restrained. Take for example the brand new and bone dry Bergrettung Riesling made by Jan Klein and a group of likeminded winemakers, who are rescuing and breathing life into abandoned vineyards (hence the name which means "mountain rescue" in German and has absolutely nothing at all to do with popular "Whip Lit"). It bursts with lime, mango and peach and then slaps you with a firm hand of refreshing acidity. You can get to know more of our lovely winemakers in the inspiring and intriguing new Oddbins Winemakers section of our website located here.
    Following the Labour Party Conference the news has been full of reports of Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell’s little spat over whether Ed Miliband is red or not. We’ve always thought that bickering in the world of politics isn’t really news though, it is kind of like saying: “Breaking News: monkeys seen monkeying around.” Sorry, we digress. No such arguments about red credentials can be made about the following two heavyweight candidates from South Africa. In the red corner we have Boekenhoutskloof's Chocolate Block 2011: Oddbins’ iconic keeper that holds more chocolatey goodness and weight than Augustus Gloop. And in the other red corner we have the new kid on our block, Radford Dale’s Gravity (made by Oddbins BFF Alex Dale): a robust bruiser that dances around the palate with an uncanny elegance, maybe a result of having a few years under its belt. Not only are both indisputably red to the very core, but they are also both quite capable of keeping you warm during the winter months, if for some reason the energy companies might claim not to be able to. But we're not taking sides on that frosty debate...
    A roving BBC News journalist put her virtue on the line by accosting wannabe lotharios in a Milanese gelateria. According to her report she was able to ascertain that the economic downturn has hit Italian Casanovas hard. Shockingly, they are unable to “woo women with the care and attention – and lavish expenditure – their predecessors were one renowned for.” As we dry our eyes for all those failing philanderers, we hope you’ll join us in raising a glass of our fabulous, and very reasonably priced, Prosecco Ca’Rosa. This peach, pear and apricot infused Italian fizz is the one, a lifetime partner if you will. Salute to a more monogamous future!

    That’s all from us, time to get our weekend on, ta ra.

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