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Old 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

  • 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.

  • WE ARE ALL ARTISTS

    22 July, 2014

    We have some shocking news: we don’t really care for convention at Oddbins.
    OK, maybe you already knew that. Anyway, that’s why we’re going to be a tad random start this newsletter with a poem:
    We are all artists
    Nothing’s the same in black and white
    Use your own colours and create your own light
    Don’t doubt your colour is you
    Never change the slightest hue
    What would the sea be if it lost its blue?
    This poem sums up how we feel about wine. At its best, we feel a wine should shine through with local character – ‘regional typicity’ as wine folk say – and with the character of the winemaker. When this happens, you’ve got wine gold and we are well chuffed to have been named High Street Chain of the Year 2014 by the International Wine Challenge (IWC) for stocking wines that do just that. So saying, let us introduce you to some IWC award-winning wines that really do create their own light…
    First up is Janeil Gros Manseng/Sauvignon Blanc 2013, a zingy, floral belter from the southwest of France, which scooped Gold at the IWC 2014 awards. Although ‘Gros Manseng’ sounds less like a grape and more like an unflattering description of a singer, the producer declares this local variety loud and proud on the label and quite right too: it’s a gorgeous example of this unique grape. Or, as the less florid judges put it, ‘Fresh lemon, apple, pear and grass. Zesty with balancing fruit richness. Great drinking.’
    Speaking of staying true to yourself, we’ve got some advice for Newsnight’s new anchor, Evan Davies: don’t try to be Paxo, yo. More news puppy than news hound, Evan is a nice bloke and it’s going to plain weird if he starts spluttering and yelling at interviewees that they still haven’t answered the question. Instead, we think Evan should follow the example of Luís Lourenço, the maker of Quinta dos Roques, and bring his own style to proceedings. Made from the classic Dão varieties Touriga Naçional, Jaen, Alfrocheiro, as well as Tempranillo, this is a proud example of the chunky, soulful reds that Dão does so well. Plus, the 2011 has just won Gold at the IWC 2014 and is the IWC’s Portuguese Red Wine Trophy Winner. It is for wines like this that we have, *dusts off black tie awards dinner outfit*, also won the IWC Specialist Merchant of the Year Award for Portugal. Yieah, boi!
    And lastly to a wine, a man and a city that all have splendidly strong, idiosyncratic personalities. We are speaking, respectively, of Viña Leyda ‘Falaris’ Chardonnay, Joe Wadsack and Glasgow. Viña Leyda were the pioneers of winemaking in Chile’s now desirable, cool-climate Leyda Valley, which was named after them in 1997. The cooler climate means they can make more nuanced wines such as this Chardonnay, which has a captivating mineral streak running through the ripe melon and guava fruit, and which won Bronze at the IWC 2014. This was one of the wines that former RAF pilot-turned-wine writer and educator, Joe, put on tasting at The Palate Semi Final Boot Camp in Glasgow last weekend and wowed the contestants. A spectacularly energetic, crazy man, showing a pioneering wine, in a bustling, fiercely proud city: a triumphant triad of ‘regional typicity’ and unabashed personality, we think you'll agree.
    Ciao for now.
  • THE FUTURE

    4 July, 2014

    Want to be happy? Get more sauerkraut and Bavarian beer in your life. Yup, the Germans have cast off their ‘joyless image’ according to a recent report by the German Economic Institute, which says they are some of the happiest people in Europe. But who thought the Germans were miserable? With their enthusiastic politeness and practical clothing, you couldn’t find a more optimistic bunch. They live in a country of fairy-tale beauty, they have Michael Fassbender off of X-Men and they have many, many sausages. Of course the Germans are happy! However, it’s not just their national character that is often misunderstood. Their wine is too – but for good reason. They have, hitherto, had a predilection for sweet wines with ornate, baroque-esque labels and indecipherable names that take about a year to pronounce, such as ‘Trockenbeerenauslese Graacher Himmelreich’. However, all that is changing… Willkommen in der zukunft [1].

    Our first German is not a red wine; it’s not a white wine; and it’s not a rosé wine. What it is is Dr Koehler Blanc de Noir 2013 and it is very, very exciting. It is a white wine made from red grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) and, as such, is bigger on the palate than your average white. It has incredibly fragrant raspberry and rose flavours that are about as surprising, we imagine, as being a Prime Minister let down by a German Chancellor who had suggested she would back him in his quest to block the election of an EU President. But a much nicer surprise, clearly. Anyway, where were we? Ah yes. So, the only other time you’ll see white wine made out of red grapes is in Champagne, where Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are used to make more full-bodied, richer styles of bubbly. So, essentially, this is pretty far out for the usually traditional Germany. At £12.50, it should have you reaching for your Geld[2] sharpish.

    In the above poster, we tied our vinous colours to the mast. We also annoyed a few England fans, but most people read the disclaimer and saw that we're not actually supporting our football arch rivals... Anyway, we don’t mean to annoy anyone. We’re here to serve up joy! And our next wine does just that. Its name is Villa Wolf Pinot Noir 2012 (£12) and, if you haven’t tried much German red wine, we recommend you begin your journey here. The Germans usually call Pinot Noir ‘Spätburgunder’ but have dropped it this time in favour of the more recognisable Pinot Noir, which reflects the fresh, vibrant, modern style of this wine. In musical terms, they are waving auf wiedersehen to Beethoven and saying hallo to Kraftwerk[3]. Headed up by the dynamic Dr. Loosen, Villa Wolf is a forward-thinking, exciting winery and this spicy cherry Pinot is a cracking example of their Kraft.

    To end our Deutsch wein special, we toss glitter in the air, put on a Marlene Dietrich record and pour ourselves a glass of the über rare Solter Brut Rheingau Riesling Sekt (£18). It’s rare for three reasons: 1) Unusually for Sekt (German sparkling wine), it is made in the same way as Champagne, which is patently a good thing. 2) Whereas most Sekt uses grapes from outside Germany, this Sekt only uses grapes from Rheingau, in southwest Germany, which gives it regional character and higher quality. The resulting wine is of an impeccable standard and this Rheingau Sekt has very fine aromas of peaches and honey, with smooth acidity and soft, come-hither bubbles. 3) It is the only wine in this email that hasn’t been made by a doctor (no easy feat in a country that produces 25,000 doctorates a year and where even the Chancellor has a PhD in physical chemistry). But if the other two wines are the zany academics, this is the talented musician with a twinkle in its eye. In short, it’s your own Marlene Dietrich.

    Tschühüüs.

    ____________________________________________________

    1. Willkommen in der zukunft = welcome to the future
    2. Geld = money
    3. Kraftwerk = nutty electronic music pioneers
  • 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!

  • BOTTLE POETRY

    Robert Louis Stevenson famously observed that “wine is bottled poetry”. Inspired by this thinking, for this week’s Oddnews we are adopting a little poetic off-licence…
    This year, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has described cuts in art funding as being “totally barbaric” and has warned that we could end up with a “country full of Tescos and not theatres.” Now there isn’t much a wine merchant like Oddbins can do to help the arts, but there is one inspiring thing we have in abundance: WINE. So we popped a couple of corks for a group of North London poets, who then penned a few odes to wine (which were luckily shorter and less raunchy than Pablo Neruda’s Ode to Wine). The results can be seen on the posters hanging in our windows or you can read them in our new blog post. Don’t worry if poetry isn’t your thing, we aren’t going to start talking in rhyming couplets or five beat rhythms (iambic pentameters – yes, we’ve done our research), but you might see the odd limerick, song lyric or verse popping up in our shops. However, if poetry is your thing and you feel inspired to put pen to paper, then pop them in the comments section of our blog, or if they are short tweet us using the hashtag #bottledpoetry. We don’t care how quick, childish or foolish, we think lurking inside you is a poet, even if you don’t realise (or should that be "know it"?).
    That’s a haiku, that is. A haiku is a short Japanese poem of 17 syllables in three phases of 5, 7 and 5 (the one above doesn’t quite fit that structure as we think it's been translated). To illustrate the technique, we've written the following little whisky-inspired haiku…


    Drink Monkey Shoulder
    Johnnie Walker Odyssey
    And Bowmore Darkest

    It’s not so hard, this poetry stuff. Alright, we’re not going to win any awards for that one, but it's an educational little segue into announcing that, amongst others, we currently have the cheeky Monkey Shoulder (was £29.75, now £27.25) whisky and raisiny Bowmore Darkest 15 Year Old (was £56.75, now £51.75) on special offer. The observant amongst you may also have noticed that sandwiched within our haiku was the brand new, "super-premium", limited edition and mind numbingly astonishing Johnnie Walker Odyssey (£729). Only 60 bottles of this whisky have been released on these shores and we have secured a couple. So if you are a whisky collector, a malt connoisseur or you were just really inspired by our awful haiku, grab one now before they disappear as quickly as our haiku writing skills.

    Judging by a sideways glance through our wine-stained windows, it seems that the hot weather may be petering out. But fear not, because you can take summer with you wherever you go with a bottle of our new Marieta Albariño (£8.50). It's packed with the juicy fruit of summer - peach, lemon, melon and apple - and a pinch of sweetness that makes it the perfect partner to Asian food or a last ditch picnic. The only thing that we found that comes close to being as refreshing as the finish on this wine, is taking of all your clothes when you are devilishly hot.That’s all from us, now what in the blazes rhymes with Gewurztraminer?

  • GET FRUITY

    Just in case you hadn’t noticed, there has been an important arrival recently. We’re not jumping on the Royal Baby bandwagon; we’ll leave that topic to the press who, judging by all their cooing and meaningless speculation, could just have easily been replaced with a flock of pigeons playing “Guess Who?” this week. No, we’re talking about the rebirth of Oddbins.com, soon to be the new king of wine websites. We put an easel outside Oddbins Towers to mark the announcement, but it didn’t quite the reaction of the one outside Buckingham Palace. So we are going to tell you all about it in this edition of Oddnews instead. But enough with baby talk, inspired by the Andy Murray quote used in our last email, in which he announced his hatred of bananas, we are going to ask you to explore your fruity side…
    We cannot condone Barbra Streisand’s wanton fruit wastage, however successful she may be. Surely she must realise that it doesn’t just grow on trees. To teach her the error of her ways we followed her and gathered up the trail of fruit left in her wake. We found not only melons, but also lemons, passionfruits, green apples, gooseberries, lychees and more. The plan was to make a delicious drink combining all these fruits that would change her profligate ways, but then we realised that the smoothie market is pretty much saturated. So instead we found a summery fruit bomb of a wine that already had all these flavours: The Ned Sauvignon Blanc. And to celebrate the launch of our new website, we are running a web exclusive price of £6.66 a bottle on this Kiwi legend. What do think of them apples Barbra?
    In the Chairman Mao quote above, he was addressing revolution and the fact that to understand or change something, you must jump in and experience that thing for yourself. Here at Oddbins we have kick started a revolution in the wine industry and are giving you the chance to jump in and be our wine buyer...Let us take you on a journey… imagine you are sitting on the banks of the Yangtze in Chairman Mao’s home province of Hunan, tucking into the big man’s favourite dish of Hong Shao Rou (red braised pork), surrounded by the towering mist covered Wuling, Xuefeng and Nanling Mountains. On your return home you decide to recreate that delicious holiday dish, but cannot find Shaoxing rice wine, one of the main ingredients, anywhere (please ignore the fact that Shaoxing rice wine is readily available in most Chinese supermarkets, this is a metaphorical journey). If you haven’t brought some of the wine back with you from your holiday, you might well be scuppered. But not anymore...

    Last month our E-Commerce Manager Olivia returned from her holiday in Rio de Janeiro raving about a Brazilian wine she had tried there. We got hold of a bottle of the Aurora Sparkling Moscato, tried it and promptly had an epiphany. Not only is this fruity, honeyed and floral fizz the greatest summer picnic wine ever, but it also made us ask ourselves "how can we get hold of the wines that you guys have fallen in love with on holiday?". So that is what we are doing. If you’ve fallen in love with a wine you tasted on your travels or you are about to head off on holiday, all you have to do is send us a photo of the wine, tell us the name and we will hunt it down. If we like it, we’ll import it, sell it through our website and give you a cut of the profits for finding it. We're calling it The Listing and you can find out more by clicking here. We’re very excited about this and can’t wait to hear from you. We think Chairman Mao might have considered The Listing a great leap forward for the wine industry!

    This is not the first time we have featured a quote from the sockless genius who declined the offer to be the President of Israel, and the more citations we find from him, the more we become convinced that he may have been a bit of a fruit loop. “Why?” you ask, “Surely his four steps to happiness checklist seems completely reasonable?” Nope, he missed one very important factor. The fifth step on the route to happiness is a full wine rack. Imagine how Albert's happiness would’ve shattered across the laboratory floor as soon as he took a rest from scratching out his beloved Mozart and realised there was no wine to quench his thirst. Quite. So to make sure that your happiness is not impeded by an empty wine rack and to mark the launch of our new website, we’ve put together a very special 12 bottle case of our 6 favourite fruity wines of the moment: Oddbins Web Launch Case. It not only includes the world’s first ever semi-sweet Albariño, a Bramley apple flavoured Prosecco, a Claret from one of France’s most cult winemakers (an Englishman no less) and an underrated gem from Périgord, but we’ve also knocked more than £35 off it. There has never been a better or fruitier way to fill your wine rack. Now all you need is a table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin…That’s all from us, but just before we go, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out our new blog post all about fruity summer whiskies: For Peat’s Sake. It’s pretty juicy stuff.

  • DAD'S THE WORD

    Just in case you’ve forgotten, Sunday is Father’s Day. Unfortunately the big day is now a bit too close for us to get online orders there in time, although to be honest most Dads are probably so used to waiting around for their kids, that if a present arrives a couple of days late, he might not even notice. The good news though is that there is still time to get yourself to one of our shops. So in this edition of Oddnews we’re offering up some sound fatherly advice for anyone looking for a little late inspiration…

    If your Dad is a bit of a red wine-loving maddo, try him on La Folle Noire d’Ambat (a bargain at £10). “La Folle Noire” means “the crazy black”. We have no idea what “Ambat” means. Wikipedia suggests it is a mythical hero from Malekula Island, Vanuatu. But this wine is from just north of Toulouse in the South of France, so we’re not quite sure that can be right. You can’t always trust the internet though. The producer, Domaine Le Roc’s, website says about this wine: “Cette cuvée appelle à grignoter, à saucissonner et soutient remarquablement la conversation.” If you put that into Google Translate it suggests nibbling on something quite unexpected, which would definitely provoke the remarkable conversation that it also says it is a good match for. But enough of that. Made from 100% Négrette (a descendent of an ancient Cypriot grape variety) this meaty and manly red has received high praise from critic Jamie Goode, who gave it 92 out of 100 and declared “I just love this wine.” Recently described by another wine writer, Andrew Campbell, as “simply bizarre”, this eccentric little red is quite the adventure…

    If you were thinking of buying Pops a bottle of whisky this year, don’t just buy him the usual, explore his adventurous side and plump for something a little out of the ordinary. We’ve fallen in love with the picturesque Balblair distillery. Opened in 1790, it is the oldest distillery in the highlands (making it even older than wild west legend Buffalo Bill). Rather than producing whiskies with fixed aged statements (e.g. 12 year old, 15 year old, 18 years old, etc), they bottle only the casks that have reached perfection each year, creating wonderful vintage malts that capture a snapshot in time. It is also an incredibly friendly place; on a recent visit, we loved that Distillery Manager John MacDonald greeted the postman by name (we have to admit that we don’t know our postie’s name, but have decided that we will find out next time he comes round). When you make a whisky, the first step is to make a beer, which is called the wash. At Balblair the smell of the wash is like that of a delicious fruity weissbier. This beer is then distilled producing a new-make spirit, which is then aged in oak barrels. We have never tasted a richer, fruitier or more delicious new-make spirit than Balblair’s. The fruitiness carries all the way through their whisky making process, and when you uncork a bottle of Balblair 2001 (currently on offer at £38), it erupts with apples, lemons, oranges, pears, pineapples, custard cream biscuits and vanilla. Smooth, but remarkably fresh, this whisky is the perfect way to unwind after an adventure, buffalo-related or otherwise. We’re now wondering what Buffalo Bill’s daughters would have answered to the following question…
    McCain really posed one of the 20th Century’s toughest conundrums with this one. Although the little girl in the advert was pretty confident that she’d solved it, we think we have a better idea… why not have both? Forget taking the old man out for an expensive meal or having to labour over a hot stove, simply grab a bottle of Canard-Duchêne Authentic Brut  (currently on offer at £20) and head to the chippy. Champagne with fish and chips is one of life’s decadent little pleasures. If you haven’t tried it, or more importantly, if your Dad hasn’t tried it, treat him this Sunday. The full but fresh style of the multi award winning Canard-Duchêne (IWSC Silver, Decanter Bronze and IWC Bronze) makes it the perfect choice. Daddy or chips? Both please and a side portion of Daddy’s Sauce and maybe some mushy peas.

    That’s all from us, but while we are talking of mushiness, we’ll leave you with a clichéd, but nonetheless factually accurate, quote from tennis star Maria Sharapova…

    “Without my Dad, I wouldn’t be here.”

  • EXPLORING SPACE AND WINE

    Inspired by the news this week of Britain’s first official astronaut (although we're not sure what Helen Sharman thinks about this title), for this edition of Oddnews we’ve recruited some spacemen and spacewomen to aid our continuing exploration…

    Major Tim Peake filled in an online application form and soon he’ll be jetting off into space. Well, we have a story almost as crazy…

    Come and take part in a free wine tasting at Oddbins and you could end up jetting off for a 10 day luxury wine holiday for two to Australia and New Zealand, winning wine, attending a wine tasting boot camp and even choosing your own wine for Oddbins' shelves. It can only mean one thing… The Palate 2013, Oddbins’ search for the finest amateur wine taster, is back. To find out more watch our new video here. The first round will take place in all our shops on the weekends of 1-2 and 8-9 June. Wine tasting is fun, easy and anyone can do it. The Palate 2013 could be yours, all you have to do is reach for it.

    We’re pretty jealous of astronauts. How cool would it be to control the robotic arm of a spaceship? Another person that we’re pretty jealous of is Robert Oatley. He pioneered Australian wines around the world turning Rosemount Estate into one of Australia’s most famous wineries, he’s won countless yacht races and been honoured by the Queen for his contribution to the British Empire. He also owns the paradise of Hamilton Island, which the winner of The Palate 2013 will be lucky enough to visit. Just look at the pictures and you’ll want to enter the competition immediately. And as if that wasn’t enough Bob also makes an incredible range of wines. Plucking the best grapes from his vineyards dotted around Australia to make a stunning Shiraz from southern McLaren Vale, a perfect Pinot Noir from Mornington Peninsula and a charming Chardonnay from Margaret River. These bold, balanced and beautiful wines embody everything we love about Australian winemaking. When Oddbins eventually gets its own spaceship, we’re going to invite Robert Oatley to control the robotic arm and bring some wine for the journey.

    We would have thought that drinking before space travel would’ve been illegal, but who are we to argue with NASA and Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman to venture into space. What do you think astronauts have for Dutch courage before blast off? If Major Tim needs a suggestion, we’d recommend a classic Campbeltown single malt. With Springbank’s signature complexity, you could spend five months in space with just one bottle and never get bored of it. So many aromas and flavours, each dram is an adventure. For those not familiar with our website, each of our spirits has an alter ego. We currently have the Superman Springbank 10 year old, the Hugh Laurie Springbank 18 year old and the Bob Flowerdew Springbank 12 year old Calvados Wood. If you were looking for a companion to take into space, we imagine Superman would probably get a bit restless being stuck in a spaceship on a long journey, he’s been there and done that. There are no gardens in space and Bob Flowerdew’s ponytail would cause havoc in zero gravity. So taking into account Major Tim’s musical tendencies, we’d plump for the Hugh Laurie Springbank 18 year old. [Disclaimer: Oddbins does not condone drinking whisky before piloting a spacecraft]

    That’s all from us, until next time keep exploring, because as Frank Borman, the first man to fly around the moon, said…

    “Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.”

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