My Basket - 0 item

Wines Of The Week

  • Orang-Utangover!

    The bar has reached a Friday evening peak. Everybody is loud and excitable, Prosecco is flowing and there is love and laughter everywhere. The Headache Fairy will be busy tomorrow, but for now...

    "...So, then I said, right, I said 'And anyway, darlin, that's not a banana you're peeling!'" Mass guffaws. HAHAHAHA HA HA HA ha...ha...haaa...and fade to black. And silence.

    Crazy-Banner

    A chimpanzee is lying beneath a tree. Well, perhaps "beneath" dignifies the picture somewhat. "Underneath" might be better. And the tree is horizontal. On the floor surrounding the chimp are a number of festive baubles, and on a nearby sofa is a crumpled heap of clothes and blankets. Looping on his television screen is a video of a chimp invasion of a wine store. After a BLT he will realise how much fun last night's Christmas party was, but right now he is sulking about a lost battle with a tree.

    "Oi, Snazzy", he says to the sofa. The crumpled heap moves a little to show the head of another chimpanzee, this one topped off with an angel. "How did we get here?"

    "I think we started off with a couple of aperitifs, Crazy, Laurent-Perrier Non-Vintage, £27 a pop. Christmas has come early at that price..."

    LP

    "No, here!" I was a tree climbing aristocracy not so long ago, now I'm pinned to the floor by a Norwegian Spruce wondering how I'm going to get to work. I should be sitting in the sunshine picking fleas off my girlfriend, not working in a wine shop in Clapham!"

    "Well for a start, I warned you against putting your Christmas tree up after a night on the Brasso. You should have savoured some Bourgogne Blanc Girardin with me - elegant, pleasantly aromatic, and appealingly fruity. The wine's not bad either, boom boom!"

    Bourgogne

    "And as for your job, well, think about it. People want a shop with character, and they want the best of everything. The confused man with ten quid who'd never been in the place before - you gave him Coteaux du Pont du Gard - fruit, structure, intensity and complexity. And a rather saucy joke. Think how some small part of his life may have been changed by a wine of such quality. He might have had a Road to Damascus moment with a country wine from Avignon."

    Pont-du-Gard

    "...and the lady wanting a change from boring, boring Pinot Grigio? Domaine de Coudoulet Viognier - a lovely flowery nose and tropical fruit on the palate, balanced with a dash of citrus. She didn't think wine shopping could be such fun, and now she's looking at the more generic offerings with something approaching pity. You see, we send out little ripples of love and affirmation with every bottle, and though you can't see them, they cross your path with every step you take from the shop to Clapham Junction station. Every cosy looking, lamp lit window may have a Coudoulet Viognier behind it. If only you knew!"

    Snazzy-Banner

    "Cor blimey, Snazzy, you don't half talk some cobblers. And there's nothing elegant or pleasantly aromatic about you while you're piled up on my settee! Now get yourself out and get us a banana, lettuce and tomato, while I sort some coffee out."

    As the front door closes, Crazy Chimp's mind drifts to Snazzy's comments. To the tables he may have enriched in some way, to the laughter he's brought to unsuspecting shoppers, to the enrichment of his own mind and so many others with knowledge of the seemingly obscure or opaque. Clapham has become a beautiful place, and Christmas is his, for him to give to the world!

    Well, that's if he can get from under this tree now Snazzy's gone out...

  • The Long Arms of The Law

    Hilarious Chimp is listening to records. At the moment it is the turn of Pithecanthropus Erectus by Charles Mingus, a long-standing family favourite. The music is terrifically exciting, with five men seeming to make the noise of eleven, and Hilarious is playing it at an appreciable volume while whirling around the room on a unicycle and whooping and a-hollering with the band! Unfortunately, his neighbours are rather less appreciative. They've seen the video Hilarious made recently with all of his other Oddbins cohorts, and they didn't find quite the same joy in its assorted muckslinging or the Mingus-maybe melodies that have sent the chimp back to his record collection. And now this racket! Tired of his primate pranks, they have summoned the long arm of the law...

    Hilarious-Banner

    In the conference room of a swish hotel, Sassy Chimp is delivering a seminar entitled 'Writing On The Wall: When To Flog Your Business, and Where You Won't Be Found'. It consists, in large part, of the murky tales surrounding his sale of 'Monkey Vegas', a huge empire founded on teaching circus skills and party tricks to primates. By what he described as an 'uncanny coincidence', Sassy sold the business at an eye-watering profit exactly one month before animal acts were banned from circuses. "I didn't so much avoid the country after that, it was more a case of simply being somewhere else...". He has come back to help his friends and family with the cheerful invasion of Oddbins, whence he has graced his event with ample supplies of Terra Noble Reserva Terroir Syrah, a deep and deliciously savoury red from the Maule Valley in Chile, together with a Chardonnay from the same winery, a warmly approachable white that partners delightfully with the hors d'oeuvres he's provided. While he's pointing to a Venn diagram on a Bo-Nobo board, he is discreetly called out of the room and taken into a police station.

    Terra-Noble-Syrah

    Terra-Noble-Chardonnay

    "...and he says you're the only person he knows who can pay for his bail. Well, you and..." consulting a notebook, "...Billy Expletive Smart. Funny bloke considering he doesn't even crack a smile!"

    "Funny?"

    "Yeah. He's cracked everybody up round here, playing table tennis with the boys. 10p, 50p, whatever, absolutely thrashed all of them. Funny thing was, he was riding a unicycle throughout. Even when we brought him in he pedalled out to the panda. Then he made the handcuffs disappear and we found them in the glove box."

    "How much is his bail exactly?"

    Sassy-Banner

    "Well, he's clearly a chimp of good character. In fact, we considered dropping all charges when we told him we don't usually have much to do with hominoids, and he said that's because you can get cream for them nowadays. If we can find a caring home for him we'll forget the whole thing - you seem to have done better than he has out of circus regulations, maybe you owe it to him to see he doesn't spend another Christmas in the park? Meanwhile, we'll set him up in Oddbins and the staff will take him under their loving wing! Now,  back in the car and you can pick up your records while we bring your neighbours in for crime against hilarity. A couple of days in the cooler listening to Kenny G should teach them what side their bread's buttered!"

    In the back of the car, Hilarious and Sassy are making up. "So, Hilarious, 50p a game, you say? I'm sure I could fix you up with plenty more games, and at a pound a pop! How about we seal the deal with a bottle of this Tarlant Champagne..."

    Tarlant

  • Join the Revolution

    A young man waits outside a Council depot at 6.00 a.m. on a Friday morning in January. He is selling copies of a newspaper to newly-paid Council staff. Politically, the young man is standing in the middle of an exciting moment. Personally, he is standing in the middle of the street. He is bloody freezing. Is there not a more elegant way to turn things upside down, he asks himself...

    Well, yes, he could come to Oddbins. We built our reputation by rising against the status quo of the wine trade and empowering the vinous sans culottes, the rarities, scarcities and curiosities. And we won! And now we're going to do it again, with a new range of remarkable wines from countries whose presence on the UK's shelves is unassuming, to say the least. We're giving them the opportunity to rise as one, to be counted and to shout "Freedom for Dealu Mare!"

    And Dealu Mare is where we go first, on the Southern foothills of the Carpathian curve in Romania. Budureasca's "Vine in Flames," a scrumptious white made from the Feteasca Regala grape, has a honeyed texture which very pleasingly threatens to turn sweet, but chooses instead to focus on delivering soft flavours of quince. The wine's name refers to a threat of invasion 2,000 years ago, when the region's vineyards were set ablaze to make the place look less appealing.

    Q3a_home_banner_revolution_wine_SMALL

    1981. Two Liverpudlian teenagers have hitch-hiked to Leeds to march to a concert which will unseat the Government, and they are now listening to a cultish post-punk band playing drunkenly on the back of a wobbly flatbed truck. Anarchy! In less than a decade, the Prime Minister will have resigned.

    Even more exotic than Leeds, Greece's Gaia Estate winery sits on hills around Nemea in the Peloponnese, and for twenty years it has diligently spread the word about Greece's native grape varieties. Notios Red, a blend of Agiorgitiko and Syrah, tastes of red berries and velvet and would be an ideal partner to lamb kleftiko.

    1968. The Beatles' White Album contains an eight-minute sound collage called "Revolution Nine." Millions of people listen to the most widely-circulated example of avant garde extremism ever, while they perfect the skill of skipping tracks on a vinyl album.

    And last, but by no means least, we go to Hungary, the most underlying underdog of all, known mainly over here for the sweet wines of Tokaj. Titi Egri Bikaver is a bold red with cherry aromas and flavours of paprika and eastern spices, and a weighty palate luscious beyond imagination. "Egri Bikaver" translates as "Bull's Blood of Eger," which may bring readers of a certain age out in a rash, but rest assured that this is one classy bull!

    Take this, brother, may it serve you well...

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • INNOVATION, MADNESS AND BEER

    Experimentation. It takes you to places that ordinarily you wouldn't go to. It reveals new perspectives and possibilities. It requires leaps of faith and a devil-may-care attitude towards tradition. And where does all this get you? Well, in some instances, not very far. The Automatic Smoking Machine, invented by the Victorians to recreate that special odour of a busy bar at home, was arguably not a leap of faith worth making. But in other instances, it can lead to innovations that markedly improve on life as we know it. It is with this in mind that we explore three innovative products and salute the experimental spirit and all its attendant insanity.
    Firstly, we turn to an innovation from Oxford. We're not referring to Penicillin (invented at Oxford University in 1939), but to Oddbins No.2 (£2.65), our new collaborative beer with Compass Brewery. Whether or not history judges it to be as important as Penicillin, only time will tell. But we can guarantee that it tastes better than mould in a Petri dish. No, wait! We’re under-selling here. Let us start again: it’s a malt-based ale, in the German ‘Kölsch’ style brewed, unusually, with a portion of smoked malt, bringing a gentle smoky complexity to the mix. The upshot is a bright gold beer with gentle aromas of citrus and hay. It has a very approachable palate, with yeasty, bready notes, a lovely earthiness and a gentle whiff of smoke. Following the dizzy excitement of this discovery, we spun around in our lab coats to cast our eyes over our Beer Buying department. What have we done? We’re offering you the chance to help us choose beers to list. So if you have a love of beer and want to be paid in beer, to taste beer, then please apply on Twitter, using #OddbinsBeer. It might just be the best job in the world.
    For the second innovation, *offers up hands to be cuffed by police*, we have to commit a crime. A crime against tradition that is! (We’re here all day, folks). Yes we are going against hundreds of years of history and are now stocking – wait for it – a sparkling wine in a screw cap! No doubt to the despair of half of France, we now stock the beautiful, fresh-as-a-daisy Willowglen Brut NV (£10) from South East Australia. Sealed with a screw cap, the Italian-Australian makers just didn’t feel the need to have a cork. Screw caps are easier and generally less fuss. And Australians don’t do fuss. Anyway, after you’ve twisted the top off you’ll love discover a blissful blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (a French tradition that they have kept), with pure, clean apple-y flavours served up on a lightly creamy palate.
    Lastly we turn to an existing innovation that produces a drink so ephemeral and delicate that you could reasonably assume it was made by a fairy at the bottom of the garden. We speak of Tio Pepe Fino En Rama (£16), which is a dry, unrefined Sherry taken from the middle of a wooden cask during spring, when the protective blanket of ‘flor’ is at its thickest. Flor - the naturally occurring crust that forms on Sherry whilst it’s ageing in the Solera casks – is what gives dry Sherry its iodine-like, salty twang. With En Rama Sherry, those flavours are more pronounced and have a limited shelf-life so, to taste it at its best, it should be consumed (assuming the sun’s past the yardarm as you read this) right about… now.Toodles.
  • THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, A RIGHT ROYAL CARRY ON AND THE (CORNISH) MINORITY REPORT

    The world is scary and, quite frankly, the news does nothing to help. They could give us more heart-warming stories about kittens but, oh no, they have to tell us about Eastern European conflict that’s threatening to destabilise the entire continent. It’s like Orson Welles famous The War of the Worlds radio broadcast from the 30's all over again – except that whilst the US public was huddled under the kitchen table with the misguided assumption that aliens had landed, we’re huddled under the table in justified fear. So, we say, shun the news-stand, turn off the radio and telly and enjoy an alternative take on the news from yours truly, via the medium of delicious wine and whisky. So much better than actual news.
    Whilst Kate and Wills proudly parade young George around Australia and the press coo at his every hiccup and marvel at the wisdom of Kate’s choice of dress, we have a slightly different bundle of joy for you. It is not teething and its surname isn’t Windsor, but it sure is cute: it’s Oddbins’ Spring Breeze Mixed Case. It’s a selection of bright ‘n’ breezy wines for the bargainous price of £50, including the eternally popular, pear-scented Prosecco Ca’Rosa (£10), so you can raise a glass to George (and his dragon-bothering namesake, if you didn’t do so on Wednesday).
    Speaking of national pride, we now turn our beady eye to Cornwall, with the news that, as the BBC put it, ‘Cornwall is not England’. Yes, the region has won its battle for minority status, in recognition that there’s more to Cornwall than pasties and the grumpy yet affable Doc Martin. Great news for Cornwall. But, though we love them and they have the best regional flag ever, we are going to disagree with Tori here. We think we've spotted one down-side; Ireland, Wales and most definitely Scotland all produce famous whisky, so if they’re joining the gang in their official minority status, we reckon this is a ‘could do better’ area. Scotland has new malts coming out of ears, such as Flaughter, from anCnoc (the C’s silent, the flavours aren’t). anCnoc usually offer a more gentle, honeyed Highland style, but Flaughter (£55) is a new arrival that combines come-hither vanilla and toffee flavours with smoky, manfully peaty notes. Take heed Cornwall!
    Now. If we offered you six years’ pay for only 10 months’ work, you’d take it, right? Well unlike Manchester United’s remarkably well-remunerated former manager, David Moyes, you’re not quite so lucky. But – ta da – we have an alternative offer to ease your bitter disappointment. How about the chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to the terrifically trendy (people still say terrific, don’t they?) Meltdown festival this summer for simply subscribing to this newsletter (i.e. for doing nought).  Not bad eh? The winners will be announced in the next email, so stay tuned.

    Anyhoo. If we’ve managed to coax you from under the kitchen table in the tentative hope that the apocalypse isn’t nigh, then why not celebrate with a glass of the luscious, star anise, cinnamon and blackberry-flavoured antidote to unpleasant news that is Domaine de l’Arnesque’s Côtes du Rhône ‘Fleur de Garrigues’ (£9.25). And… relax. Just stay away from the radio.

    ‘Til next time.

  • HOMAGE TO CALEDONIA

    What with the confused Saharan dust cloud on England’s south coast and the fantasy drama-cum-daily routine destroyer Game of Thrones, we’ve been reticent to leave the house of late. But we have stepped bravely away from the TV, blinking and pasty in the sunlight and our attention has turned, to steal GoT imagery, both north, beyond The Wall (i.e. Scotland), and overseas to the south (i.e. Spain). We’re referring to the referendums planned in Scotland and prevented from happening in Catalonia. Veering clear of fence-sitting, we reckon we’ve got it right for once here in Blighty: let the people speak! Credit Catalonians with the intelligence to decide for themselves! But anyway, we should probably stick to what we know, so saying, here’s a look at some of the best that Caledonia and Catalonia have to offer by way of whisky and wine…
    Manic-eyed Catalonian Salvador Dalí is a man we can empathise with. Not that we’re mad keen surrealists (though we have been known to don the odd diving suit to tastings). But we love our job and get real satisfaction from sharing joys like Anna de Codorníu Brut Nature Cava NVwith you lovely people. 500 years old and still going strong, Codorníu is a family business with history, being the first Spaniards to use Champagne’s ‘traditional’ method of production. The Anna Brut Nature NV is an elegant, crisp Champagne-alike that is more than worth the £10.50 price tag.
    Representing Scotland? Cragganmore 12 Year Old (£35), which is every bit as mellow, smooth and charming as its Alter Ego Kirsty Young. Quintessentially Speyside in character, it has flavours of freshly cut wild flowers and herbs and was described by the late whisky critic Michael Jackson as having ‘the most complex nose of any malt whisky’. Not ‘alf bad. The perfect companion for watching Question Time and shouting at the panellists. Just make sure that Cragg-y host David Dimbleby keeps his mitts off. Anyway, having possibly upset half of Spain with our dalliance with Catalonian politics, we’ll remind ourselves of something Yoko Ono once said…

    Ms Ono, it just so happens, is a past curator of London’s Meltdown Festival – tickets for which you may win by dint of subscribing to these emails. Exciting stuff. But that’s in June and, in the meantime, there’s Easter to look forward to (we accept your praise for not banging on about Easter for the entirety of this email…) Apart from the classic lamb and Rioja option (for which we’d recommend Bodegas Luis Alegre’s delicious Koden Rioja 2011, £9.75), there’s always rosé, for people who laugh in the face of convention and match their wines to their whims. The newly-arrived 2013 vintage of Clos Bellane 'Altitude' Côtes du Rhône Rosé is a springtime beauty to set your heart a-flutter with its poetic elegance and Provenҫal-esque panache.

    ‘Til next time.

  • KATE BUSH, THE QUEEN AND OTHER CLEVER BIRDS

    It’s spring: Mother Nature is returning to her most creative phase, producing daffies, lambs and chocolate (or do Green & Black’s make chocolate?); Croydon’s finest, Kate Bush, is returning to the stage like the sun to Narnia after a 30 year hiatus; and The International ‘Bloomin’ Eck is Mothers’ Day This Sunday?*’ Day is upon us. Yes, really! So read on and find out what the people who understand Mums best (that’s us, not Loose Women) recommend for these Givers of Life…
    This is the refrain, sung over and over again by Kate Bush in a song about her son Bertie and is not, we’ll sacrilegiously offer, one of her finest moments. Very often, something happens to women when they have children that interferes with self-censorship, leading to very vocal enthusiasm for their offspring. So say thanks to your Mum for probably embarrassing herself for at least five years, enthusing about YOU – yes you! – with a beautiful, rarefied Champagne. Henriot Rosé NV (£46) was recently described by The Times’ Jane MacQuitty as having a ‘bright, lemony scent and [a] long, creamy, spicy finish’. It’s also in limited supply, so fill your boots quickly. Anyway, if you are a Mum, particularly with a child around seven years old, you may want to cover your eyes now because…
    Yup, according to boffins, the reasoning faculties of young humanoids matches that of ‘Caledonian crows’ (that doesn’t just mean ‘crows in Scotland’). But (dignity slightly wounded) we invite you to join us in pretending not to have heard that. Instead, let’s remind ourselves how classy, beautiful and intelligent we are… So classy, that we drink delicious things like Crôzes-Hermitage ‘La Tuilière’ and say highly witty things like “you could say it’s a Crows-Hermitage”. Though, what everyone doesn’t know, is that this brilliant, gently spiced classic is currently down to £12.50 from £14.50. We can celebrate our classiness by attending the highly cultural events like the Meltdown Festival though, if you happen to win the tickets, we won’t mention you got them free simply by subscribing to Odd News… Which leads us ever-so elegantly on to the ‘Royal We’…
    The Queen is a Mum who, it’s fair to say, has put up with a lot. The above quotes from her ever loyal, gaffe-prone other half, were the most quotable of the book – we repeat, book – written about his Royal bloopers. Well, every family has one and, if your ‘Prince Phillip’ happens to be visiting this Easter, you can get a wine that's smooth, even if they aren't… Latria Montsant is a cracking alternative to Rioja with lamb (more food matches from Oddbins’ Buyer Ana in Fine Foodies Magazine (page 33), and is one of the most unctuous, silky, juicy wines around. And – shhhh – it’s only £9.50. Mum’s the word.Toodles.

  • THE RHÔNE, NEIL YOUNG AND FREE MELTDOWN TICKETS

    To quote Otis Redding, we are going down in the valley, down in the valley so low. Down in the Rhône Valley to be precise. This week we are mining the soulful depths of this expansive southern French appellation with assertive, modern wines that showcase the jaw-dropping value to be found with just a lil digging. We’ve Châteauneuf-du-Pape-alikes for under a tenner, ethereally delicate Provencal rosés (we don’t need much prompting to bust out the rosé and sandals here at Oddbins) and all-round, supermarket-smashing wines that will make you want to go down, down, down in the valley, so low. Oh, and if you go low enough, you might just discover some hidden treasure…

    Skipping from Otis to Neil, merrily dispensing ear worms left, right and centre (that doesn’t sound very charming, but you catch our drift), we find another musician who knows that, sometimes, you have to dig deep to find the good stuff. It’s often the same with wines, but luckily our Buyer Ana Sapungiu is a superb miner and always strikes gold… The blueberry and star anise-laden Domaine de l’Arnesque Côtes du Rhône ‘Fleur de Garrigues’ 2011 (£9), for example, isn’t so much a wine as a gift to palates nationwide. So get in there as – to (mis-) quote Mr Young again – in the field of opportunity, Ana has been ploughing again… Now, if you really get carried away by the Rhône, you might end up in Provence, which is no bad thing, because it allows us to talk about Château Coussin Rosé 2012 (£12.25)… Aside from sun salutations and a trip to Stonehenge, this pink grapefruit and strawberry sorbet-flavoured jewel is a darn good way to welcome in the truanting golden sphere.

    That’s what our Ana sings as she skips around the office, sampling wines (contrary to popular belief, and unfortunately for her, she doesn’t spend her days cavorting around sunlit vineyards in bucolic idylls). No, she just sings ‘dig-diggy-dig’ in the office, where she discovered the 2010 Côtes du Rhône ‘Le Vent’ Rouge. The winemaker, Jean-Luc Colombo, was a chemist in a former life and has deployed his science-y know-how expertly with Le Vent Rouge. For just £8.50 (down from £10), you get an awful lot of silky redcurrant and bay leaf flavours for your money. Another belter is the herby, warm and sensuous Serabel Gingondas 2012 (£15.50). From an underrated appellation in a cracking year, this Gigondas could give its neighbour, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a run for its money. Now, are we correct in thinking that you’ve been looking out for the hidden treasure we promised earlier? Well you’ve found it by gum! For we have two pairs of tickets to the cultural mecca that is the Meltdown festival, this June, on London’s South Bank. Meltdown is curated by a different musician each year and, this year, it’s the turn of Unkle co-founder James Lavelle, so should be a trip-hip-hop-electro delight (if that means something to you, you’re officially cool. If it doesn’t, then we’ll translate: it’s going to be brilliant). ‘But how do I enter?’ you cry. You already have, by subscribing to these bi-monthly musings! Good luck!

    Whilst we do like it down in the valley, we keep our periscope firmly above ground, and were alarmed when we clocked the rise of councils banning the sale of beers and ciders above six per cent. Brewing is an art and brewers must achieve balance between elements such as hops, alcohol and sugar. But if such schemes were rolled out nationwide, 23 per cent of the 398 craft products that won awards at the International Beer Challenge and International Cider Challenge would be banned. Our Managing Director, Ayo Akintola, had no hesitation in joining Off-Licence News’ United to Protect Strength campaign, saying: “The criminalisation of that which is not criminal, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, mustn’t be allowed to creep in through the back door. If it does, we don’t face a Nanny State, so much as a ‘Nurse Ratched’ State.” But, *dismounts soapbox*, if you want to check out craft beers with serious flavour (many of which weight in over six per cent) before a ‘crafty’ council stops you, we have a stonking range in our shops. So swing by your local and ask our staff for their brew du jour.

    Anyway, we hope you’re at least six per cent happier having read this – ‘til next time!

Items 1 to 10 of 31 total