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.
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...