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NOBEL PRIZES, DOPING AND OLIGARCHS

Straight off the bat we’d like to apologise for our last email. Not the hideous typo in the first line (that was inexcusable and we have severely punished ourselves for that), but the fact that we got a bit carried away with the more expensive wine. In our defence, we’d just been paid and feeling a bit flush we were trying turn this economy around by spending it all.

This week however, things have turned decidedly autumnal and we’ve edged a little further from our last pay packet. So we’re going to focus on good value reds in this email. But don’t think that means we’re going to be dumbing it down, oh no, we’ve packed in poetry, philanthropy, politics, philosophy and purlieus (sorry that was the best “p” we could find for environment)…

Poco a Poco Tempranillo - £6.50

You can’t just drop Pablo Neruda in front of any old wine. The fact that the Poco a Poco Tempranillo weighs in at a humble £6.50, uses no oak to bolster its stature and still has the cojones to stand up to the work of a Nobel Prize winning poet is pretty impressive. Talking of Nobel Prizes, did anybody else think it might have been a little controversial giving the European Union the Nobel Peace Prize at the moment? Sorry, we went off on a tangent there. Mama Oddbins keeps telling us to leave the politics alone. So where were we? Oh yeah, why have we stuck a quote from a dead Chilean diplomat in front of this wine? Well, Poco a Poco, meaning “little by little” in Spanish, got its name because the winemaker believes that to make good wine you have to do it gradually, bit by bit, little by little. As long as he doesn’t go too slowly, we think he’s on to something because this a veritable riot of fruit and check out that price, if only all austerity were this palatable. Oops, riots and austerity, quick get back to the wine. Fans of the bargainous Quinta de Bons Ventos should definitely get a piece of this action. We will certainly never stop loving this wine, not even little by little.

Nuevo Mundo Carmeñere - £8.50

Oh Lance Armstrong, what have you done? His hero side inspired millions by overcoming cancer, convinced us to get our bikes out of the shed, raised almost £300m for charity and won probably one of the world’s most gruelling competitions a record seven times. And then his more controversial bullying, tax payer embezzling, chemically enhanced side was revealed. Things aren’t always cut and dry, as our new Nuevo Mundo Carmeñere (£8.50) proves. Let us take you on a mental road trip to Fact Town. It’s ripe, plummy and extremely elegant. No threat of chemical enhancement here; it’s organic and vegan. The guys who make it use lighter bottles and recycled packaging, they have also proactively reduced their greenhouse gas emissions and increased their water efficiency. So far so good, huh? Verging on saintly, we say. But then they’ve just been certified as South America’s first ever carbon neutral winery and here is where the controversy begins. Cue opening of environmental can and spilling forth of green worms. Carbon offsetting is a thorny issue. Good or bad? We say what could be better than thrashing out the pros and cons over a glass of unequivocally delicious Chilean red wine? One glass of this and there is every risk you will get greedy, not Lance Armstrong greedy, just a healthy “mmm another glass would be excellent” greedy.

 

Château Thénac Fleur du Périgord - £13

In these tough economic times wealthy oligarchs aren’t always our favourite people. But do they deserve all that bad press? It’s easier to roll our eyes while hearing about their profligate exploits and tax dodging, than admit that some of them can be quite philanthropic. This is why Roman Abramovich spending £40,000 to hire a private jet to fly sushi to him in Azerbaijan, makes a much more tantalising news story than him anonymously paying a ransom to secure the release of British aid workers being held hostage in Chechnya. The fact the latter is true and he saved their lives, and the former might not be true, seeing as how he’s a vegetarian and it’s highly unlikely that anyone would pay that much for the boring cucumber and avocado sushi, is irrelevant. The über-rich aren’t all bad. We can prove it, but we’re afraid we have to use a football analogy, so bear with us. Roman Abramovich pumped a lot of money into an underachieving football club, which turned their fortunes around and promoted livelier competition in the Premier League. His best friend and business partner Eugene Shvidler is doing the vinous equivalent and his exploits are scaring wines’ Premier League big boys: Bordeaux. Mr Shvidler made millions by being very good at maths, he then invested some of it into Château Thénac, a rundown winery in Bergerac, a region that struggles to steal the limelight it deserves from its more famous neighbour. The Fleur du Périgord (£13) that he’s produced is a marvel, offering a vibrant and lively alternative to fusty old Claret and it even won the plaudits of another billionaire, when it was chosen to be served on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class flights. Eugene Shvidler may be the rich one, but with a glass of this, we are the ones that are contented. Lao Tzu says that makes us the rich ones, and he was wise because he wrote the Tao Te Ching and had one of those really long beards that often go with such intelligence.

That’s all from us, we need to lie down after all these highbrow words.  Toodle pip.