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  • World Malbec Day

    We started this year full of optimism; we were confident we’d achieve our fitness and financial goals without sacrificing the quality of our wine consumption (there are some lines you don’t cross). We were certain Elon Musk would find a way of transfiguring ocean plastic into young and virile white rhinos and that the Arctic Monkeys would go on tour, releasing a readily available and reasonably priced allocation of tickets… Guess what, now were on the brink of WW3, are you happy with yourself Mr Turner? We would’ve looked good on the dance floor but now it’s nothing but a radioactive desolate discotech and frankly we’re not even in the mood for dancing!

    With the destruction of humanity pencilled in for some time next Tuesday, we implore you to leave no celebration unobserved. Thus, it is with great festive fervour that we wish you all a happy World Malbec Day! In honour of the occasion we thought we’d answer a few frequently asked questions about Malbec (if you’d rather just get straight into drinking Malbec we completely understand… time is short.)

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    What is Malbec?

    Malbec is a full bodied red wine that is mostly produced in Argentina.

    Is Malbec Called anything else?

    Cot, Auxerrois & Pressac

    Where is Malbec from?

    Originally Malbec came from France where it was one of the 5 key Bordeaux varietals however after the outbreak of Phylloxera (a troublesome tree bug) in the late 1850s that ravaged French grape vines, plantings of Malbec became much less significant in Bordeaux. There is a growing trend for Malbec produced in Cahors (south of Bordeaux) but by far the most important place for Malbec is Argentina. You have probably seen Malbec from the Argentinian region of Mendoza where it is most densely planted and particularly at higher altitudes the grape does exceptionally well. However other regions in Argentina such as Patagonia and Salta are becoming increasingly significant.

    What does Malbec taste like?

    Typically, Malbec will taste of blackberry, bramble and plum if it is from warmer climates like Mendoza or it will have more of a tart dark cherry character if it’s grown in a cooler region like Cahors. This fruit profile will usually be balanced with a varying amount of mocha, coffee, blackpepper and sweet spice depending on the amount of time the wine was aged in new oak.

    What food does Malbec go with?

    Due to the Argentinian link, most wine & food types would recommend a nice juicy steak and we whole heartedly agree. However, it will also pair really nicely with barbequed meats with plenty of herbs and spices, blue cheese and Portobello mushrooms.

    What other wines are similar to Malbec?

    If you like Malbec, give Australian Shiraz a chance as it’s similarly full-bodied with an equally appealing dark fruit profile and a typically spicy undertone.

  • Front Runners

    Grand National Wines

    The year’s gone by with a gallop,

    And now that summer rears its graceful head,

    We seem to find ourselves back on track,

    The best performers of the year before,

    Of course, are bursting out of the gate,

    But we also thought a leg-up was necessary,

    For some fresh young contenders,

    They come in all colours and varieties,

    Yet the line-up seems to be stronger than ever,

    Perhaps you favour a racy young white,

    Or is your money on one more mature, big and dark?

    You might well back something lively that starts with a bang,

    Whichever it is you fancy,

    Make sure you don’t forget the Red Rum.

    Oddbins; nothing but front runners!

    Frontrunners-Footer

    Château Coussin Rosé 2016

    A strong favourite; lightly coloured and youthful with an undeniable elegance. It’s fast out of the gates and performs exceptionally well in sunny conditions.

    First Creek Hunter Valley Chardonnay 2015

    Already illustriously awarded, which has lead it to become a household name, it’s racy, sharp as a whip but perfectly balanced.

    Manuka Springs Pinot Noir 2016

     Pinot Noir seems to really deliver when guided by a firm New Zealand hand; there is an intensity and concentration that really seems to put it a nose ahead of the rest.

    Bollinger Special Cuvée NV Champagne

    To the victor, goes the spoils…

  • Big Wine Hunting

    You can comeback from South Africa with all sorts of things, it is an extraordinary place. It's highly likely you'll return with Rodriguez’s entire discography stuck in your head. How good was ‘Searching for Sugar Man?’ “I wonder, what this has to do with wine and I wonder, why I’m wasting my time;” perspicacious man is Sixto Rodriguez, like a Central American Dylan.

    If you’re a special kind of person you might feel like returning from South Africa with a suitcase full of mounted animal heads - why would you want to decorate your house with animal heads? Clearly, these big game hunter’s personalities weren’t driving away visitors fast enough and required a short hand to inform guests that they’re ‘unbalanced’. Bet those heads talk to them at night; “bro, you know you look super fat in camo, like, fatter than normal;” murdered Buffalo have a real problem with body shaming apparently. If you are considering taking up big game hunting, just remember that you would be occupying the same spiritual space as Donald Trump Jr, a man so inept he’s managed to make Jared Kushner look competent.

    Our buying team went to South Africa last year and instead of bringing back harrowing memories, they brought back incredible wines. They confirmed there’s been a bit of a winemaking revolution in South Africa over the past decade, the wines are less-oaky, less-extracted and not over ripe like South Africa of the past. Today, these Saffer wines offer some of the best value wines across the board. Here’s some of the South African varieties and winemakers that are well worth knowing about.

    Chenin-Blanc

    Chenin Blanc is the most planted grape variety in South Africa, often referred to locally as Steen. You may well have caught up with Chenin in the Loire Valley, where it will show off flavours of tart apple with waxy, mineral undertones. In the Western Cape, Chenin tends to be riper, presenting a profile of peach, tropical fruit, hay and floral aromas. The finest examples are reminiscent of Chardonnay in Burgundy or Viognier in the Rhone, with a succulent fruit profile, well-integrated oak and a smooth creamy texture. Check out Chenin from Paarl in the Western Cape like Wild Olive or the wines of Ken Forrester in Stellenbosch where the winemaking community refer to him as ‘Mr Chenin.’

    Pinotage

    Pinotage is South Africa’s signature red varietal, which is actually a crossing between Pinot Noir and Cinsault (in SA it went by the synonym ‘Hermitage’ hence Pinotage). You might think; therefore, it would taste somewhat like Pinot Noir given the Pinot paternity but it seems Pinotage is its own grape and won’t be dinning out on its parents’ reputation. Nope, its profile is actually much more like Syrah with a relatively full body and a spicy, smoky dark fruit character. Pinotage does exceptionally well in Walker Bay like Southern Right wines and grows wonderfully well in Stellenbosch, like Ken Forrester’s Petit Pinotage.

    Syrah

     

    Syrah is a wonderful grape for demonstrating the bridge between the Old and New World that South Africa offers. Even in just the name; some producers will, like the French, call the varietal Syrah while others will follow the Aussie line and call it Shiraz. It straddles the fence in flavour as well, often displaying a classically European savoury character; tobacco and mocha are common. Yet the voluptuous, unrelenting dark fruit profile of black cherry and blackberry is decidedly New World. The Lismore Syrah form Greyton is a fantastic expression and must be tried, as is the Marvelous Red by Adam Mason if you’re looking for a more affordable South African Syrah blend.

  • International Whisk(e)y Day

    Now, if you’ve ever been near a social media site, two things will likely have happened. Firstly, your internet soul was probably harvested by some pompous Etonian and a child with pink hair. Once they had it, they set some Ukrainian girls round your house who convinced you never to rule a small village in Sri Lanka. We know, you would’ve been like a young Chandrika Kumaratunga, those posh gits! Secondly, you probably noticed there’s quite a lot of days in celebration of stuff on social media. Most are stupid; like ‘World Brazil Nut Day’; it’s not even a real nut, nor is it exclusively from Brazil, we should just call it ‘South American Devious Seed Day!’ Yet, there is one day, that is more powerfully festive than Christmas, Easter and ‘South American Devious Seed Day’ combined; we are of course talking about ‘International Whisky Day’. This morning people up and down the country leant out of their respective windows to ask of their respective paper boys, “what’s today my fine fellow?” To which they received the reply, “Today? Why, it’s International Whisky Day!” In honour of this most auspicious occasion we thought we’d play the role of the ghost of International Whisky Past, Present & Future…

    Scotch-Whisky

    What is Single Malt Scotch Whisky?

    It’s pretty straight forward actually; it must be made from 100% malted barley and come from a single distillery. That way, you get a whisky that’s truly expressive of that distillery and the place it hails from. This applies to whisky produced across Scotland, be it off the coast like Talisker or right down south like Glenkinchie. They’ll tell you a story those single malts… you just need a word or two of Gaelic.

    Bourbon

    What is Bourbon?

    (Don’t say chocolate biscuit, don’t say chocolate biscuit.) It’s a brown custard cream (Damn it!) The esteemed scion of Bourbon County, Kentucky - now made across the whole of the USA - is a grain whiskey that must consist of at least 51% corn. Bourbon’s flavour is defined by the maturation of the spirit; it must be aged in charred new oak barrels for a minimum of two years, imparting body, vanilla sweetness and whatever other qualities are sought by the distiller, be they the spice-and-honey complexity of Evan Williams, or the voluptuously spicy yet sweetness of Maker’s Mark Bourbon.Japan

    What are Japanese Whiskies Like?

    Whisky production in Japan began around 1870, but the first commercial production was in 1924 upon the opening of the country's first distillery, Yamazaki Perhaps the most renowned name in Japanese Whisky is Masataka Taketsuru. Taketsuru married a Scottish woman and while in Scotland, Taketsuru underwent a five-day crash course in distillation at Longmorn, also studying grain distillation at Bo’ness and spending five months at Hazelburn in Campbeltown. He took his knowledge back to Japan to help Shinjiro Torii establish the countries first distillery, Yamazaki. In 1934 he established his own distillery Dainipponkaju, which would later change its name to Nikka. Typically, Japanese whiskies are quite similar in style to Scotch, most malted barley and peat is shipped from the UK. Perhaps the most distinctive factor in Japanese whisky production is the use of ‘clear wort’ that typically gives the whiskies a crisp, clean and fruiter flavours opposed to cereal characters classic in Scotch.

    Irish

    How are Irish Whiskies Different?

    Firstly, they are spelt ‘Whiskey’ in Ireland not ‘Whisky’ because everyone felt understanding the world of spirits was far too easy without uniform spelling. Most consider Ireland the original home of whiskey with some records dating Irish distillation back to the 13th Century.  However, a long period of decline from the late 19th Century has seen Irish Whiskey over taken by many other whisky producing regions. For many decades Irish Whiskey production was dominated by two distilleries, however we’re pleased to say there’s a bit of a resurgence on. In the last few years new craft distilleries have been popping up like Teeling in Dublin and Glendalough that are producing truly astonishing small batch whiskies. Although there are a broad range of styles, Irish Whiskey is typically defined by being triple distilled and with minimal use of peat. This creates whiskies that are delicate, light-bodied and aromatic with notes of corn husk, dried citrus fruit and caramel.

  • Spring Calls for Rosé!

    Nerve agents and snow in March? Clearly, Putin has taken the concept of a Cold War far too literally and enlisted the services of Storm from X-Men to delay our trains and unsettle our grapes vines. Marvel have made in excess of 18,000 superhero movies over the last 2 years yet Boris can’t find us one spidery bat person to stand watch over the White Cliffs of Dover, terrible. Although, perhaps superhero procurement should be the responsibility of the Minister of Defence… Gavin, you’re already on thin ice. Let’s not kid ourselves that the North Koreans aren’t already working on this, Kim Jong Un has obviously been binge watching Jessica Jones yelling at aids, “get me one of those, get me one now.”

    Before we inadvertently bring about world peace, we should probably mention that since Storm’s contract negotiations with Russia have stalled, it’s starting to get a great deal warmer; a perfect time to drink some Rosé as we might not make it to the summer! Thus, we thought it an excellent idea to answer a few commonly asked Rosé questions!

    What are Provence Rosés?

    Provence is a wine growing region found in the most south-easterly corner of France and blessed with a wonderful climate for grape growing. It gets tonnes of sunshine, little rainfall, warm days and cool nights; which causes acid retention and greater aromatics and Provence also benefits from the famous ‘Mistral’ winds; keeping the vineyards dry, free of pests and the skies clear! There are some wonderful reds and whites coming out of this region and over the next few years you will undoubtedly start coming across more but we all know Provence is world famous for one thing; Rosé. Renowned for light extraction of colour, these pink-hued, delicate, floral wines are so delicious it feels unfair to only drink them for the 6 days of sun we get in the UK…

    A perfect example of a Provence style rosé…

    CABARET ROSÉ 2016 - £10.50Cabaret-Rose

    How are Rosé Wines Made?

    There are 3 main methods of making rosé:

    1. Maceration – To produce red wine you typically ferment the wine with the skin before you press. This gives the wine colour and tannin. To make most rosés, they simply macerate the wine on the skin for a shorter period of time typically 12-24 hours compared to upwards of 72 hours, which is common for red wines. This gives roses wines a delicate body and light colouring.
    2. Saignée (bleeding) – Rosé wines made in this fashion are essentially a by-product of red wine. If you want to make red wine more powerful, you can remove (bleeding off) some of the grape must from the skins, the remaining must will have a great skin to liquid ratio thus the final wine will be much more concentrated, tannic and deep of colour. The liquid separated from the original must and skins will have a much lighter colour and can be easily turned into to a good quality rosé.
    3. Blending – Fairly self-explanatory; the process of simply mixing red & white wine together to produce a rosé. This is a prohibited method for rosé production in many wine making regions and is rarely used for a high-quality wine with one notable exception; Champagne. Many rosé Champagnes of exceptional quality are made by merely blending red and white wines together!

    Are Light Rosés Better than Darker Rosés?

    The long and short of it; no. Light roses are not necessarily better, nor are they necessarily drier; however, there are usually stylistic differences. Light rosés will typically be closer in style to white wine with a lighter body, very little (if any) noticeable tannins and less of a red fruit profile. Darker rosés, due to greater extraction, will typically be richer, fuller-bodied and a more powerful fruit character. There are outstanding examples in both categories so don’t write off the darker styles!

    Looking for a dark rosé? Why not try a Tavel rosé? Tavel is a region renowned for exceptional quality darker rosés.

    FAMILLE PERRIN TAVEL ROSÉ 2016 - £16

    Tavel-Rose

     

    What Temperature Should Rosé be Served At?

    Rosé is clearly a wine that shows well when chilled but don’t overdo it. Just like white wine it should be served between 8-12°C. An hour in the fridge before serving will typically do the trick.

    What Food goes with Rosé?

    Let’s be honest, most rosé is going to be drunk as an aperitif, perhaps in the vicinity of a BBQ, which is really just an excuse to drink plenty of rosé, it’s circular. However, rosé is a fantastic food wine. For light Provence style wines think summer dishes; pan fried salmon, more interesting salads and due to the high acidity, you can even pair it with charcuterie and cheeses. Darker rosés will happily pair with richer dishes, try things like fish curries and matching them with Asian cuisine.

    What is Brosé?

    For some reason, rosé is perceived as ‘feminine’ by a section of society. To overcome this apparent stigma some gentlemen have taken to refer to it as ‘brosé’ (rosé for bros). You may regularly come across this turn of phrase if you spend any time around Chelsea in July. The “offending bros” will often be wearing boat shoes, possibly a pink shirt, in possession of a copy of GQ and hollering at each other “yeah boy, break out the brosé!” We would advise you to not join their ranks…

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  • The Spanish Road Less Travelled

    This week, we’d like to talk to you all about Spain. Ever since the 70s, when Brits, bored of package holidays to Blackpool and ‘Jolly Boys Outings’ to Margate, started bothering the folk of Benidorm with yells of “more vino por favour,” Spanish wine has been much loved in the UK. Washing down food that tasted a bit “foreign,” with jugs of Rioja based sangria. Good times! However, the 70s are over, now we all love a good bit of Tapas and Spain have become renowned for more than just Rioja. Thus, we thought it would be nice to highlight a few indigenous Spanish grapes that you might not have heard of…

    Garnacha

    This grape isn’t particularly obscure, in fact it’s the second most important red grape in Spain after Tempranillo but you might not be used to seeing it as a single varietal (It’s often found in blends in Rioja). Garnacha has gone through a bit of a revolution over the last 20 years or so, from relative vineyard ignominy, it has become the bell of the ball. The incredibly old Garnacha vines in Priorat and Aragon (a wine region, not the King of Gondor) have delivered wines with fantastic fruit concentration, typically displaying notes of red forest fruits baking spices and charred wood with supple tannins.

    Why not try…? LAS MORADAS 'SENDA' 2013 

    Senda

    Godello

    We know what you’re thinking; it’d be awesome to open a Samuel Beckett themed bar and name it Waiting for Godello. Well you can’t, it’s our idea, get your own 20th Century playwright’s bar! A few years ago, Rias Baixas, and Albariño were the region and grape names to drop to prove your wine aficionado credentials. These days, those names have become almost mainstream, and it's the tiny neighbouring region of Monterrei - and Albariño’s doppelganger Godello - that you need to be talking about to show off your esoteric knowledge. Like Albariño’s, Godello is crisp, fresh and so friendly to seafood it risks an injunction. Snap it up while it's still an undiscovered (and undervalued) gem.

    Why not try…? ALMA DE BLANCO GODELLO 2016 

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    Mencía

    Pronounced ‘men-thee-uh,’ you can normally find this plucky little red grape kicking about in Northwest Spain. It nearly went extinct until wine making legend Alvaro Palacios brought it back from the brink and made it the coolest cat in all of Bierzo. Mencía is renowned for having the aromatics of a well-made Pinot Noir but the intensity of Syrah. Displaying characters of sour cherry, red plum, bramble, liquorice and a mineral backbone, this wine is not the easiest find so when you do, you should probably buy a case.

    Why not try…? ALMA DE TINTO MENCIA 2016

    Mencia

  • Women in Wine

    It was a relatively busy month for those of us championing a bit of the old gender equality in the drinks trade. To be fair, those passionate about maintaining gender disparity might have been busy as well, we don’t know. Constantly tweeting “it’ll be illegal to ask out a woman next,” nodding along to Donald Trump diatribes and being furious Caitlin Moran was taught how to write, is probably quite time consuming. Anyway, while they were doing that, at the grown-ups table people were celebrating the 100-year anniversary of women winning the right to vote and International Women’s Day.

    Throughout 2018 we’ve been showcasing some of the finest wines in our range that also happen to be grown, vinified and bottled by women. Below we are featuring 3 female winemakers, that produce some of our top selling wines.

    Anette-Closheim-Title

    Anette Closheim produces modern, premium wines grown on the banks of the river Nahe. She supplies the sommeliers of top chefs and was the first winemaker to win the "Riesling Discovery of the Year" wine world award. Luckily for us, she also agreed to sell her wines through Oddbins!
    In a short time, Anette Closheim has made a name for herself as a winemaker. In the 150-year-old winery owned by her family, she grows highly ripe grapes, with a focus on the purity and concentration of the fruit.
    Anette studied wine business and was initially a product manager for a range of Single Malt Whiskies and premium vodkas.
    Thanks to these influences, the wines are presented in casually elegant bottles backed up by the quality of wines which are testament to the dedication Anette commits in the vineyard and the winery.

    Claudie-Jobard-title

    Claudie Jobard is following in the footsteps of her mother; Laurence Jobard, who gained great acclaim as one of the best oenologists in France. Under Laurence's watchful eyes, Claudie simply makes wonderful wines. She is meticulous in the fields because she knows you cannot make great wines unless you start with great fruit. She also believes that the wine is mostly "made" in the vineyards, not the cellars. Therefore, she strikes a balance between letting the terroir and grapes express themselves while also adding a few loving touches to influence the process.
    Claudie not only produces excellent wines under her own label, but also works as a winemaker at Remoissenet. Below are two perfect examples of her prowess. meticulous in the fields because she knows you cannot make great wines unless you start with great fruit. Claudie also knows that the wine is mostly "made" in the vineyards, not the cellars. Therefore, she strikes a balance between letting the terroir and grapes express themselves while also adding a few loving touches to influence the process.

    Liz-Silkman-Title

    First Creek’s star winemaker has collected an impressive number of awards, while still producing top-notch wines for her own label in her spare time. Liz Silkman tirelessly makes wine under the First Creek label and for 25 different clients at First Creek’s contract winemaking facility, so it was no real surprise when she was crowned 2016 Hunter Valley Winemaker of the Year.

    Growing up in Cessnock, Silkman never had the wine industry on her radar, despite having a relative making wine at Lake’s Folly and wine “always being around”. Surprisingly, no-one ever suggested a winemaking career to the budding student whose strong suits were maths and science. But while working in the cellar door at Pepper Tree Wines, winemaker Chris Archer called for some help in the winery and Silkman’s interest was sparked. “I liked the machinery and the process,” says Silkman. “It was something so new, exciting and different.”

    In 1999, armed with a freshly minted science degree, she heard on the grapevine that P.J. Charteris from Brokenwood was looking for a lab technician. Silkman landed the job, but found it was not for her. “I was terrible at it and I found it tediously boring.” So, she asked Charteris about spending some time in the cellar alongside Nick Paterson. Despite the long hours, modest wage and physical, on-the-job training, she loved it and was drawn in by the winemakers’ infectious passion for wine.

    In 2002, while doing vintage in New Zealand, Silkman was offered an ­assistant winemaker position at Tempus Two by Sarah-Kate Dineen. “I came home in a heartbeat,” says Silkman.

    Before they could make any wine, they had to build the winery, which Silkman recounts as “an amazing opportunity”. It was the openness of the working relationship with Dineen that allowed Silkman’s knowledge to soar. Today she is one of the most respected winemakers in the Southern hemisphere and is the hand behind the wonderful First Creek Shiraz and First Creek Chardonnay that have been excellently received by both Oddbins staff and customers since we started stocking them in 2016.

    You can also catch up on our first Women in Wine blog by clicking here.

  • St. Patrick's Day

    Paddys-Day-Blog-Banner Irish Whiskey for St Patrick's Day

    It’s St Paddy’s Day on Saturday! Where we can all ruin various delicious beverages by chucking a load of green food colouring in them. Our favourite is the river in Chicago that changes colour for a few hours; it’s reminiscent of when someone would micturate in a public swimming pool and an incriminating stream of green would lead straight back to the source. Was that real or was it a lifeguard conspiracy to keep us all docile and law-abiding? They were such squares; guarding our lives! We say, let’s march (but not run as it’s slippery) onto poolside, topple those ivory high chairs, give the swimming pools back to the people and dye them all green for St. Paddy’s Day! Woo revolution!

    If you are celebrating St Patrick’s Day we have some wonderful Irish whiskies and gins that will go down an absolute treat, we must also ask you to not attempt to overthrow the management of your local swimming pool, they’re actually doing a fine job.

  • International Women's Collaboration Brew Day

    If you’re one of the 7 people left in this fine country that still listen to British politicians, you may be under the impression that the key to everlasting happiness is the division of ‘boy jobs’ and ‘girl jobs’. Going on the One Show (which by the way is clearly Blue Peter for the over 60s) and singing the virtues of 1920s domesticity seemed like an odd campaign choice but who are we to judge? We forgot to even run!

    Right, last week was International Women’s day and in honour of this we’d like to hail the rise of female brewers in the craft beer scene. Throughout this month we’ve highlighted some of the amazing female winemakers that are blazing trails and smashing ceilings but we thought, what about beer? Perhaps, even more than in wine, brewing is perceived as the prerogative of men. Why? Female brewing can be traced back 9000 years in fact, throughout history women typically had a greater stake in beer than men (maybe not in the monasteries).  In Mesopotamian culture, Ninkasi was the goddess of beer but in the modern day we’re supposed to accept that in some corners of the industry, it is essentially a middle-class boy’s club, naming beers things like ‘Double D – double IPA’. (Apparently that’s a coveted bra size and seemingly allows you to put a balloon chested pinup girl on your pump clip.)

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    We’re proud to say that for the last couple of International Women’s days we’ve taken part in IWCBD (International Women's Collaboration Brew Day). Last year, our former Head Beer Buyer Sarah, along with other prominent women in the beer industry such as female brewers from Wild Card, East London Brewery, Five Points Brewing Co, Fourpure, Weird Beard Brew Co and Stroud Brewery canned a ridiculously delicious Rhubarb Pale Ale under the Unite branding. Last Wednesday, our buyer Jenny (who has taken over the beer category), went to Wild Card Brewery and under the careful guidance of Wild Card Head Brewer Jaega Wise and with the support of many other talented female brewers, they filled up those fermentation tanks for IWCBD. Keep an eye out in stores for the tropical delights of the finished beer!

    We believe that boy jobs and girl jobs are whatever the respective boy or girl would like to turn their hand to, and if that happens to be a fermentation tank then that’s hopping brilliant. Now go and put the bins out Theresa, the 20s are over.

  • Women in Wine

    We at Oddbins like a good bit of flag-waving, particularly if it’s used to land planes full of delicious imported wine. That was a stupid joke; no one lands planes anymore, it’s all done by Sat-Nav. In recent years we’ve stood on our soapbox (or winebox ay? Even inside brackets these dad jokes are embarrassing.) and supported independent brewers, artisan growers, organic, biodynamic and natural winemakers. Whether invited or not, we like weighing in on hot wine topics. That being said we think it’s long overdue that we all have a little chat about gender disparity in the wine trade... Imagine if we now just went on a sexist rant claiming women are too emotional to be at professional tastings or how menstrual cycles upset fermentation in the winery. You would all just have to go “o great we’ve got to hate Oddbins now, where am I going to buy my Primitivo?"  But seriously, there are people in the world that believe *@!$ like that! Whilst, the numbers are increasing dramatically every year, women are still in the minority in the winemaking world. Women winemakers are also less likely than their male peers to own their own winery; just as in so many other industries, the glass ceiling of the wine trade still seems to be pervasive.

    With that in mind it’s unsurprising that women have had to fight for their right to ferment, many have done just that though and claimed leading roles in the industry. Our buyers have noticed at trade tastings and on their travels to wine producing areas across the world, a significantly increasing female influence, even in traditionally male dominated regions. The fact is we have a growing number of wines made by women in our wine range (currently standing at approximately 20%). We are not actively searching for female winemakers per se (because we recognise and admire talented men and women winemakers equally) but this growing breadth in the range is happening, we hope, because it is a microcosm of the wider wine world. Throughout 2018 we will showcase some of the finest wines in our range that also happen to be grown, vinified and bottled by women. Below we are featuring 4 female winemakers, that produce some of our top selling wines.

    Debbie-Lauritz-w-bottles

    An oenology graduate of the prestigious Adelaide University, Debbie has become a cool climate specialist, having made wine overseas in the cool regions of Alsace, France; Marlborough, New Zealand; Niagara, Canada; Sonoma, California, in Australia at Piper's River, Tasmania and in the Victorian High Country on the mainland.

    Now in the role of Senior Winemaker, Debbie relishes the challenge of taking high elevation wines to another level with the impressive resources of Cumulus Estate. In the last few years, she has created some intriguing new additions to the Cumulus range, such as Sparkling Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Moscato and Rolling Pink. We at Oddbins were lucky enough to receive a parcel of her amazing value Rolling Hills Chardonnay and Shiraz that have pushed the perception of these varietals grown in Australia.  Watch this space for more of her innovative work.

    Samantha-OKeefe-W-BOTTLES

    Samantha arrived in South Africa seeking the ‘Californian dream’ and bought a former dairy farm in Greyton on the Western Cape. With her nearest wine neighbours over two hours away, the local shop 30 minutes away and a daily school run with her two toddlers taking an hour, she had little time to second guess her decision and so embarked on a 13-year journey that has resulted in the wine world clamouring for her wines.

    When O’Keefe was starting her wine career and considering which vines to grow in the then-untried Greyton area, she took advice from Peter Finlayson of Bouchard Finlayson, who said: “If you succeed, you will be considered a pioneer; if you fail, no-one will care.”

    The pioneer soon found that the barren mountain-top shale soils produced exceptional wines, not least the Syrah, which has gained recognition from Robert Parker in his list of the 50 Best New Releases from 2015, and was highly praised by Neal Martin of the Wine Advocate with 94 points.

    The reception of Sam’s wines at Oddbins from both staff and customers, have been truly astonishing. We tried the Lismore Viognier at our annual Oddbins Christmas meeting and from MD to wine advisor, the room was struck dumb.

    D&K-with-bottles

    In 2008, when Karoline was 24 and Dorothy just 22, Karl-Heinz, their father who was running the family winery, was suddenly taken ill. The daughters returned, prematurely, to Sausenheim, and took charge. They have had to finish their education on the job, though they have been helped where necessary by their wider family and by some of the winemakers Karoline did placements with during her studies. There are five full-time employees: the two daughters, their mother, who does the accounts, a female intern and a token man, who drives the tractors. Under Dorothy & Karoline’s tutelage the Gaul range have become a beautifully modern expression of German winemaking. Their Dornfelder and Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) are defined by freshness and intensity of fruit; they’re absolutely delightful if you’re in the business for a lighter red.

    Watch this space for our next update on female winemakers.

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