Oddbins Winter Tasting
Carol Emmas gives her verdict on the Oddbins winter tasting.
I approached the Oddbins tasting with some caution. Of course, we’re all behind Oddbins and don’t want to see it fail. So the pleasure and relief on my face must have been obvious when I tasted the first Italian and Spanish whites and found them to be funky, upbeat and with bags of character.
Wines like the blended Falerio Organic 2008, Saladini Pilastri, Marche, Italy. Why would you want Pinot Grigio when you can have this interesting, opulent blend with a fresh nose of jasmine and honeysuckle and an unctuous palate that defies the £6.99 price tag?
I also really liked some of the newcomers - just what you need to liven up a flagging Christmas party. The whites were undoubtedly on form, with the invigorating and unusual New Zealand and Australians definitely grabbing my attention. All the Rieslings were cracking, but especially the small parcel Peter Lehmann Wigan Eden Valley Riesling, 2003 (£16.99) with its abundance of lime flavours and sultry smoky backbone.
The New World reds triumphed over the Old World. The coolest reds were the New Zealand Pinot Noirs which were displaying great quality for around the £10 mark. “It’s not a case of oversupply with Pinot Noir,” says buyer Claire Graham. “But New Zealand realises it have to be competitive.” Whirlpool Reach Pinot Noir 2008, Tasmania with its delicate soft full-fruit flavours, is great value at (£9.99).
The Aussie reds were also showing well, as they move increasingly towards elegance and away from the alcohol fuelled aggressives. Great value was the Fermoy Estate ‘Geographe Vineyard’ Shiraz, 2008, Geographe (£9.99) and even d’Arenberg “The Dead Arm’ Shiraz, 2006, McLaren Vale was much more refined than its days of old when you needed a knife and fork to tackle it.
“It’s all about drinkability,” says Simon Baile. “We’re kicking back on the more overt flavours, we want people to relax and savour our wines.” And with 20% off as case discount, if you pick right there are certainly some bargains to be had.