I intended to write a post this time last year about the renaissance of Oddbins. This was based on no more evidence than a visit to the Earl’s Court branch where the staff were cheerful and the shop well-stocked with wines that I wanted to buy. Most importantly the prices were good rather than the 20% too expensive that seemed the norm during the Castel/ Simon Baile days. The post never got written because of the birth of my daughter but I was reminded of it on a visit to their Kentish town branch last week. They had a nice-looking Primitivo for £8, the normally excllent Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Villa Maria (better than Cloudy Bay as we used to say in Headingley) for only £10 and, the one I went for, a 2003 Ribera del Duero called simply ‘One‘ for £11.50. I can’t say that I gave it the normal World of Booze objective tasting. The bottle was cold and we drank it out of paris goblets with spicy pizza whilst attempting to speak schoolboy French with a two year old child. Nevertheless, I remember quite a bit of sweet oak and then something savoury and mellow. It tasted good and it tasted like Ribera del Duero. Quite an achievement for the price. For me Oddbins should be all about one off parcels such as this sold by enthusiastic staff. It was gratifying to find this excitement at 9pm on a freezing night in Kentish Town.
The other side of the authentic Oddbins experience is wackiness. During their 90s heyday, Oddbins could afford the best money could buy courtesy of Ralph Steadman. Now in these times of austerity, they appear to have let a gang of facetious students loose on their website. So not only do they offer suggestions on food-matching but also the right music and even circumstance to enjoy your wine with. The tips for my wine of the week are chilli con carne, Bob Marley and ‘after witnessing great injustice.’ Perhaps it seemed like a good idea after a particularly strenuous tasting. Ah well, at least the shops are back on track.
This is my hundredth post. I was intending to write something really thoughtful to mark to occasion but the inspiration didn’t strike.