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Talking Wine
with Ted Sandbach - August 2014

The Oxford Wine Company has just secured the exclusive UK distribution rights to Downton Abbey wines – two special blends put together from Bordeaux mimicking the style of wine drunk during the early 20th Century. The Claret blend is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but with some Malbec - widely used at that time but later badly damaged in the 50's due to hail storms and often not replanted. The white is a Muscadelle and Semillon blend - again mimicking the style of the times. Both are from the 2012 vintage and sell at £12.99 - order from the Oxford Wine Company website or find them in our shops. According to Mr Carson, the head butler in the television series: “Well in my opinion, to misquote Doctor Johnson, “If you're tired of style you are tired of life!!”

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Vega Sicilia, the iconic Spanish winery from Ribera del Duero, has just had to write off 500,000 bottles due to excessively high deposits of sediment in the bottles. The mishap was caused during the filtration process and whilst the wine apparently tastes fine it doesn't look great. Paulo Alvarez, the CEO, said "the sediment does not affect the quality but their aesthetic appearance and our prestige does not allow us to have them on the market. In spite of the cost involved it was a necessary course of action and we accept the consequences.”
A £15 million error - I wonder if the filtration manager still has his job?!

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So your local supermarket is suddenly offering a blanket wine discount for the weekend and this may seem too tempting to resist. It often is and as I have said before there are some real genuine bargains that can be had at certain times of year. However, bargain hunters need to keep a permanent eye on the prices of some wines which I am reliably informed often seem to creep up in advance of a "promotion". No names mentioned of course but the Spanish red that was at £6.99 and somehow crept up to £8.49 prior to the "promotion" actually only offers a less than 10% discount. However products such as well known Champagne brands can be tracked and analysed more carefully - this is where the real savings are made!!

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There seems to be a new move by a group of MPs to try to get more warning signs and information on a bottle of wine. This would include advice about units permitted and calorie content. Information is knowledge but a far smarter move would be to introduce minimum pricing so that wine and beer (in particular) could not be promoted at irresponsible prices by large companies that can afford to sell below cost price just to entice customers into their store!!