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The Oxford Wine Company is delighted to announce that Marcia Waters Master of Wine is joining us as Wine Buyer. Marcia is well known in the trade and is currently Chairman of the Education and Examination board at the MW Institute. In the past she was Wine Controller at Tesco's, General Manager at Anglo-American (Boschendal and Vergelegen) and buyer for Rothchild Waddesdon. She has recently been running her own consultancy company based near Thame, as well as lecturing, selling and training.

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So the Oddbins name has been relaunched with 37 odd shops, including two in Oxford, that were rescued after the dramatic collapse of the once iconic company. It seems that there is a definite change in policy and that there will be a range of 375 wines, many at the cheaper end. Apparently the idea is to attract a new range of customers and not the "loyal bunch of customers" once associated with Oddbins. The old original Oddbins (before it was sold to Nicolas and went downhill rapidly!) had a wonderful and interesting esoteric selection but it sounds to me as if the decision is to take on the supermarkets - a dangerous game.

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I was enjoying a glass of Viognier recently in the excellent company of the guys from Christopher Piper Wines in a local hostelry in Ottery St Mary in darkest Devon. I had met Chris 3 months earlier at the Harpers Top Merchant Awards and as I often take holidays in Devon it seemed appropriate to meet up and exchange views. We are both family companies with similar turnover and staffing levels so much useful information was shared. However the peace was shattered when Chris started laughing whilst consuming a steak sandwich. A piece of steak became firmly stuck in his throat. He was coughing and spluttering, turning red, then blue - the seriousness of the situation was becoming apparent!! I got myself in position with my hands around Chris's substantial girth and attempted the Heimlich Manoeuvre. As I started to squeeze and jerk Chris was drinking vast quantities of the Viognier as no water was on the table. This seemed to do the trick and out popped the offending article. The affable Chris, watery eyed and hugely relieved, celebrated life with another glass of wine. Now that's what I call style!!

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The island of Sark in the Channel Islands is now home to a vineyard, as is the tiny island of Brecqhou west of Sark. The Barclay brothers, owners of the Daily Telegraph, have planted 11 hectares of vines, among them Chardonnay, Gamay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. The sites have been carefully chosen and the first vintage should be available next year. The influence will be strongly French and the plan is to make some sparkling and still wine, although the greatest challenge is likely to be the wind. So among other precautions they are planting 5000 trees and shrubs to promote biodiversity and to protect the vines. There's nothing like a challenge!!

Date: 01/01/2012 | Author: Ted Sandbach