A lunchtime browse of the shelves at a local Oddbins (www.oddbins.com) left me modestly encouraged. This UK-based high street wine chain was at the forefront of the wine revolution that occurred during the 1990s. Over recent years, however, the murmuring among geeks has been that Oddbins' range has lost its way, with fewer interesting wines and higher prices. Now this chain seems to be showing signs of recovery: yes, prices are a little higher than the likes of Waitrose and Majestic, but there are some really interesting wines on the shelves. I found myself buying a Marcel Deiss Pinot Blanc 2002 for £8 and a Loire Chenin advertising itself as a wine for sushi for £7 (strangely, this lacked any information on vintage, appellation and producer - I'm guessing it's a 2004 Anjou Blanc). I was tempted by Ben Glaetzer's Heartland Petit Verdot 2004, but I really don't need to be buying wines seeing how awash with samples I am at the moment. The Sunday Express want me to do a double page spread on wine by mail order/web, focusing on reviewing 8 mixed cases, so that will be quite a sample session opening almost 100 wines at once.
Tonight I'm off to dinner with Dirk Niepoort, Neil Beckett and Zubair Mohamed of Raeburn Fine Wines. Should be fun.