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12:53pm Monday 1st October 2012
10:32am Monday 24th September 2012
I feel like I’m being watched. I look over my right shoulder and there, eyeing up my vino, is head of a moose. The giant mammal is part of the charm of the Oxford Blue and it will have to put up with a lot of people scratching its nose as the autumn changes to this local pub come in full swing. Thursdays Chris Murray and his talented Chef Mark Bradbury are launching a steak night, Tuesdays they will start a live performance and a new seasonal menu are all part of the exciting plans, but what I really wanted to find out about was the wine. The thing about Chris is he is passionate about his wine and local beers. Before we even sat down he was showing me the Oxfordshire Ales and chatting excitedly about his new finds.
3:34pm Friday 14th September 2012
Last Thursday I began the day with a glass of Champagne in the sun. This uncommon occurrence was a preview to the wines on offer at “Keeping It Local” at the Oxford Castle Quarter this weekend, and one of the stars is the Champagne.
10:35am Thursday 30th August 2012
This weekend’s foodie festival wasn’t all about food. There were plenty of libations to keep even the thirstiest satisfied. Besides the drinks master classes and without even mentioning the Casillero del Diablo wine stand I counted, three separate coffee stands, as well as milkshake, smoothies, juices of varying ingredients from fruit and vegetable to herbal, organic milk products, spiced hot chocolate, a range of teas, cider, water, beers, Oxfordshire Ales, sangria, rum, three further wine stands, a bubbly import stand, ginseng spirit and gin. By the time I got to men serving Mojitos I had lost count and decided maybe I should just stick with the master classes.
11:28am Friday 24th August 2012
The final summer bank holiday is upon us. With the Jubilee celebrations a distant memory and the Olympic flame doused, you might wonder what there is left to toast? Well, if you live in Oxford, then there is plenty.
10:09am Saturday 16th June 2012
Impressed by Christopher Gray’s description of the Gavi di Gavi Cru Maddalena he drank while at the Garsington Opera, I decided to revisit this often-overlooked white wine. The Gavi is a small region in Italy Southwest of Milan and offers a zesty alternative to Pinot Grigios. I popped by the Oxford Wine Company, to pick up a bottle of Comprosso Gavid di Gavi, for £11.99. It is a wonderful example of the wine, pale straw in colour, with light aroma of apples. It’s full bodied, with high acidity and minerality giving it crispness. It has a long finish and at only 12.5% ABV, it isn’t too heavy for summer.
12:45am Saturday 2nd June 2012
10:05am Friday 25th May 2012
5:34pm Thursday 17th May 2012
9:12am Friday 11th May 2012
Organisers cancelled the Asparagus Festival in Evesham because of rain and flooding. Now we are told British asparagus is in crisis. Luckily, Medley Farm in Binsey continues to supply local shops, restaurants and the public. Millets farm shop in Abingdon sells their asparagus daily. They are growing a portion of their crop under poly tunnels meaning even the cold May start can’t stop the crop. As the rest of the country suffers with imports from Peru, Oxonians will be eating the fresh British veg.
5:17pm Monday 7th May 2012
Weather experts claim we are in the “wettest drought on record.” Does this mean we should bring a brolly and wear wellies while we use the watering can? Despite the wacky weather, Oxfordshire vineyards are using it to their advantage.
1:07am Friday 27th April 2012
12:29am Friday 27th April 2012
We are starting to hear the whisper of summer. Black clothes and boots are being banned to the back of the closets. Emerging in their place are bright colours and skimpier skirts. Of course being Oxford, we will still need a sturdy over coat when we venture outside. That doesn’t stop us from longingly looking at the picnic blankets and wishing for those crispy whites of summer.
11:00am Thursday 12th April 2012
4:37pm Friday 6th April 2012
6:21pm Thursday 29th March 2012
There was a lot of talk on Friday about the announcement of the Government’s Alcohol Strategy. This included a minimum unit price (mup) of 40p a unit of alcohol. This means that those of us that regularly spend £6-£10 on a bottle of wine probably won’t see a price difference due to the mup. However, those that partake in Aldi’s £2.99 a bottle or three bottles under £9, will now be paying more unless those bottles are under 9.97% Alcohol By Volume (ABV) which is doubtful.
12:35pm Thursday 22nd March 2012
Starting Saturday the city of Oxford will be taken over by authors and authorities on prose, plays, poetry and similar such bumf. Christ Church will be the core of all things culture (if it is not all ready).
12:22pm Thursday 22nd March 2012
12:19pm Thursday 22nd March 2012
Just nine miles from Oxford city centre is Bothy Vineyard, one of the oldest vineyards in Oxfordshire. Originally it was a glorified garden building on the outside of Oakley Park. More than 30 years ago it was turned into a vineyard. In 2002 Sian and Richard Liwicki bought it and have created an eco friendly vineyard, winery and lifestyle.
11:47am Monday 5th March 2012
9:25am Friday 10th February 2012
11:31pm Sunday 29th January 2012
8:00am Thursday 19th January 2012
It’s almost the middle of January and your determination to detox is beginning to dwindle. You don’t want to ruin the weeks of healthy living, but you are longing for a bit of zest to energize your life.
8:40am Thursday 22nd December 2011
12:52pm Thursday 15th December 2011
4:23pm Thursday 8th December 2011
Shiraz and spice and all things nice . . . the sun has shone on vines in South Australia’s Barossa Valley since the 1840s, when settlers first planted their highly-prized crop. The most famous and largest wine region of the “big four”, the Barossa’s flat valley floor is blanketed with vineyards and has never been plagued by phylloxera.
7:30am Thursday 1st December 2011
7:50am Thursday 24th November 2011
It seems to be the season for wine tastings — not (for me anyway) the imbibing sort, but the leading and showing of wines to all sorts of groups. The other night I returned to a society I first spoke to some 12 years ago.
7:20am Thursday 17th November 2011
As a family we went to Greece a lot when my sister and I were children. It satisfied my mum’s love of the heat and my dad’s fascination for Ancient Greece. I am not sure that we were sufficiently appreciative. I spent the entire two weeks lurking in the shade, desperate for the damp shroud of a Scots mist whilst my sister, later an architecture student at Cambridge, once famously denounced Knossos by saying “not another heap of stones…”
7:00am Thursday 10th November 2011
I fear we are turning into a family of slouches. I returned home the other day to find my dog curled up in front of the telly that he had (inadvertently) switched on and that was showing some hideously trashy programme which, most alarmingly of all, appeared to have captured his interest.
7:00am Thursday 3rd November 2011
I have only seen the Mona Lisa once. I was about nine years old and my most vivid recollection of the experience was being bitterly disappointed by its diminiative size and how exhausted I was trying to get anywhere near it, so thick were the rows of tourists between me and the painting.
6:00am Thursday 27th October 2011
So, New Zealand are the new rugby world champions. I am no expert but the final appeared to me closer to tug of war: you sensed the New Zealanders had that trophy in their teeth and they weren’t about to give it up!
7:40am Thursday 20th October 2011
6:50am Thursday 13th October 2011
7:40am Thursday 6th October 2011
In the 1980s I had a part-time, pre-university job in the cigarette / wine and spirits section of my local supermarket. The department was positioned at the back end of the fruit and vegetable isle at the time and one of the things that used to astonish me were the number of people who I would watch ‘sampling’ the grapes to “make sure they were okay” before putting (sometimes) a bunch in their trolley.
7:50am Thursday 29th September 2011
Does anyone drink Madeira wine? I am fairly confident that in all of the time I have been writing about wine I’ve never once mentioned it and I’m equally sure that since I sampled some as part of my wine exams (a distant memory) I haven’t tried it since. Shoddy me.
7:30am Thursday 22nd September 2011
11:36am Monday 19th September 2011
7:20am Thursday 1st September 2011
7:20am Thursday 25th August 2011
My friends arrived for lunch the other day carrying a bottle of bubbly. How nice! I was even happier to see that the bottle in question was Duval Leroy Fleur de Champagne Premier Cru (£28.49 www.waitrosewine.com) — very much a favourite of mine and one that I tend to take to people as a thank you.
6:50am Thursday 18th August 2011
Stereotypes may be the source of some cracking jokes but that they so often reinforce a negative idea of a place or peoples can be extremely frustrating. Just the other night we were out for dinner with friends and the wine list came to me for a decision.
6:40am Thursday 11th August 2011
We are now well into the holidays and I have just picked up a text message from a friend whose nine-year-old son has just won two bottles of wine on a tombola whilst on holiday. I am not entirely sure of the legalities there (bottles went direct to parents, clearly) but I have to say that he’s the sort of child that I need to spend more time with.
9:46am Monday 8th August 2011
I am on a ‘stay-in-Britain’ extended-family one-week holiday. Just before you think ‘ah, how nice’, be aware that I arrived in a two-seater sports car, mindful that come the time when I need to escape there will be limited space for hangers on.
7:50am Thursday 28th July 2011
I only recently learnt that Leyda (as in Chile’s Leyda Valley) means ‘the way’; significant because the blue train station that is depicted on the certain labels of Viña Leyda wines was the last stop for trains travelling from Santiago to the Pacific Coast.
7:00am Thursday 14th July 2011
7:40am Thursday 7th July 2011
6:30am Thursday 23rd June 2011
There is a great scene in the wonderfully entertaining film, Legally Blonde where the ‘pink’ heroine Elle Woods is standing in a computer store scantily dressed as a bunny rabbit purchasing a laptop. Spurned by her ex and mocked by her fellow Harvard students, her purchase represents her first step to be taken seriously.
6:40am Thursday 16th June 2011
Generic wine tastings is the name we wine trade folks give to events that focus on a particular country. The likes of Wines of Australia or Wines of Argentina are typically vast affairs, in substantial venues with an impressive gaggle of importers, sommeliers and journalists making their way from wine to wine. Tastings organised for emerging countries tend to have a more modest feel and it is noticeable that attendees tend to be those looking for something new with less journalists about because there are typically fewer wines with representation in the UK.
7:00am Thursday 9th June 2011
I have a wine maker friend from Spain with whom I have had a lot of fun, selling his wine all over the UK over the years. We have spoken at fancy dinners in plush surroundings and stood behind trestle tables in windswept markets . . . wherever we’ve ended up, it’s always been fun. I believe it was the first time that we met that we found ourselves standing in the same — very lengthy — queue to taste a sweet, sparkling wine from Canada.
3:42pm Thursday 2nd June 2011