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. 

I was there for the dry run (wet launch) of their steak night. Three different steaks on offer from £15 to £25, but the interesting thing was the wines chosen by Chris to go with them.  My favourite match was the Baron de Badassiere Syrah, 2010, for £18 a bottle or £4.50 for a 175ml glass. It’s a full-bodied red with lots of spice and length to stand up to the beef.

Starting Tuesday September 25, Chris along with Catweazle’s Matt Sage, launch the “the Bluebird,” a performance event for music and words.  Entry is £3, but performers get in free.  “It’s a lot like catweazle, but with wine and food, “ said Chris.  He’s planning a tapas night with easy to eat tapas (£2.50-£4.00) and sharing platters. There will also be a discount on house wine, the “Baron de Baussac,” Carignan, ‘Vielles Vigne,’ an easy to drink fruity red will drop to £3.50 a glass, £10.00 for a 500ml carafe, and £13.50 a bottle.

The wine menu will be changing as well. Chris lucked out when an importer of small estate Spanish wines walked into his pub. Because they are from small wineries, there is no mass produced house brand. Which means once you fall in love with a wine, and its gone, there is no guarantee the next vintage will taste the same.  The Val do Xuliana Albarino is one such wine. It’s got a wonderful fresh flavour, full of citrus and tropical fruits. It’s a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc and for £22.50 for the bottle, an absolute bargain.

Future Wine Events:

28 Sept.  7PM –  S H Jones, Cellar Shop, Tramway Road, Banbury will host a “Tour of France Wine Fair” for £5, visit http://www.shjoneswines.com/EventDetail/75997/Tour-of-France-Wine-Fair