Oddbins’ troubled and rollercoast fate over the past decade or so seemed to be finally be sealed when the company collapsed in 2011. Much lamented, there was some surprise and joy when Whittalls Wine Merchants announced that they had bought the trading name and 30-odd stores, and Oddbins would rise from the ashes once again. Today the stores appear to be thriving and to have regained some of their wine nerdy swagger. Oddbins trades online at oddbins.com, with its stores mostly in London and Scotland, but there’s a complete list at oddbins.com/ourstores.
Atma, White Wine 2012, Greece
Made by Apostolos Thymiopoulos in the central Greek mainland, this is a blend of the native Malagouzia (70%) and Roditis (30%) that weighs in with a featherweight 12% alcohol. It seems to me that it could well be Greece’s white wines that are its aces in the pack – especially those from the islands, but also wines like this. It is a powerfully aromatic, floral and ripe pear-scented wine that has some delicately herbal and exotic aspects that remind me of Torrontés and Gewürztraminer. It bursts with fruit and flavour on the palate, a piercing note of green-streaked acidity bracing the wine, and leading to a crisp, clean and elegant finish with a hint of sweetness in the background. 87/100. £10.00, Oddbins.
Jules Billaud, Chablis 2011, France
Made for Oddbins by Chablis ace winemaker Samuel Billaud, and bottled under then name of his eldest son, Jules. The colour is a youthful green, and the wine has a modest 12.5% alcohol. Aromas are ultra pure and fresh, with a crisp, sappy green edge to crunchy apple fruit and a burgeoning sense of more tropical, more exotic sweet fruit aroma. On the palate it is ultra fresh too, though there is a certain textural roundness to this, that sweetness of the fruit quite full, but it is the core of steely acidity that drives on, leaving the finish lip-smacking, dry and moreish. Crying out for fish and shellfish. 90/100. £14.50, Oddbins.
Semeli, ‘Feast’ Agiorgitiko 2012, Greece
Greece’s Agiorgitiko (or St George) grape is one of its hero red varieties, and this wine from Nemea in the Peloponnese peninsula is fresh and relatively light with only 12.5% alcohol. It has a bold cherry/purple colour and attractive aromas that are at once cherry-bright and fruity, and gently earthy and sappy, not a million miles from a quality Beaujolais. A little cedar and spice suggests some ageing in older barrels perhaps. On the palate it does seem a touch lean, a touch underpowered, but that spicy cherry fruit and that green-tinged, olive character gives some real pleasure. 86/100. £8.50, Oddbins.
Cillar de Silos, Ribera del Duero Crianza 2009, Spain
I’ve recently awarded the little brother of this wine, The Joven, my Wine of the Week with a full video review. Made from Tempranillo and aged 13 months in French oak, this dramatically dark, saturated wine has such a glossy pool of deep black fruit that you could dive right in. There’s a sheen of oak, a touch of roasted chestnut and a little hint of chocolate too. In the mouth it is a big, substantial wine, with 14% alcohol and a broad texture, it fills the mouth with savoury black fruits that are juicy and tangy, blueberry and damson as well as cassis. The spice and suppleness of the tannins is a joy, the acidity fresh and appetising, in a long, structured wine that must surely have significant cellaring potential too. 93/100. £15.50, Oddbins.