Not only is The Oxford Wine Company being inundated with orders from private households, but having closed all of its shops, it has recently been allowed to re-open two of them. In short, we need wine!

Company MD Ted Sandbach was busy packing up orders at the company’s warehouse when we speak, and it’s all hands on deck at the Oxford wine merchants as the orders roll in on an unprecedented scale.

“It’s hard to keep up,” Ted tells me. “We had five vans full of wine leaving this morning out on delivery. And while it is more time consuming packing the boxes up, it should keep us ticking over.”

Considering 80% of the Oxford Wine Company’s business usually comes from colleges, nightclubs, hotels, restaurants and bars, this latest development has come as a real surprise and a bit of a godsend.

“We are keeping up with the orders and getting them dispatched swiftly. We even had vans leaving for London this morning,” he says.

And then Boris announced that wine merchants could re-open so Ted made the decision to only open the ones spacious enough to maintain social distancing – Botley Road and Standlake being chosen.

“They are easy to get too and park, but Turl Street, for example, is too confined so we are keeping that closed,” Ted explains.

Ted Sandbach

The Oxford Wine Cafe on the corner of Little Clarendon Street and Walton Street is also shut indefinitely.

In the meantime the home orders side of the business is booming and Ted is hopeful it will tide the company over.

“We have a warehouse full of wine and just had a big consignment of wine from France before the lockdown, so while we are now catering for a different market and clientele we are confident in our stock. We have 1500 different wines and 500 spirits to choose from.”

Considering supermarkets are selling out of wine and spirits, and people are reluctant or unable to leave their homes, this is hardly a surprise.

“I didn’t think the public would be ordering like this, in these kind of numbers,”Ted admits, “but we delighted they are and hope they will continue to do so when this is all over.”

Here are Ted’s current recommendations:

  1. Ribas Del Cua, Spain £10.99

It is time to explore the wonders of Mencia, the grape of Bierzo. This lovely wine has an intensely aromatic nose with cooked plums, cherries and subtle wood smoke. The palate is bright and juicy with hints of cinnamon and a gravel like minerality; balanced acidity and tannin, a medium bodied, excellent value for money wine! Mencia (also known as Jaen in Portugal) only grows in a small number of appellations within the Iberian peninsula. Ribas Del Cua winery was set up by three families in the 1980’s and is now run by the three leading ladies. The grapes are hand harvested, undergo whole bunch fermentation and carbonic maceration, followed by a few months elevage before being bottled and released for sale.

2) Vittorio Grazione Lambrusco, Italy £20

Vittorio’s winery, Fontana Dei Boschi are turning heads with their luscious Lambrusco! Packed with red fruit, a full satisfying creamy foam and a herbaceous dry finish. The fruit is hand harvested and the juice goes through a Traditional Method fermentation. The dry wine is aged for approximately 1 year on the lees, is disgorged and receives a dosage before being released for sale. Most Lambrusco is made using the Charmat Method (like Prosecco), but Vittorio wanted to produce something of a superior quality. A brilliant aperitif sparkling whilst nibbling at your cured meats and cheese selection…

3) Circumstance Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa £13.50

A wonderful clean and delicately aromatic white wine for any occasion. Owner of Waterkloof Wine Estate, Paul Boutinot heads an exceptional team including Nadia Barnard as head winemaker and Christiaan Loots as Farm Manager. Located in Stellenbosch above the breath-taking views of False Bay, Waterkloof practice organic and biodynamic methods with a heavy focus on sustainability throughout the company. This Sauvignon Blanc continuously acquires high acclaim recently receiving a score of 94 from Decanter. The grapes are whole bunch pressed in their basket press before a slow indigenous yeast fermentation, followed by 4 months aging on the lees, then light filtration and a minimal addition of sulphur before bottling. Voila!

Paris Barghchi, a cheese expert who also runs The Oxford Wine Company Turl Street store, chooses a favourite cheese which is available from The Jericho Cheese Company in Little Clarendon Street.

The Jericho Cheese Company

Spenwood – From The Jericho Cheese Co. £54.30 per kg.

Thermised, vegetarian ewe’s milk cheese produced by Anne Wigmore in Berkshire. This natural rind cheese is often referred to as an ‘English Pecorino’, delicious on a cheese plate and an excellent addition to dishes for that extra flavour hit. As with all Farmhouse cheeses there is seasonal variation; currently Spenwood has a rich, creamy paste with milky aromas and a fruity note that brings thoughts of sun-ripe apricots with a nutty, comforting umami finish. I have chosen Spenwood to pair with this months wines due to the balance of acidity, flavour intensity and the high fat content of ewes milk and the resulting creamy, coating texture on the palate. These characteristics will play well with the acidity of the wines and compliment the aromatics.

Spenwood is best enjoyed at room temperature.

The Jericho Cheese Company is open for local and national delivery of cheese now available – Call 01865 516000 during opening hours to discuss options and prices


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