Illustration: Daisy Leeson

Wime Reviews: Rowan Ireland is the Oxford Blue’s wine reviewer. Join him weekly as he works his way through the wines’ of the world, or on Fridays at 8pm when he will invite you to sit with him and listen to his impressions of different Classic FM presenters.

Z de Thienpont, Bordeaux, 2012: Majestic £6.99 (mix 6)

Rowan’s tasting notes:

On the nose: Remember, smells can be deceiving. That guy who smells incredible? He’s a jerk.

On the palate: Have you ever cut a Ping-Pong ball in half and licked the inside? Why don’t you give it a try.

Pair with: A different, nicer bottle of wine.

Score: A low score. I didn’t enjoy this wine.


I must say, I am trying. I am trying just so hard.

I wake up in the mornings – admittedly later than I should. I do my day time chores, wander through the empty house, pulling dust sheets off furniture to see what’s underneath. Finding odd rooms of wardrobes, chairs, plaster casts of sculptures. I pass the time shooting pheasant from a window.

But to retire to the cellar in the evening, after an early dinner, and to brush the dirt from such an ancient bottle. To jam my pocket knife into the cork and draw it from the bottle’s neck. To take a long sip from the bottle

And to find a wine that tastes like this.

The indignity of it all.

So I walk back upstairs. Closing the bookcase-cum-hidden door and step into the library.

“Where the fuck is everyone?” I scream at a painting of some batty ancestor.

Isolation presses the bottle back into my arms and I sip again, this time with one of those curly straws that are impossible to wash. That nostalgic bubbling starts, a polyphonic outcry of Bordeaux against blue-tinted plastic. But still the wine yields no hidden layer. No yoke.

I return to my chair by the fire. A day has passed and I have managed to nab several more small-game birds for dinner in my clearly made up stately home. And now I am returned to the wine, bow-tie trailing down my chest. My jacket fell off several rooms away – I’ll have to get a new one.

This is a lovely wine, pure, balanced, kind and gentle. Damned only by the fact that I simply don’t like it.

I want to be told that it tastes like leather so that I can agree but I sit alone, the fire my only companion. The crunckleling* logs and I together, against the world. I pour a small toast into the flames, and then a larger one. At this point I am seven rooms away from just pouring it down the sink.

The fire swallows diligently. Perhaps its tastes are more refined than mine, and seeing that I am less eager – like someone who turns up to a party without a drink – the flames try to grab my glass. But I beat at them with a damp mop. Though I do not love this wine, I’ll be damned before I hand a full glass to someone else.

“Rowan? Rowan! You’re dreaming. Rowan! Wake up!”

I awake, the summer sun shining through breezy white curtains. “W… wh… where am I?”

“May, 2019, Silly. Where did you think you were?”

“I’ve had the most terrible dream. You were there, and my friends – and the person reading this. And there was this virus. And… and… I had to write wine reviews. Oh, it was horrible.”

“Well. You’re okay now. Safe and sound. No need to worry about wine reviews or viruses. Since its trinity term of 2019 and we are at university; why don’t we go for a punt? Goodness knows where we will be next year!”

“Goodness knows.”

*To crunckle: possessing both crunchy, and crackly characteristics

Rowan Ireland is a 2nd year Fine Artist at The Queen’s College.

Rowan Ireland

Rowan Ireland is The Oxford Blue's wine reviewer in exile. A fan of everything, Rowan wakes up with the dawn screaming, and enjoys long walks around his hometown on a remote mountainous island north of England. When he isn't writing wime reviews he can't be found.