Olivia Marsh has been with C&B now for just over eight years. As well as heading up our merchant sales team, she has been leading an exciting new project, our first ever Wine Subscription service – C&B Odyssey. Read on to find out about her journey this year and her favourite food & wine pairings for Christmas!
Q: Tell us about you, your role at Corney & Barrow and how your focus has changed since the start of the pandemic?
I’m Olivia and I’ve been at the company since August 2012, so closing in on my 10 year anniversary! I’m Merchant Sales Manager and our team is effectively the commercial or trade side of the business. There are 20 plus of us encompassing our On Trade teams in London and regionally, the Newmarket shop, our training arm, the sales support team and finally, my side of the business which is Catering, Hospitality and Travel.
I joined as a sales support for the then known Corporate Team, helping the guys with, primarily, contract catering customers. Over the years our team, business, and I, have grown and we have branched out further into the travel world, work with more contract caterers, football clubs and large events companies. That was, of course, up until the beginning of 2020 when most of that business disappeared overnight. The same can also be said for other areas of our business, although unlike bars, restaurants and hotels, offices and the corporate world haven’t reopened (and shut again and reopened again).
Given this dramatic change it was very much ‘all hands on deck’ trying to reallocate the team to assist in other areas. We saw a huge uptake in our online services and so created a team specifically to liaise with the many brand new customers coming to us via our website in place of picking up a few bottles at the supermarket or local wine shop. Our private customer business was also very positively affected by the first lockdown, so again we teamed up with colleagues on that side of the business to assist wherever possible. Whether that was helping to send out offers, arranging orders or liaising with customers, we were on hand to support.
Personally, I have picked up a project we had originally discussed pre-pandemic (seems a million years ago now) and that has certainly kept me busy!
Q: You have been leading the new Corney & Barrow Wine Subscription service, can you tell us about it and the benefits it offers for our customers?
So, this is a project I’ve been very passionate about for some time now and I’m delighted we’ve been able to launch it this year. Although there have been some variations on this theme included in our business previously, we really saw the lockdown, and hopefully temporary new way of living, as an opportunity to offer our customers, both existing and new, a regular, hassle free wine delivery direct to their front doors every other month.
After a lot of head scratching and scribbling down of ideas on bits of paper we came up with A Wine Odyssey by Corney & Barrow as the name for our venture. The concept is very much about ease, discovery and education and we want to take our customers on a wine journey. There are two options, you can be an Adventurer or an Explorer but with both you’ll be introduced to excellent wines, exclusive to Corney & Barrow, made by some of the greatest wine producers worldwide and in many cases they will be wines you might never pick yourself.
The feedback we’ve had so far has been so positive and a few customers have already said exactly that, they’d never pick (for example) a Hungarian white themselves in a restaurant or supermarket but when trying it in one of our cases, it’s been brilliant! In addition to the bottles themselves we’ve also spent a lot of time pulling together some great extra content for all of the wines in the cases. There are specific web pages for each case, detailed tasting notes, delicious recipes and we’ve got a few other surprises up our sleeves too! All of this turns up on your doorstep every other month and you don’t even need to think – just make some room in the fridge or wine rack!
Q: Most people will be looking for ease and simplicity this Christmas, can you advise which of our mixed cases you would recommend and why?
I think our mixed cases in 2020 have been fantastic. The teams have done a huge amount of work analysing what our customers have been buying, particularly when putting together their own mixed cases, and replicated that with some superb selections on our website and in this year’s Christmas offer. The Corney & Barrow Own Label Case is always a winner at this time of year, particularly because it includes the White Burgundy from Maison Auvigue which is really lovely and super versatile.
Personally, The Christmas Comfort Mixed Case is the one I’ve got my eye on. It includes a lot of wines that we drink often at home, the Soave and Egy Kis being two of my favourite whites at the moment but the Mucchietto Primitivo is such a winner! It’s great with so many dishes, especially pizza, and it is such a comforting glass. The case also includes some really interesting varieties that are a bit off the beaten track. Given that this is going to be a slightly different Christmas for so many of us it seems like as good an opportunity as any to break from the traditional mould and try a few new things!
Q: Finally we understand you love to cook? Can you tell us some of your favourite food and wine pairings for this Christmas?
Who told you that?! I often joke that I have the most boring social media presence in the world because it’s just pictures of food and wine and that’s only when I can remember to upload them! Yes, it’s true, I really do love to cook and I am so excited about it at the moment as we have finally got our kitchen back after quite a few months of building work in our house – hence the pizza reference above! I’ve actually been dreaming about cooking again and can’t wait until things get back to normal and we can have our friends and family over for meals.
My Mum is definitely my influence here and we traditionally do a lot of cooking together over Christmas. Aside from the classic Christmas Day feast we have a fair few family traditions one of which is steak on Christmas Eve. We always have Malbec and this year it will be from Achaval Ferrer, one my faves. I love how fresh it is despite its complexity of fruit, chocolate and floral notes.
English sparkling on Christmas Day morning with smoked salmon bagels – that sounds very decadent but why not? It’s only once a year! We’ve got Breaky Bottom Cuvée Oliver Minkley for this Christmas which is just a phenomenal glass of wine. The acidity matches perfectly with the fatty nature of the smoked salmon but it’s got a lovely rich, toasty quality too and I could just drink it all day.
This year we are planning on creating a special Christmas leftovers sandwich for Boxing Day in the Italian muffulletta style. You hollow out a big round loaf and fill it with turkey, stuffing, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce, the works! We’ll likely enjoy that in the evening with a nice glass of Moulin-à-Vent from Domaine Labruyère to pair with the wide variety of flavours. Delicious!
If you would like to sign up to our Wine Subscription, please contact [email protected]