- A dreamed for picnic did not go to plan. This was one of those rare occasions where I really did have a reason to write to the company. View large

Dear Sir,

I have long held a simple desire.

We live near a number of grounds where district cricket is played. Over a number of years I have said "We really should make a picnic and go and watch the cricket. It would be very cooth."

Well, just before Christmas we did it.

I made chicken sandwiches, packed some vanilla slices, a punnet of strawberries, a thermos of hot water, tea bags and coffee...and a chilled bottle of Minchinbury White Seal Private Cuvee.

We, the Newbery ensemble, headed to Wattle Park, found a possie, laid out the blanket, distributed sandwiches and generally prepared ourselves for a pleasant couple of hours of say 'Oh, well done old chap. Ripping shot, what? Damned fine batsman, that Abercromby."

All that remained was to open the Minchinbury.

Eyes popped, veins swelled, small arteries in my legs ruptured, blood pressure red-lined and the cork? Well, it stayed corked. Eventually, with everyone except the cat having a go, we did get it out. With, I am happy to report, no claims against Medicare. But not a pop, not even a half-hearted 'pfffft'. This was not Grand Prix spray the crowd material.

I'd say it was a fizzer. But it wasn't. It was, as my dear wife pointed out, as flat as a dodo. As dead as a pancake. All its get up and go had got up and gone.

It didn't taste off. But as White Seals go, this one had been clubbed to death.

Any idea why?

Yours flatly,

J. Cosmo Newbery.



REPLY: Five weeks later, no answer. A less than sparkling response to a less than sparkling wine.

I rang the consumer complaint line on the bottle, got a helpful lady called Jodie who could find no sign of my letter (*sniff*) but shot me off a couple of replacement bottles after telling me that my cork had 'failed to flare'. Mrs Newbery has been telling me that for years.

In a cute PR spin, the accompanying letter said 'As a gesture of our appreciation for bringing this matter to our attention...'.