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A Christmas market themed wine club with suitably tenuous contributions

A return to the themed tasting nights with a suitably festive ‘Christmas market’ theme, and one that send a shudder of horror through me thanks to an abiding hatred of mulled wine! But if nothing else, Thursday Night Club prides itself on the tenuous nature of the theme association and tonight would be no different!

First up the instigator of the theme, streaming live from a Swiss Christmas market (top marks for festive contribution!) and sipping on mulled wine (thank you for taking that one for the team!). and how did it fair? The conclusion is a) likely based on a cheap Rioja b) skull it fast before it cools and you can taste it. However, there is something undeniably romantically Christmasy about clutching a steaming glass and warming your hands around it.

Then we had the first of our tenuous links. She was meant to go to a Christmas market last weekend and would have taken a wine that she loved with her as she wouldn’t want mulled wine… and her wine of choice would have been this, a bright and juicy Ronsel do Sil ‘Vel ‘Uveyra’ Mencia 2018, Ribera Sacra, Spain. She is really enjoying it and Mencia is proving to be her spirit grape for 2021. She is enjoying trying different ones made in different styles. This is made in the fresher, crunchier floral style, and she has a more modern, richer style lined up next! Corking Wines £14.23

Hmm, he had forgot the theme, but clawed back a few festive points with his santa hat and tinsel, before coming up with a blinding come back ‘I’m dreaming of a white Christmas’ as he introduced the Mullineux Old Vines White 2019, Swartland, South Africa. This dream team never put a foot wrong. A complex blend from old vines of Chenin, Vermentino, Clairette, Grenache Blanc etc. Rich, warming but intense and with a lovely sense of freshness. £24 The Champagne Company

He got in late from a festive lunch, so again had to rely on his wits (and another santa hat!) to come up with a Christmasy link. He chose the Rustenberg Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Stellenbosch, South Africa as this wine was a gift from a friend and gifting is definitely something that happens at Christmas! Really lovely, bright, fresh with tropical fruits. Thoroughly enjoyable Majestic £11.99

Lessona Noah Nebbiolo 2017, Alto Piedmonte, Italy – A perfectly biblical name, and a suitably festive looking label with gold flecks… Could you find a better Christmas themed wine? Absolutely stunning, elegant, fine tannins (sandy soil) perfumed red fruit, elegant, complex, drinkable, a very memorable wine and one he would definitely buy again. Symposium £36.5

Another contender for a genuine Christmas link, a German wine because the German Christmas markets are always the best ones. The Dr Loosen Beerenauslese 2017, Mosel, Germany is a gloriously sweet wine and the Beerenauslese (classification of sweetness for desert wine used in German wines indicating late harvest and often botrytised grapes). It comes in a cute little 18.75cl bottle; honeyed with dried apricots and citrus with the lovely acidity of the Riesling grape which perfectly offsets the sweetness, absolutely delicious. 7% abv. Salusbury wine store £17

At Christmas every year he receives a mixed case of 12 wines so it seemed the perfect opportunity to open one of these Christmas presents and try a wine he is not familiar with. The Cabriz Touriga National 2017, Dao, Portugal has a robust tone, he is not picking up the ‘violet tones’, but it is a very nice medium bodied drinking wine. It is an interesting if slightly rustic intro to Portuguese wines, but he wouldn’t rush out to buy this particularly one again. Can be imported via Portugal Vineyards for £7 excluding taxes (would be approx. £10-15)

As for me? I had intended to open a German Pinot Noir to echo the best Christmas market idea, but then realised I had already drunk it. Oops. Next best thing was to come up with a winter warming red. The Feudi del Duca Susumaniello 2020, Puglia, Italy was my choice. I love this ancient grape which is only found in Puglia and is rarely seen over here. However, hats off to one of the crew tonight who had the excellent (and festive fact) that Susumaniello actually translates as Little Donkey as it used to be the work horse variety of the region. Definitely better than my tenuous Christmas association. Previous run ins with the grape were definitely in their premium and boutique form. I wasn’t sure how this one would play out but I was suitably impressed (relieved). Spiced black bramble fruit with a hint of sweet blackberry compote and lots of black pepper. Super fine silky tannins and fresh acidity holds this rich wine (14.5%) together beautifully, and it would be a great pairing with hearty winter stews. Not the longest lasting wine (flavours lingering in the mouth as opposed to how quickly I smashed the bottle) or boasting the most finesse and complexity, but highly pleasurable and a real mid-week treat. Not to mention a steal at £7.49 at Lidl.

Ollie, I hope you have started a TNC up in heaven and you are drinking along with us, we miss you down here. x

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