Updated: Jun 9, 2020
Touted as ‘better and wetter’ than Fight Club (albeit by me), how did the inaugural Thursday Night Club, a virtual wine tasting group stack up? Pretty damn well would be the answer!
The one thing I have really missed in the last month of lock down is presenting wine. Usually I would be hosting tastings, masterclasses or wine dinners two or three times a week and I miss introducing new wines to people; watching the moment they light up and ‘get’ a wine, whether it is the taste or the story, or more likely a combination of the two.
Recognising the logistical difficulties of trying to get everyone with the same wines in front of them to host a virtual tasting, I decided on a more informal approach – a forum to share the wine you are drinking at home with others, to swap stories and anecdotes and to just enjoy some relaxed wine banter. The group ranged from wine professionals to self-declared novices and was exactly the kind of easy going, laughter filled wine sharing occasion I had hoped it would be.
Obviously with a socially distant, non-violent, vinous form of Fight Club I won’t name names, but here are the wines that we were enjoying together, and where to source them.
First up was the Domaine Sylvain Pataille Bourgone Aligote Champs Forey 2017, from Burgundy (The Wine Society, £24). Aligote is a rare, oft over looked white grape from Burgundy, but is capable of producing some exceptional wines, often at (slightly) more reasonable prices than their chardonnay counterparts. Having had a bottle on a glorious day up a mountain skiing, they had been trying to find a great example available in the UK (the Nicolas Rossignol Aligote they had enjoyed skiing was not). This was a trial bottle of a single vineyard Aligote from a young but highly rated producer based in Marsannay… the order for a full case is already in!
Next up was the lovely, pale dry Minuty Rose from Provence (available for delivery from Majestic, £17.99). A deliciously moreish wine perfect for the glorious weather that we had enjoyed that day, and again a happy memory of sharing a bottle of this wine up a mountain skiing with friends and family instigated the opening of this bottle.
In next was the Saurwein Chi dry Riesling, from the cool region of Elgin in South Africa (available for delivery from Swig Wines, £24) a delicious dry Riesling with all the vibrancy, purity and energy that this grape has in spades. Made by a German woman in South this was the perfect accompaniment to the glorious summer-like weather, and the fresh fish delivered by the fishmonger to the door. Interestingly this is one of very few Rieslings made in South Africa, a rare and exciting find.
The only red wine in the nights line up came in the form of the Vina Cubillo Crianza 2011 Rioja from renowned producer Vina Tondonia (shipped directly from Spain by Decantalo, 12.95 Euro). Huge lovers of Spanish and Portuguese wines, they had visited Rioja on a shoe string budget some time ago and had fallen in love with the wines of the region, and particularly from this producer who they were lucky enough to visit on that trip.
The Camel Valley Atlantic Dry White 2017 was introduced to us next, and is a blend of Pinot Blanc and Bacchus (bought from the winery, but they do ship, £13.95). A perfectly timed English wine, in a week celebrating Great English Wine. A failed attempt to visit the winery (a 2 hour bicycle ride there only to find them closed), did not deter them, a return visit was arranged (by car and having checked opening times) and among an array of impressive sparkling wine, this excellent, crisp still white was discovered.
The final wine was the Teruzzi and Puthod Rondolino Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2018, Tuscany (Waitrose, £9.79) a gorgeous, fruity, unoaked white wine from Tuscany, inspired by an annual family pilgrimage to the region on holiday. It is not a wine that you see all that regularly, and it is a beast to pronounce when ordering off a wine list, but as with so many Italian gems, it is worth the effort.
So many of the wines were chosen due to the wonderful memory associations, particularly of the holidays where they had been enjoyed. Even more pertinent as so many holidays have had to be cancelled. Luckily we are able to live vicariously through our sense of smell and taste which has the ability to transport us back to where the beautiful memories were made, and those wines first tasted.
If you want to join in this weeks TNC at 7pm, contact me with your email address and I will add you to the invitation.