Updated: Jun 9, 2020
Every Thursday a motely crew of wine lovers meet up on zoom to taste wine – a fine (if ill disguised) excuse to have a glass or two. The rules are simple: you open any wine you want, at any price point and we go around the ‘table’ introducing the wine with as much or as little detail as you like. It is relaxed, fun and open to anyone to join, just drop me a line and I’ll include you in the invitation.
This week’s line up was a show case of the weird and wonderful:
Chateau Dereszla Tokaji Dry Furmint 2015 from Hungary. A very left field white wine to start the evening, as this is a region usually over-looked for its dry wines in favour of the famous botrytised sweet wines. Furmint is undoubtedly the king of grapes in the region. The wine is brimming with character; vibrant grapefruit, rich apple and spice. The acid is very bright, an attribute that makes it so prized in sweet wines but also makes it both refreshing and a great food partner. It made a really nice change to the usual white suspects and excellent value to boot. Armit Wines, current vintage is 2016 and is £9.46 reduced from £11.72
Another excellent value and unusual wine, the Aranleon Solo Bobal 2017 from Utiel Requena in Spain was next up. This was recommended in the Wine Society newsletter by the Spanish buyer and despite not having heard of the grape variety, they decided to give it a trial run. It really opened up throughout the evening with lush, soft red fruit. It also has strong organic and sustainable credentials which is important. This might be the first Bobal experience, but it certainly won’t be the last as they intend to explore the grape variety more as a result. This is highly recommended by more than 1 member of Thursday Night Club so if you haven’t tried it yet, make sure you go and get your Bobal on! The Wine Society £9.50
Mont Rubi Durone Sumoll 2008, Penedes, Spain. Asking the local wine merchant for a wine with a story, they were recommended this highly unusual Spanish red. This is the heartland of Cava production, but they also produce some exception reds this blend of Sumoll, Garnacha and Carinena being one of them. Sumoll is an obscure red grape indigenous to Penedes and can be used in cava. Showcased as the dominant grape in this red, it is powerful, with firm tannins and rich dark fruit, subtle notes of leather and plenty of white pepper spice. A really interesting wine, though perhaps not the ideal partner with tonight’s salmon…! Jeroboams £19.99
For the next TNC drinker it was a two bottle night (go big or go home right… oh wait…) First up 6 local Dorset oysters demanded some fizz. The Castillo Perelado Brut Reserva from Penedes has been their house sparkling since about 2011 when they tried it at the reopening of London’s Spanish restaurant Iberica. These guys also make sparking wine for the Spanish royals so if its good enough for them… this is just £4.99 from Decantalo.
Next on the menu is steak so they opened the Honoro Vera Garnacha 2018 from Calatyud in Spain. This is a new wine they haven’t tried before, but it seems they picked well! It has a delicious velvety entry, the palate is rich yet surprisingly fresh with a lovely herbaceous finish. Garnacha/Grenache around the world is really coming into its own. Generally seen as a blending grape adding alcohol and fruit to the wine, in the right conditions it is showing itself as a gorgeous, juicy, silky and complex wine. This is also from Decantalo and is £5.85. Decantalo ship directly from Spain and Portugal hence the excellent prices, but there is a minimum spend of 400 euro. I feel a TNC group order arriving with them shortly.
Moving away from Spain we hopped over to California for the Sobon Estate Rocky Top Zinfandel 2014 from Amador County. This was part of the cellar plan from The Wine Society, and though not generally a fan of Zin – often finding it too sweet – as chilli con carne was on the menu it seemed the right time to take it for a test drive! This was a pleasant surprise, rich and fairly tannin with raspberry and blackberry fruit. Despite its age it was still looking fresh and youthful. This just shows the importance of where the grapes are grown. These vines are grown at altitude in the Sierra foothills so altitude encourages excellent retention of acid, and the cooler temperatures result in a longer, slower ripening period allowing for the development of complex aromatics. No wonder this was so different from the sweeter, simple valley floor examples that have given the grape a bad name. The Wine Society £16
Last up was yet another curve ball. The Continental Platter Semillion 2019 from Margaret River in Australia. Its lockdown, and a number of us are verging on going feral, so I decided in celebration of this return to nature, I’d try a natural wine. This is a biodynamic, unfiltered, unfined beauty. A very hands off approach to winemaking and a pitch perfect 11% abv is combined with an explosion of flavour on the palate. At first it’s a hit of greengage and lime pith, which swiftly leads to a textural peach palate followed by a blast of grapefruit acidity and a hint of mint – it is a real lip smacker. Evidently this is a great summer day refreshment, but the test came with the hot and sour chicken and prawn noodle soup. At first taste it just about stacks up, but just when you are about to dismiss the paring the wine leaps into action with a burst of ripe, juicy, yellow peach and pure lemon and the finish just keeps on going. Awesome, unusual, exciting and an absolute bargain. Philglas and Swiggot £12.95