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Thursday Night Club - 23rd July - drinking for a cause

I have been speaking quite a bit about supporting the South African wine industry on Instagram as, yet again, domestic sales of alcohol have been prohibited in an effort to free up hospital beds for COVID patients. The impact on the industry will be catastrophic for many. They are however, allowed to export, so I am doing my bit to drink as much South African wine as possible to keep their exports thriving. I was touched how many Thursday Night Clubbers saw my posts and brought a South African wine to the table.

First up the Meerlust Chardonnay 2018, Stellenbosch, South Africa. I have previously presented the delicious Meerlust Rubicon to the group, talking about their work for social equality and black empowerment. Their taste buds and social consciences piqued, this couple decided to buy a selection of Meerlust wines. Not usually oaked chardonnay fans, this is a really classy chardonnay, well balanced and fresh. It particularly came into its own when paired with pork scratchings as its quite a bold wine to drink without food. They would definitely give it many points! Philglas & Swiggot £22.95 (discounted as part of a mixed Meerlust case)

Hoisting the South African flag high, we have the Painted Wolf Peloton Red 2015, Coastal South Africa. It is a ‘cape blend’ of Pinotage, Shiraz, Mouvedre, Cinsault and Grenache. A keen cyclist, this was bought as a gift for all his cycling buddies, with a few bottles left for himself. Painted Wolf winery are also strongly into conservation, particularly for the African wild dog, or the painted wolf as it is known. It is always to great to enjoy a drink knowing that you are also doing good in the wider world. It calls to mind his favourite artists, Olly and Suzi who paint and photograph in the wild and are avid conservationists. The wine is a well-made, lightly oaked red that would be great on a relaxed Sunday with red meat. The Wine Society £9.95, current vintage 2018.

Stormy Cape Chenin Blanc 2019, Western Cape, South Africa. Determined to buy a South African wine for TNC, but in hindsight a French wine shop was probably not the best option! Having left the buying a touch late, it was the only option, and though it is fruity and perfectly drinkable it is nothing to write home about. Nonetheless it is still supporting the industry and every bottle helps. Nicolas £10

Ataraxia Chardonnay 2015, Hemel en Aarde Valley, South Africa. I have had a long love affair with Ataraxia, a stunning winery in the aptly named ‘Heaven and Earth Valley’ near Hermanus. This is a cool region where the mountains meet the ocean creating a unique microclimate that is perfect for elegant, complex and poised Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Winemaker Kevin Grant is one of life’s true gentleman; humble, passionate and incredibly talented. I have so many memories associated with this wine – visiting the winery, a road trip to the karoo with a case in the car, and special romantic dinners back home reminiscing about our adventures over a bottle. The 2015 is drinking absolutely beautifully and you would be hard pushed not to say it was Burgundy blind. Vibrant citrus and a cool vein of chalky minerality is beautifully balanced by the subtle baked apple, smoke and sweet brown spice. It is achingly elegant and a wine to savour. Vinum £22.65

El Bombero Garnacha 2019, Carinena, Spain. Determined each week to bring a new grape variety to the table, this is a wine that is usually one of their favourites for winter, but with the rack running low, it made an appearance tonight! A big punchy, full bodied red with great colour, rich fruit and smoky oak. Despite the 15% abv the finish is still fresh, making the wine powerful but smooth. As it is ‘no-food-Thursday’ (his wife is out on Thursday’s) this is paired with chili crisps… and actually the spice goes really well with the rich fruit and smooth velvety tannins! Laithwaites £9.99

Mas de Daumas Reserve de Gassac 2019 Rose, Pays d'Herault, Languedoc. Selected with care to ease the current hangover and to bring back memories of working harvest their 3 years ago. Damn hard work but each day the lunch tables were set out under the tree and they would crack open bottles of wine to quench their thirst before heading merrily back to work. For someone with a hangover to declare it smashable, this has to be one of the most drinkable rose’s going! Les Cave de Pyrene £9.45

Vesevo Beneventano Falanghina 2019, Campania, Italy. This week the family were meant to be in Sardinia on holiday but it was cancelled, so they will instead live vicariously through some delicious Italian wines! This is a really delicious wine; fresh and mineral driven with apple and citrus fruit. It is not the type of wine you drink on holiday bring home and realise you need to be in 30 degree heat amid the lemon groves to enjoy it. This puppy is for life not just for holiday. Purchased from Morrish and Banham, Dorcester, also available from Vinum £11.35

Patrick Javillier Bourgogne Cuvee Oligocene 2012, Burgundy. Tonight he was set to impress - his final bottle of the Cuvee Oligocene. Patrick Javillier is a fabulous producer from Meursault and he makes two ‘bourgogne blanc’s’ with the majority of the grapes coming from his Meursault vineyards. The Oligocene is from the south of Meursault and in a more Puligny Montrachet style; racy, fresh and serious. With 8 years bottle age it has developed a richer expression with stone fruit and citrus. It is drinking at its peak now. Though expensive for a simple Bourgogne, it is excellent value for the quality of wine you are getting. Private Cellar (2016) £28, BBR (2017) £29.50

Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina del Sannio 2018, Campania, Italy. It was the first trip into London in 4 months, so took the excuse to stop off at the Connought Cellars for a bottle or two. This is a high, lush area of Campania but the wines had fallen out of fashion, but this producer was one of those pioneering their come back by seeking out the best terroir to plant it. Richly textured thanks to time spent on lees, it has a fresh citrus core balancing the more rounded nectarine and peach flavours. Connaught Cellars £17

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