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Thursday Night Club - 25th Feb - holidaying vicariously through our taste buds and memories

I think I can safely say we are all desperate for a holiday so this week we were harking back to some favourite trips abroad.

A few years ago we went to India and the food was sublime. Though there are some very good Indian wines on the market (Sula for instance) people do tend to think Indian food should go with beer or sweeter whites. I am taking it as a personal challenge to disavow this myth. Indian food has so many faces from spicy to aromatic to smoky and as you can imagine, there is a myriad of wine styles that will compliment them perfectly, both red and white. I was cooking on the aromatic spectrum (carrot biriyani and lentil dahl) so chose a fruit rich red wine with softer tannins and lovely freshness. The Yatir Syrah 2011 from the Judean Hills in Israel is a beautiful, mature wine with black fruit, smoke, tobacco, coconut and coffee on the nose, leading to sweet confit red fruits, bramble fruit and exotic spice with a hint of apricot on the finish thanks to a splash of Viognier (aka Cote Rotie). It is definitely drinking now and I am glad I chose not to wait any longer to open it. It provided a lovely backdrop to the notes of cardamom and garam masala in the food. Kosher Wine Cellar £34.99

A Spanish adventure was waiting for us next, having ransacked the excellent Spanish food deli. They started with the Vina Gravonia Blanco 2012, Rioja, a white wine with lots of structure, great depth of nutty, oxidative flavour and good length, it was great with the prawns with aioli. After this they moved to red to compliment the slow cooked lamb, and what more classic pairing than the Vina Ardanza Rioja Reserva 2010 from esteemed producer La Rioja Alta. Such a consistent, elegant, concentrated wine. Pure class every time. The Gravonia is £23.99 from The Whisky Exchange, the Vina Ardanza is £25 from The Wine Society

Next we head to Argentina, not a country he has visited but certainly one that is on the bucket list. This is the Trapiche Costa & Pampa Albarino, 2020 from a new viticultural region in Argentina called Chapadmalal which is 6km from the Atlantic ocean which has a strong influence and might account for why the Albarino grape, who’s home is in Rias Baxias on the Spanish NW coast is proving so good. It shows delicious pear and citrus which really brings it alive and a lovely saline finish. Not available in the UK… yet.

Dreaming of home rather than a holiday, Germany is the next country on our whistle stop tour of where we wish we were. The Schloss Vollrads Kabinett Trocken 2013, Rheingau has developed into a beautiful soft, creamy, honeyed wine, still lovely and fruity with bright apple notes but it has certainly mellowed from its youthful liveliness. They also welcome visitors with open arms so it is most definitely worth putting it on your vinous wine tour to do list. £18.95 Vinum

South Africa is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world and this couple have been lucky enough to visit 3 or 4 times. They are also completely set up for tourists with excellent restaurants at many of the wineries. This is the Stellenrust Brut Spumante Magnifico Chenin Blanc, a prosecco style sparkling wine which is a lovely little sipper showing caramelised pear, a good acidity and easy drinking pleasure and just 11.5%. Not available in the UK

One of the most over looked wine regions is Madeira, which not only produces some extraordinary fortified wines, but is a dramatic and exciting island to visit. Tonight we were treated vicariously to a little flight of 3; The Blandy's Malmsey 1988, the Blandy's Terrantez 1976 and the Leacocks Malmsey 1978. Thanks to the unique production method of Madeira where it is subjected to oxygen and high temperatures as well as being a sweet fortified wine with excellent acidity it is almost indestructible and once opened will be fine for many years. If you can find them, the Madeira’s from the 1800’s are still drinking absolutely beautifully! Picking out the Terrantez 1976 (a rare Portuguese grape variety), it is joyful and exuberant with nuts, marmalade, exotic spice, balsamic notes and a flavour almost akin to aged rum. The acidity is superb and the finish insanely long. Although Maderia generally offers exceptional value, these very rare beauties do come with a price tag ranging from about £100 a bottle up to £260 for the 1976. Try Portugal or The Whisky Exchange

More of an adventure than a holiday, Bordeaux was the first time he had travelled alone when he went out to do harvest in 2011 at Grand Puy Lacoste in Bordeaux, the heart of the wine trade. Back breaking but great fun, and quite the challenge with limited to no French. Now good Bordeaux does more than bring a smile to his face, it brings back wonderful memories. And this is definitely one to take note of as its not often that you find delicious and good value Bordeaux. The Chateau Marjosse 2016 is from Entre de Mers (the less coveted area between the left and right bank) and belongs to Bordeaux legend Pierre Lurton (of Cheval Blanc fame). This is a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet and has juicy, upfront fruit with red fruits and plum. Intended for early drinking it is uncomplicated but delicious. £12.50 Farthinghoe Fine Wines

Another ‘home’ rather than ‘holiday’ but when your home is Mornington Peninsular it is understandable that the two should blur! Back home on holiday exactly 12 months ago it felt only appropriate to find a Mornington wine for TNC. Surprisingly her local wine store only had one in stock, and it was not one she had heard of. The Red Claw Pinot Noire 2019, Mornington Peninsular, Australia is made by Yabby Lake and is absolutely delicious with bright juicy fruit, less earthy than the old world Pinot's it has a beautiful freshness, purity of fruit and energy. It is dangerously drinkable and a wonderful trip back home (for her tongue at least) £25 Salusbury Wine Stores.

Our final destination of what has been a fairly comprehensible world tour is Chile. Though he hasn’t been, he is just waiting for the Lions Rugby tour to Argentina and then he will have the perfect excuse to take in both countries. Having had the Koyle wines recommended at Thursday Night Club, he bought a selection including the Cinsault which he had a few nights ago and loved, and the Koyle Cerro Basalto Garnatxa 2018 which he is drinking tonight. Thought it is a perfectly nice wine, if he is honest he was more taken with the Cinsault which also happened to be half the price. Grown on Basalt soils, the Garnacha tends to be more textural and subtle while the Cinsault is pure exuberant fruit. £14.50 The Wine Society.

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