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Thursday Night Club - 27th Aug - unknown grapes and tenuous drinking excuses!

Gallina de Piel 'Ikigall' 2019 by David Seijas, Penedes, Spain. On the hunt for a refreshing white, our drinker leaned on the knowledge of his local wine merchant to recommend something summery, very good and a bit different. Well it is certainly something a bit different! It is the project of former El Bulli sommelier David Seijas and is an unusual blend of Xarel-lo (85%) Malvasia (10%) and Muscat (5%). It is very Albarino-esque showing fresh citrus and herby notes of fennel and at a very drinkable 11.5% abv. Great to try something new, and definitely a well made wine, although would probably look for something with a bit more fruit depth next time. The Tasting Rooms, East Grinstead £18

Drinker number 2 had just been caught in a rain storm and taken a rather undignified fall from her bike (nothing to do with the wine at lunch or the facetiming of the boyfriend we have been assured!!) so needed a real vinous pick-me-up. This was the L’Hurluberlu Cabernet Franc from the Loire (vin de France and seemingly NV) a really unusual but absolutely delicious natural wine made with minimal intervention, carbonic maceration (the intracellular fermentation that gives a super fruity, very low tannin, juicy character to the wine) and had a slight petillance. It would have been perfect slightly chilled as the tannins were so light, but none the less it was an absolute joy to drink; bright, fresh and laden with crunchy red fruit (no stemminess or greenness to be seen). An absolute win. Forrest Wines £18

A generous gift from an unknown source this is Keira Knightley’s wine, the Cinq Puits 2015, Ventoux, France. Overseeing the vines and the winemaking are their neighbours Luc and Sandrine Guenard of Chateau Valcombe. A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan it is a bold, ripe, richly fruited wine that is really rather good. Would certainly look to buy it again. However, were you to imagine Keira Knightley as a wine, it would not look like this! The Wine Society, approx. £19

Stumping all the wine professionals in the club with a brand new grape, this couple were drinking the Deltetto Servaj Favorita 2018 from Langhe in Piedmonte … a surreptitious google search revealed it to be a relation of the Vermentino and Pigato grapes found almost exclusively in Piedmonte. Fresh and bright with citrus and apple, but with a richness and density to it that would suggest it would really come into its own with food. A new one to us all, and one they would buy again to have with food. Morrish and Banham of Dorchester £16.99

Usually under the strict direction of his girlfriend when it comes to wine choices, this drinker has broken free for the night and picked up his wine with the dine in for 2 deal at M&S. Expectations weren’t particularly high, but he went for the Raso de la Cruz Tinto from Northern Spain and there was little information on the bottle beyond ‘local Spanish grapes, old vines, no oak’. However he was very pleasantly surprised when he opened it. Lots of blackberry fruit, some morello cherry and a herby, thyme note, it was really good value for an easy drinking, mid-week quaffing wine. M&S £8

This drinker decided to celebrate the removal of the quarantine restrictions coming back from Portugal (seriously, any excuse for your wine choice is whole heartedly embraced here!). This is the Amoras 2017, Lisbon, Portugal and is a blend of indigenous grape varieties. The wine is really good, smooth, rich and fruity with lashings of dark blackberry fruit. Highly quaffable. Laithwaites £9.50

From a quaffable every-dayer to a serious heavy weight. Our next couple have been working hard to support those in need with their wine drinking (as have we all) and of late have drunk an inordinate amount of South African wine. This time its our friends in California who need our support with the horrific wild fires once again ripping through the region. Raising a glass in solidarity with them, they opened the delicious Ridge Geyserville 2011, Alexander Valley in Sonoma, California. Having lived there for some time, and visited this iconic winery they were excited to see how this vintage has developed. The upfront fruitiness and vanilla has softened into a beautifully complex wine showing sage brush and juniper supported by beautiful raspberry fruit. Drinking perfectly now. Currently available from Amps Fine Wine Merchants, current vintage 2016, £40

Returning to Portugal, this time celebrating the first ever Portuguese win of a MotorGP (like I said, no excuse is too tenuous!!) I opened the Nieupoort Rotulo Tinto, 2017, Dao, Portugal. The Dao was a huge delight to me when I visited in 2011 due to its altitude, granite soils and cooler climate. The wines were precise, pure and vibrant. This wine is from maverick winemaker Dirk Nieupoort who is more known for his Douro winery, but recently managed to purchase some organic vineyards in the Dao, a region he has also long rated. It is an old vine blend of local varieties Alfrocheiro, Jaen (Spain’s Mencia) and Touriga Nacional. The nose has an earthy richness like dark soil after the rain and leads to a palate showing soft black briar fruits. The tannins however are so light and the finish is so moreish with that classic granitic, saline finish that it is incredibly drinkable. I had no problems drinking it without food but it definitely would have enjoyed the company of meat. Excellent value from the Wine Society at £12.50


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