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Thursday Night Club - Drinking for the sheer damn joy of it

The best house mate in the world cooked a 4 tier lemon drizzle cake, a significant amount of which was consumed by this Thursday night clubber. So feeling a touch full of sugar she opted for something super dry and refreshing for tonight’s wine. The Bodegas Barrero ‘Gabriela’ Manzanilla sherry from Jerez couldn’t have hit the spot better. Super dry, saline and savoury yet delicate, it is the perfect wine to get the palate ready for food or to enjoy with salted nuts and jamon. This is £16.10 from Les Caves de Pyrene.

Not having nuts or jamon to hand, she had a different wine in mind to go with dinner. The Savage Red 2017 from South Africa is 100% Syrah and is a brooding, weighty food wine showing berries, spice and a savoury richness, and yet the fresh acidity is so beautiful that it gives the wine a Rhone like elegance and energy. Available from Swig / Philglas & Swiggot / Handford Wines £30

In celebration of his wife’s birthday he pulled out a special bottle. The Chateau Rol Valentin St Emilion Grand Cru 2003, Bordeaux was bought as part of a cellar plan with Bibendum and this is the final bottle in the cellar. This is one of the new breed of ‘garagiste’ winemakers springing up in St Emilion making dense, ripe, powerful wines from 5 hectares of vines. The 03, a very warm and therefore earlier maturing vintage was drinking beautiful; super intense colour, but still with energy as well as power. A really impressive wine suitable for a special occasion, and a wine that fuelled the annual birthday handstand competition. In an age range somewhere between 60 and 70 she is comfortably kicking all her children into touch on this front! Current vintage 2005, approximate £45 per bottle, available from Berry Bros & Rudd

Our next couple are pining for a summer holiday, ideally in Tuscany with incredible views and eating amazing pasta but instead they are sitting in Buckinghamshire with a bag of KP nuts. The wine is once again their escape route to the holiday they want. The beautiful Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva, Baron Ricasoli 2013, Tuscany was the wine of choice. 85% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, it is a delicious wine with rich plum and vanilla spice, silky tannins and a lovely rounded body, while the acidity adds a moreish crunchiness to it making it incredably drinkable. Current vintage 2016, The Wine Society, £24 (currently out of stock)

Having put a bottle of Austrian Gruner Veltliner in the fridge, this couple had a sudden change of heart and fancied red, so opened the Telmo Rodriguez ‘El Muvedre’ Monastrell, 2017, Alicante, Spain. This was part of a surprise mixed case from Philglas & Swiggot so a completely new wine to them and it got two very big thumbs up. Fantastic value with beautiful notes of hedgerow fruit, sage and leather, fruity but showing a restrained elegance that makes it perfect for a summers evening, although it has all the character and body to go with food as well. In short an all round winner. Philglas & Swiggot £12.50

No food Thursday (his wife is always out on a Thursday) has thankfully turned into wine club Thursday, but if he doesn’t figure out the food thing it might well end in hangover Friday. Returning to the family winery, he is drinking the Schloss Vollrads ‘Volratz 1573’ Riesling Trocken 2018, Rheingau, Germany. Bone dry and deliciously crisp, citrusy and refreshing with a slight petillance that only enhances the mineral purity. Gorgeous on a warm evening but equally a brilliant match with food (if he had any). Vinum £14

Sprinting back from the beach only to find no food (or wine) in the house resulted in a mad dash to M&S. Having planned on drinking red, all that running around required something cool, crisp and chilled. She is a fan of Chenin Blanc but doesn’t drink it all that often, but finding the Craft 3 Chenin Blanc 2019, Stellenbosch, South Africa on the shelf she decided to give it a try. Great value, pale, lively and fresh. Incredibly drinkable and would definitely buy it again was the verdict. The wine is a collaboration involving Alex Dale, the well respected winemaker at Radford Dale. Historically South African wines in our supermarkets have been mediocre at best, so it is great to see some really good quality, good value wines on the shelves. M&S £10

Last week we were drinking for a cause, one that is still vitally important – supporting the South African wine industry while domestic sales are prohibited. This wine has such a heart breaking story attached I don’t think there is a member of Thursday Night Club who won’t be rushing out to buy it. It is the Lismore Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Greyton, South Africa. Sam O’Keefe moved to South African in the 90’s and realised her dream of setting up a winery. But with 2 kids and just before her first harvest her husband upped sticks and left, leaving her to manage everything on her own. And this she did with style, grace and oodles of talent. 15 years on and her wines have achieved cult status. But tragedy was to hit again. Shortly before Christmas 2019, her house, winery, cellar and a large portion of her vineyards burned to the ground. The industry rallied round her, she took in grapes from all over the country, borrowed cellar space where ever she could so she could still make some wine, she worked with grape varieties she hadn’t worked with before but this incredibly resilient woman has weaved her magic on them as well. And now COVID strikes, another hurdle to overcome as she tries to rebuild. This wine is beautiful, rich and almost Burgundian like with incredible freshness. Pure class, just like Sam. Available from Handford Wines / Uncorked /Vinoramica £23

Everyone loves a good surprise, especially when it comes in the shape of the summer mixed case from Philglas & Swiggot, and offers up winner after winner. Tonight is the ethereally beautiful Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2018, Washington State, USA. Not only a seriously cute name and label, but also the ultimate in smashable whites. The wine is off dry but so incredibly fresh and pure it tastes dry on the finish. Aromatic, fragrant, crystalline and beautifully refreshing. Seriously, what more could you want? Philglas & Swiggot £18.50

For my wine, I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and decided to hunt down a grape I haven’t had in a long time; Sylvaner. It is a German grape with a reputation for making some seriously uninspiring wines, but the last time I had it, it was a revelation; exciting, vibrant, sherbety and intense. The example I found for TNC is Alsatian rather than German and it is excellent. The Albert Boxler Sylvaner 2017, Alsace, France shows an almost effervescent minerality that tingles on the tongue and enhances the beautiful acidity, and yet it shows a gorgeous rich body of juicy yellow peaches and a long fresh finish with a lovely savoury stony finish (think of the smell of sun warmed rocks that have just had water poured on them...and if that means nothing to you go out and try it!). Looking into the parentage of the grape it comes from Savignan and Traminer – one with amazing acidity and one with amazing aromatics. It just shows you in the right hands how much potential this much maligned grape has. The Wine Society £19.

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