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The Reform Club Wine Pool dinner

To start, a couple of white wines then with the starter(!), Mas de Daumas Gassac, Vin de Pays de l'Hérault 2001 is showing spectacularly well with lots of brambly fruit. Definitely Cabernet but quite plummy at the same time, it fills out the mouth with a lovely warm fruitiness and has quite a dense structure: a meal in itself.

With lamb (the main course) the Bastide Blanche, Bandol 2000 "Estagnol" started out a tannic brute when opened and decanted a couple of hours beforehand but by the time it was served it had softened a lot allowing the fruit to come forward (it makes me want to try the "Fontanieu" again to see how it's shaping up). It has that elegance that mature, ripe French Mourvèdre does so well. The high point of the evening wine-wise, though, has to be Beaucastel's 2000 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, very rich and complex: an experience rather than a myriad of flavours and structural elements.

With the trio of desserts, the fortified red Rasteau Vin Doux Naturel from Domaine des Côteaux des Travers provided a delightful alternative to Port, well-received by the diners who were all keen to experience something new and interesting. I'm still not convinced these wines really go with chocolate but as one of my neighbours at the meal said, what's the point in trying to find a wine to go with something that really doesn't need it?

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