#23: Syria

Year: 2010
Grapes: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc
Producer: Chateau Bargylus
Alcohol: 14%
Source: Bottle Apostle, Clapham

We are standing too close together. It’s a closeness that could be smothering; I can feel him breathing. We are so locked together that it’s impossible to move without him knowing. Each arc of my arm, each turn of my body or slide of my leg is tangled around him in an intricate pattern that has been choreographed and signalled well ahead of time to allow us to move in complex circles around each other, twisting and turning but never (rarely) colliding. We have to be coordinated, but I don’t know the moves. I have to trust him to lead, I have to allow him to control me. It’s daunting and exhilarating. I hand myself over to him.

Oh, I love dancing; I always have. I don’t know that I’m very good at it, but I do love it so!

It was something that I really discovered at university when I would dance to anything and everything. I used to go to cheesy themed nights with my medic friends, dancing to 80s anthems and singing along to power ballads. I’d go to basement clubs and dive into the mosh pit, thrashing around as the sweat dripped from the ceiling. I’d pretend I was super cool at the drum and bass raves, hanging out behind the DJ booth and dancing on and on forever and ever. I’d follow the fake tan, shiny shirt and shiny shoe masses to the student union and dance to the Baywatch theme and Insomnia. I found a club that had a weekly funk night, which was just incredible. Damn, I had a good time at university!

But as I’ve got older (old?), I no longer have the stamina or desire to dance in clubs like this nearly as often. They’re too noisy and sweaty and crowded. Anyway, I’ve found a better way to dance!

Chris and I started salsa lessons in January last year and went regularly for around 6 months. Then, sadly, the long days of my ITU rotation got in the way and it took us nearly a year to restart, but I’m so glad that we did.

I’d forgotten how much fun dancing can be, particularly when you’re dancing an increasingly complex routine that just flows. Spinning and turning under direction, feeling like I might spin out of control while still being easily brought back into line by my dance partner. Learning to be led was a bit of a challenge if I’m honest, but it all became much easier when I stopped trying to guess ahead what my partner was doing and just followed. It’s so much fun!

And now we’re good enough and know enough ‘moves’ to go to salsa clubs and they are brilliant! They too are noisy and sweaty and crowded, but they feel more controlled and elegant. There’s direction to dancing and discreet individual partners, rather than a heaving mass of people. There’s also a refreshing level of consent when dancing with a new partner – you are invited to dance by each new person and then there’s a huge amount of mutual feedback necessary from the tactile improvisation of the dance in order for it to work, and this is a million miles away from the awkward shuffle of largely unwanted attention behind and around you at regular clubs. We also get to watch the others dance, and they are wonderful! In a similar way to the joy I felt watching the jivers at the Rivoli Ballroom, there’s a particular wonder to watching people dance who really know what they’re doing. It’s just magical!

The best thing about Bar Salsa, the salsa club that we’ve been to in Central London, is one particular other dancer. An old man of about seventy who dances with all of the women. He was clearly once a fabulous dancer but age has shortened his steps and given him a somewhat shuffling gait, but he can definitely still dance. Barely moving, he leads his partners in circles around him. It’s extraordinary and wonderful to watch.

I have only tried dancing with him once, and it soon became clear that I was not good enough. Not nearly!

Not yet anyway…

Wine Info

This wine was described by the Telegraph as ‘the world’s most dangerous wine‘ and I’d strongly recommend reading the article from that link – the fact that they avoid war and Islamic extremists to make such a delicious wine is wonderfully heroic!

The producer’s website describes the wine as having ‘mineral aromas with distinct notes of lime and mint.’ The taste is a ‘frank attack, opulent on the palate followed by a pleasant acidity…[with a long finish that has] great finesse and freshness.’

Wine Verdict


Oh my, this was delicious! Really, really wonderful. Pale yellow with a rich, delicate aroma, it was clearly a superior class wine from the start. The taste managed to perfectly ride the line between vibrant and delicate, and it’s creamy softness was full bodied without being heavy. It was mellow and exceedingly drinkable.
Is it a perfect 10? Could be, could be. I’m hedging my bets with sneaky half mark in case there are more wonderful wines to come, but I suspect this will be the top white!

9+/10, such a good wine


Wow, the smell of this wine! It smells fresher and more vibrant than any we’ve had during the challenge, and I would have happily buried my nose in it for hours…if it hadn’t also been delicious. There’s just enough oak to make it soft and buttery, without it being close to the dominant flavour, and the balance between the rich sweetness of the stone fruits and the clear, dry, minerality that runs through it is also perfect.

The closer we got to the bottom of the bottle, the sadder I was that at some point I’d have to stop drinking it. It’s one of those wines that just puts a big smile on your face, and I want more…please! 



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