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In the latest edition of Tasting Notes, we gave a bottle of La Furtiva's Brisat Dels Arcs 2020 to Highbury Library regular, Raph, who has recently become a close friend after meeting him in the bar. He has curated a playlist of songs that remind him of holidaying in the South of France (his home country) as a teenager with his friends. The wine has a strong sense of the Mediterranean (coming from the Catalan coast) and the flavours, colour and acidity inspired these memories. The selection acts as a soundtrack to a whole day starting more chilled before heading in a synth pop and slightly clubby direction. Towards the end, the downtempo vibe reflects the 4am hang outs they would have on the beach and there are a few Arabic songs that represent his Algerian ancestry.

Our first encounter with Raph was at the Highbury Library Wine Club, where his insatiable curiosity and hunger for knowledge quickly stood out. Despite coming from a background in machine learning engineering, which relies heavily on rational and methodical thinking, Raph feels that his personality has a deep-seated draw towards a world of sensorial experiences and intuitive feelings - which is precisely what makes wine so appealing to him.

Growing up in Paris, Raph's family didn't place much emphasis on wine or music, but he remembers listening to American bands such as Green Day and Red Hot Chilli Peppers without developing a particularly deep interest. Upon moving to London as a student, he began frequenting student club nights and was introduced to electronic music at venues such as XOYO and Koko. Cheap lager was the drinking choice of the day!

After completing his degree in London, he made the move to the US to study a masters in Maths and Computing at Stanford. Here he was introduced to the Burning Man spin-off club scene around California and started DJing himself at house parties with friends. Craft beer is a particularly big deal in this part of America and it sparked an interest in Raph. This is when he began to think of alcohol as more than something you just get intoxicated with. He even dabbled with beer production himself.

Raph's older sister lives in New Orleans and one day told him about a bottle of natural wine she had drunk. This encouraged him to see what it was about and regular visits to P Franco in London, solidified his newfound love. There was something about the unexpected flavours and the concentration of fruit that felt so different to the wine he had been acquainted with previously. Landron Chartier's 'Naturlich Rouge' and Le Coste's 'Bianchetto' were particularly memorable bottles from around that time. A friend working as a chef encouraged him to enroll in the WSET program to learn more about it. He developed the ability to make sense of a shop's wine offering and understand a menu in a restaurant. This opened up a whole new world for him, leading him to work a harvest in the Loire and landing a part-time job at the Sager & Wilde bar on Hackney Road.

I went on a trip to the La Dive wine fair wit him and it's clear to see how much he embraces this new experience of developing connections, knowledge and understanding through taste, feeling and sharing. In his own words "I love that even if your tasting notes are not the same as someone else's, it still makes some kind of sense. It's just about your experience of that wine in that moment". As Raph continues to explore this new world of natural wine, we're excited to see where his passion takes him next.



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