I've been away for a little more than three weeks, making the most of someone else's summer, trying in vain to keep the sorrow and relative darkness of another Perth winter at bay. En route a flyover Iraq and the floodplain of the two great rivers. One of the birthplaces of agriculture, cities and civilisation. A few days after my arrival I had the chance to see the exquisite Nimrud wall panels in the British museum. 2700 years old, they tell the tale of war (with Syria), religion and plunder.

I don't usually taste wine that reminds me of jam; it's not a positive in my mind, it means things have been taken too far and left for too long. Of course they can charm and disarm, but ultimately I (now) want something less sweet and attention seeking.

Polished, bold and full, with a rum and raisin nose. Unusually sour to open and then overly sweet in the middle. Jam.  Mulberry. The tannins are better, smooth and fine, but the shape and volume seem wrong. It's round and loud and confected.

I guess it's a form of obsession, the ability to picture and taste a particular meal again and again long after the actual event. For me it happens only a few times a year, curiously and in contrast to my wine flashbacks it's often something humble that I then tinker with, trying in vain to recreate.

In April I had a plate of baby vegetables on a bed of chickpeas. The puree was much milder than a hummus (cumin free presumably) and was served with a cheek of lemon and dukkah.

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Still deep and dense with conflicting seams. It's very worthy and still with time on its side. Evocative - ginger spice and leather boots; smooth and large, inky, meaty, slightly sweet and long. For me it's admiration without affection. I've a bottle left which I'll keep (2024 perhaps?) for curiosity. Before.

The wine was secondary to the meal.

I've been reading travel guides, I figure it's a necessary chore if I'm to be prepared. The more I read the more I realise how generic and unsuitable they are. A mass of facts, superficial and with little linkage and meaning.

While reading about the Louvre, I did come across a description of a particular copy of King Hammurabi's codex engraved on a 225cm x 55cm thumb of black stone. 282 rules giving insight into a society long gone. It's something I hope to see soon. . .

Very little has changed since 2008. It is still delicious, stylish and true, and clearly with many years before it is done. Deeply scented with tobacco and blackcurrant, vanilla and herbs. It's swollen and smooth in the mouth, vanilla and cream, cassis and something savoury. . . roasted nori perhaps. . .

I've grown fussier and harder to please, but I still find this just as endearing and suave.

Cork. 13%. Cabernet 51%, Merlot 47%.

Suburban Thai. The parking is good, and the pace and decor relaxed, though some of the prints on the wall are starting to fade and buckle. There's a pleasing lack of pressure and pretence. By seven thirty the room is full and the BYO booze is starting to flow (I approve of the well shaped glasses). The fried foods are convincing, but the curries seem attenuated in spice and freshness and I found some of the savoury dishes too sweet.

Both from 2013.

Oranje Tractor Albany Riesling. 10.5%. The nose is quiet, though perhaps the wine has been over chilled. . . It's bright and sappy, a green bean edge, with adolescent phenolics. . . there's something that reminds me of tea leaf and maltose. It's curious, though I'm not completely convinced.

La Violetta ü. 13.6%. Gewurtz / Riesling / Pinot gris. A very clever hybrid. . . This is much more exuberant and expressive - lychee, fabric softener, pear and perfume. . .