January is a month for making resolutions. February is a month for breaking them — or at least modifying them in a way as makes the next 29 days a tad more tolerable. For there is little fulfilment to be found in this “nothing time” when Christmas and New Year are gone but spring is not yet come, when days are short and damp and the sun too weak to stay the chill. In such times sensible society reviews its resolutions before it loses the will to maintain them.
After a particularly relaxed and restorative Christmas (made the more so by an 80-seat Conservative majority ending two years of inertia) I swore solemnly to forgo red wine for a month. Thankfully, after nearly 31 days of ruby abstinence, the time has come to unlock the cellar.
I emerged clutching a Pernand-Vergelesses Les Fichots from Domaine Follin-Arbelet. This premier cru from 2012 is drinking wonderfully. With plenty of redcurrant to taste and a silk-like slip to the back of the throat as the ripened tannins do their work, this burgundy has profited clearly from the process of effeuillage. For those who like their nose, its brightness adds to its bouquet.
Franck Follin-Arbelet became a vigneron only in the 1990s after graduating from Montpellier but, from an old family of growers, he has vino in his veins and terroir to the tips of his toes. With nine names to his credit, all surrounding the family village Aloxe-Corton, he may not own many vineyards but he makes superb wines and is now focusing on the organic principles of growing, including hand harvesting, natural fermentation and old oaken barrels.
I always feel that red wine is better drunk in the evening — and winter evenings at that. Burning fires, bright conversation and best friends seem brighter and better with such a bottle to hand.
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