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Domaine de Brau Cabernet Franc 2011
When some dinner guests arrived a few weeks ago, one of them said she was not drinking. Joan is a singer, and I assumed that she had to protect her voice for a recital. But I was wrong. She was abstaining because she wants to cure cancer.
Joan was spending January as a Dryathlete. In this wholly laudable scheme, run by Cancer Research UK, people go dry for the month of January and get sponsors to donate the money they would have spent on the demon drink to Cancer Research. While I am not convinced by their calculations of what you save, it’s worth supporting unreservedly.
If you do feel like taking part, you don’t have to do it until next January. Phew!
To celebrate, you could try one of the wines that Dryathlete Joan had to forego. Henriot Rosé NV is a pink Champagne of really astounding quality. This isn’t just Champagne with pink colour but has wonderfully complex red-berry flavours and crisp, fresh citrusy notes. It is not cheap: around £46. But for an extremely special occasion there are few pink fizzes that I would rather have to drink. From Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason and Oddbins as well as a handful of independent wine merchants.
Belvoir Farms Blueberry/Blackcurrant Cordial
Another was Domaine de Brau Cabernet Franc 2011, which is a bit of a rarity. Cabernet Franc often has a rasping tannic character that usually leads winemakers to blend it. Here it is juicy and supple all on its own, the tannins civilised and the characteristic green, minty qualities giving it a lifting freshness. Entirely lovable, and organic to boot. From Vintage Roots (www.vintageroots.co.uk) at £9.95.
And finally, in tribute to Joan, the drink that we gave her when she came to dine: Belvoir Farms Blueberry/Blackcurrant Cordial. Mixed with ordinary fizzy water over lots of ice, this made her as happy as someone can be when they’ve been without alcohol for three weeks. I will make good use of it if I join the ranks of the Dryathletes next year. Though I hasten to add that that IF is very, very big.