I am always looking forward to the beautiful Monarch butterfly season in Pacific Grove every year. Why? Because, it’s one of Grandpa Jack’s regular visits to the Bay Area from the East Coast. For those of you following our Top 10 Wine Coolers Blog, you remember I’m one of Grandpa Jack’s greatest fans.
And, this year is extra special – because Grandpa Jack brought an incomparable guest, the beautiful and elegant Ms. Cole from Kent, England.
I first met Ms. Cole two decades ago when I was still in high school – while travelling with Grandpa Jack to the Channel Islands in the English Channel (off the French coast). Then we met again at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. You can imagine my delight to see her again.
This blog is inspired by a memorable conversation with Ms. Cole at our family cottage in Carmel California last month. We had great canapés, exceptional champagne and a surprise conversation about English sparkling wine that evening.
Taittinger vineyard in England
Funny how we started this conversation:
I was giving Ms. Cole a tour of our wine cellar while we were reminiscent about our last meet back in 2014. And, there it was a 2014 Taittinger Brut Champagne – it is kismet.
So, we proceeded with an impromptu tiny party – with Champagne, and an improvisation of canapés.
Check out our flavorful recipe and perfect pairing of Canapé with Champagne.
Here’s the surprise (for me) that I learned from Ms. Cole that evening:
From weather to wine – Ms. Cole told me that UK is getting warmer and wetter lately.
Some growers from Kent have mentioned that the soil mix (clay and chalk) is similar to the soil found in Champagne. And, the warmer trend of climate appears to be suited to growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
- About Pinot Meunier grapes – though it’s not well-known as Chardonnay or Pinot Noir grapes, it’s actually one of what I call the trinity of grapes used in the production of Champagne. You’ve guessed it, 30% of grapes grown in Champagne, France is the Pinot Meunier grapes.
- For those of you who’s been reading my blog, you remember that my husband Chase works in the Lab. And, we have previously featured Pinot Noir, the first fruit in the genome sequence research, in our blog. Now, you can imagine the lively conversation we had about the genotype of Pinot Meunier.
- From what I understand from Chase, the inner cell walls of the Pinot Meunier have similar genotype to Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.
The Tale of Christopher Merret
Back to English sparkling wine, I was enlightened to hear the tale that Christopher Merret, an English scientist who created bubbles in wine back in 1662 – yes, Grandpa Jack told the tale, and it was supplemented by Ms. Cole.
I think I would have to write a thesis to capture and research their wonderful tale spoken that evening. For our fun blog here – here’s a quick recap of the story:
Back in the 17th century, there were big shipments of barrels of wines from the northeast region of France (Champagne) to London (Port). And, apparently the fermentation were not quiet complete before shipment, so there was a “second fermentation” when the wine was first drawn from the barrel as the temperature warmed up a bit. So, one would see and taste “sparkles” or bubbles – a glorious experience at the tavern from the second fermentation.
Then, the creative cider makers from the south and southwest regions invented a method to create a second fermentation –by adding sugar to create delicate bubbles.
Based on some documents from the Royal society in London, Christopher Merret learned the “sparkling” method from the cider makers, and he documented it and presented it to the society in 1662.
Flash forward to the UK wine scene today, you can actually find some excellent British sparkling wine paying tribute to Christopher Merret by including the word “Merret” on the wine neck labels.
I am so inspired and intrigued by our conversation about the climate and English sparkling wine. There are half a dozen wine regions in southeast England – Grandpa Jack and I will be visiting in the next couple of years.
Of course, we hope we will have the honor of Ms. Cole’s wonderful company when we embark our journey to the UK then.
We will follow up with a set of blogs to feature the vineyards in England.
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