Category: Did You Know

Christopher Merrett

Did You Know…? English wine.

In the Cotswold town of Winchcombe there is a plaque which marks the occasion when an Englishman probably became the first person to record the existence of a phenomenon we now take for granted – sparkling wine. It was Christopher Merrett – a scientist, physician, naturalist and metallurgist, who in 1662, first documented the existence of bubbles in an alcoholic beverage.

In a paper presented to the newly formed Royal Society, Merrett described how English winemakers had been adding sugar to wines to give them a refreshing, sparkling quality – 30 years before a certain, very famous, monk in France’s Champagne region. “It was the first time anyone had described the process or used the word “sparkling” to describe the end product”, Winchcombe historian Jean Bray has recorded. “Our wine coopers of recent times use vast quantities of sugar and molasses to all sorts of wines to make them drink brisk and sparkling and to give them spirit” Merrett wrote. The irony today, possibly, is that English sparkling wine is now the finest it has ever been, and may in time start to challenge Champagne in terms of quality as well as style.

Did You Know… Sauvignon Blanc is the “Mother” of Cabernet Sauvignon?

It may come as a surprise that one of the world’s most revered black grapes originated via a chance crossing of another black grape – Cabernet Franc – and the white grape – Sauvignon Blanc. This is believed to have occurred in South-West France some time during the 17th century. Whilst miles apart in colour, you can though find some aromatic and flavour compounds which link these two together – most notably the herbaceous and chopped green bell pepper bouquet and taste – particularly in cooler climate examples. And Cabernet Franc come across more like a restrained, unplugged, or “acoustic” version, of the mighty and tannic structured son Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Wright Wine Company recommends:

  • Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, Mayfly                                     2017    13.0%  £10.00
  • Saumur Champigny, Tuffe, Château du Hureau, ORGANIC          2015    13.0%  £14.50
  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Montes Alpha, Colchagua Valley, Montes   2014    14.0%  £14.00
Cabernet Sauvignon
Sauvignon Blanc

What links Bourbon, Sherry and Scotch Whisky?

Did You Know? #1

The American whiskey Bourbon is required by law to be aged for at least two years in brand new, heavily charred American oak barrels (please see picture), which contributes to the deep colour and rich, vanilla and caramel notes.

The Scotch Whisky industry then imports used Bourbon barrels to age their own whisky as they have mellowed through both the production and ageing process in America to a state which they are considered suitable for Scotch maturation. However, many distilleries also combine these barrels by aging in old Oloroso Sherry casks – or butts – which contribute a nutty liqueur like quality to the Scotch. This tripartite arrangement and recipe is a universal practice throughout most of the Scotch whisky industry and contributes to both the style and complexity of their unique spirit.

Wright Wine (and Whisk(e)y) recommends:

  • Colonel E H Taylor, Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon
  • Glenfarclas 17yo Single Malt Whisky (Sherry)
  • Glen Scotia 18yo, Single Malt Whisky (Bourbon)