Thursday, 8 August 2013

Champagne....Invented by a Lad from Winchcombe !

Looking through Twitter this morning I came across this article relating to Champagne...'Champagnes Bubbles were a happy accidentt, written by Mark Wilson. ..
Sorry to say something different, but following Jean Brays Interview on Radio Winchcombe ...It was Winchcombes own Christopher Merret !  Christopher Merret, a Naturalist and Physician who was born here in February, 1614. In 1642 he gained an M.D. degree from Oriel-Oxford and then moved to London. He wrote several books including
'A collection of acts of Parliament, Charters,Trials at Law, and Judges' Opinians' 1660 and
'A short view of the Frauds and Abuses committed by Apothecaries, in relation to Patients and Physicians '.
Pinax Rerum Naturalium Brittani-earum,continens Vegetabilia, Animalia et Fossilia in hac Insula Reperta' London 1667 , 8 Volumes. This book was the first of its kind relating to British natural history...I thought that all the bollards in Winchcombe....we have lots ! could all be shrink wrapped with old and new pictures of our immediate local history. Christopher Merret employed a well known Herbalist called Thomas Willisel to travel with him throughout Britain for five summers...sounds great..I'd love to spend five summers outside drawing pictures...perhaps I might on day. He also wrote several papers,...experiments on vegetation, the art of refining, tin mines in Cornwall..I still have my share in a tin mine ( available when there was a loophole around Poll Tax ), and bizarrely..some curious observations relative to the fens of Lincolnshire !


In December 1662, He presented The Royal Society of London with a paper called ' Some observations concerning the ordering of wines'. He described creating a second fermentation process in the bottle by adding molasses and sugar, thus making the win 'drink brisk and sparkling'. This was six years before Dom Perignon became the cellar master at the Abbey of Hautvillers. Merret added sugar not for taste but purely to add fizz and increase the alcohol content. In the 1670's wine from Champagne in France was shipped in barrels to England to be bottled with English Glass because it was strong enough to not blow up.
In 1998 in the Consumers digest it writes about English Wine growers trying to put the story right.
Well next year is 2014 , a good excuse to toast his health with a 2008 Sussex Cavendish Cuvee Merret Ridgeway....anyone got a bottle ?
By the way, apparently on the 22 January, 1666, Christopher Merret got drunk with his friend, the Diarist Samuel Pepys !

The latest news is that Jean Bray and myself applied and have got permission for a blue plaque....so... Winchcombe in Gloucestershire is now going to have it's first Blue plaque celebrating the birthplace of Christopher Merret.

1 comment:

  1. Katie,
    just by coincidence a good friend of mine called Chris Redman wrote the following article last year http://www.francetoday.com/articles/2013/03/14/dom_perignon_a_look_at_a_legend.html . Next time you are here we'll have to crack open a bottle if Lidl's have any in stock..
    Regards
    Dave Wade

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