Sometime there are things a person just has to do. Through no fault of her own, she’s subjected to torturous, painful experiences that simply must be gotten through for some purpose greater than the suffering she must endure. This week, sampling Domaine de Grand Pré Winery‘s offerings, was most decidedly not one of those experiences.
On the morning we went to the Market, Clara and I were on a tight time budget. It was her older brother Max’s birthday party and I’d baked a cake while Clara was at dance class. As soon as she arrived home, I swooped her up and off we went to market.
With Clara by the hand, I swept up to Domaine de Grand Pré Winery booth and launched into my RootLocal spiel. A bewildered looking Anna Weig explained that she’d been in Germany for three weeks and was therefore unsure of who I was or why I was asking my 6 year old to try a sample of Maréchel Foch. See, I was hoping to get an “ew YUCK!” face from her, but she is too diplomatic for that, so after she’d touched her little tongue to the liquid and politely declined it, I gallantly offered to finish off the sample for her. It really was lovely, but I do not go in much for reds, so I peeked around to see what else was on offer.
I was sorely tempted to try the Tidal Bay because I’ve yet to be less than in love with any of the Tidal Bay wines on offer by the various participating Valley wineries…but I thought RootLocal deserved a true first impression from me. (You’ll be happy to hear that I had a glass of Grand Pre’s Tidal Bay when my sisters and I took our mother out for dinner. It is everything I had expected: deliciously delightful.) My eye landed on a very Champagne-y looking bottle.
Anna explained that while the name Champagne is not able to be used unless said concoction is grown and bottled in the Champagne region of France, Domaine de Grand Pré’s cleverly-named Champlain is made using exactly the same process. It’s a bit of a mad-scientist process involving yeast inside the bottle and a beer-cap-style cap to seal it, a year or so to wait, and then an inverting, daily turning, and freezing process that allows the yeast to be fished out and a cork slapped into the bottle. I’m positive Wikipedia can explain it better than that. Suffice it to say: you can’t get this stuff in a kit.
This adventure was educational in more ways than one. As I’d mentioned before, I was in a rush that day. As soon as we wheeled into the driveway, I frantically slapped the remainder of the cake together and had it ready about 30 seconds before the first guest arrived. At that point, I remembered the Champlain waiting out in the van. I fetched it and put it in the freezer.
Here is where the educational bit comes in. Since I am a self-trained hack when it comes to wine appreciation, I googled how to drink champagne (a.k.a. Champlain) and learned it was best served cold. Although the freezer speeded things up a bit, my lovely sister Joan was not able to wait as she had only popped by briefly to wish Max a happy party. She gamely agreed to give it a taste with me. I was happy to share, but I explained to her that I would have to be careful, because it should be cold. As it happens, Google was NOT kidding. If you open Champlain without letting it thoroughly chill, it will exit the bottle rather enthusiastically.
The young gentlemen at the party were quite entertained by the enormous pop followed by me laughing my head off and my sister attempting to “save” the precious liquid by capturing it with her mouth. Fortunately, the bubbles were more sound than fury, and the eventual level of liquid was not much lowered. I poured three glasses (did you think I was leaving Mike out?) and we found the cork two days later.
I was going to pretend I was all sophisticated and compare Champlain to all the other champagne I’ve tasted, but I realized you would see through me faster than a cork can hit a ceiling in the middle of a 13th birthday party. Here’s what I CAN tell you: Champlain is perfectly delicious. It is dry and apple-y tasting and it stings your mouth with a zillion bubbly bursts of champagne-y goodness. It’s not so dry that you feel your eyeballs are about to be sucked into your sinuses, and it’s not so bubbly that you feel your skull might lift off. I could drink this stuff every day. But I won’t, because that would mean it was no longer celebratory and there might be other ill effects. Please drink responsibly, audience.
However, if you have anything you want to celebrate: a wedding, a birth, the beginning of Spring (at long last), or that it’s a Thursday afternoon…I highly recommend chilling a bottle of Champlain and then carefully opening it. My mother also tried it and also pronounced it delicious.
Bonus: see how I resisted making a bad pun about how it’s not chamPLAIN, it’s chamAWESOME.
Extra bonus: I’ll be called to the Bar on June 6th, an event that is often celebrated…
Domaine de Grand Pré’s winery offerings can be found at the Wolfville Farmer’s Market, at some NSLC locations, and many other places, including the possibility of ordering online! You can find all sorts of information about them at there website: grandprewines.ns.ca