By Lewis Alcock
The onset of October saw The Wine Company of Colchester, along with the London Wine Advisor Team, embark on a trip to the famous and historic province of Champagne. The primary port of call was none other than the home of Michel Guilleminot, who has created three of the most loved and re-ordered Champagnes The Wine Company has to offer.
Following a beautiful four course meal at the Guilleminot home in the quiet commune of Channes, we were treated to a tour in which we experienced how the wines are made. We saw the series of large stainless steel production tanks, which are easily large enough to climb into (indeed, a certain Daniel Booth did so). Stainless steel tanks are very useful in the process of fermentation, as temperature control is easily managed and can be kept constant.
Another highlight was being shown the operation of incredibly useful gyropalettes, a vital piece of machinery used in the second fermentation of champagne production. Formerly a manual task, riddling (or remuage in French) is the gradual twisting and moving of a bottle until it is completely upside down, thus removing the yeast sediment. Michel Guilleminot uses gyropalettes to perform this task automatically on many bottles at once, which saves a great deal of time.
As the sun began to descend, we made our way over to the most southerly vineyard in the whole of Champagne. This is where the Pinot Noir vines are grown. The extremely popular Blanc de Noirs from Michel Guilleminot is produced from entirely his own Pinot Noir grapes aged for three years and is only ever bottled on the Guilleminot estate. This allows maximum consistency and quality control, and a reason behind why so many people remain loyal to this Champagne and the Guilleminot family for such a sustained amount of time.