CORKAGE: Sipping On The Road In France, Chowing Pink Cookies And Touring Lallier…
(ed. note: Amorita and her husband Scott are currently in France celebrating their honeymoon. Our hearty congratulations on their marriage and best hopes for outstanding times abroad)
by Amorita Bastaja | With the morning to myself in Reims, I’m on a mission to find the famous little pink cookies called “Fosser”. A few patisseries are checked and success! Little pink biscuits designed for dipping in my pink bubble. Covered in powdered sugar, they are delicious when soaked in Champagne…
In the early afternoon, we head out towards the small town of Ay, where the Champagne house Lallier is located. Along the route are hundreds upon hundreds of rows of Pinot Noir vines, and we can’t help but stop and stare. When we arrive in Ay, a charming little town where the people are very friendly, a baguette for suffices for lunch, as most of the town is closed, save for one bar where the locals are all smoking.
We walk over to Lallier where Jeanne, the export director, meets us for a tour (when she visited Vancouver last year for the Playhouse Wine Festival, she and I became fast friends). The most fascinating part of the tour was the bottling line. Really! Here, we watched the Zero Dosage Champagne go through a strict quality control process (the only one imported to BC and one of the few still done in Champagne). The first gentleman on the line, using a pair of pliers, popped off the wire holding down the cork (no crown cap here) before performing degorgement by popping off the cork. With much pomp and circumstance, the frozen cap flies out, creating a fountain of Champagne.
The second part of the process was my favourite. The bottle is handed over to a man who smells and tastes. He literally does it all day, just checking for bad bottles. My dream gig! Because there is no topping up in the Zero Dosage, the bottle then hits the line, where a new cork, cage and foil are secured in place. Then the bottle passes through the label machine and it’s ready to ship.
All of Lallier’s wines are from Grand Cru vineyards, except the Rose. I’m most keen on the Blanc de Blancs; toasty but not heavily yeasty, with a lovely freshness to it. The Zero Dosage is also quite interesting; without a touch of sugar it’s very high in acid and very dry. It would be a fabulous foil for a greasy breakfast.
After Lallier I insist on a quick detour to the tiny town of Hautvillers. In a very non-descript little Abbey, two tombs are set side by side, that of Dom Perignon and Dom Ruinart. The placards at each head simply say “Ici repose Dom Pierre Perignon. Cellerier De L’Abbaye, 1639-1715″. It’s a fitting end to our jaunt through Champagne. Considering the grandness and reputation of the region, its beginnings were humble indeed.
Amorita Bastaja is a manager at Legacy Liquor Store, the largest liquor store in British Columbia (located in the Athlete’s Village), and the Wine Editor of Scout. Her love of imbibing steered her through courses from the International Sommelier Guild and the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, and has taken her to many wine regions, including Washington State, Napa and Sonoma, Piemonte, Veneto, Tuscany, Abruzzo, Provence and all over the Okanagan Valley.