Archive for tag: Sparkling Perry

What has a 1932 Morgan got to do with Welsh Sparkling Perry?

Mike Penney of Troggi Cider, Monmouthshire South Wales lets us know about his French Cider and Perry connections.

What has a 1932 Morgan got to do with Welsh Sparkling Perry?

My name is Mike Penney and I am the proprietor of Troggi - makers of whole juice cider and perry and specialising in sparkling perry. In 1983 I moved to Monmouthshire and in 1984 started making cider and perry. In those days Usk Agricultural College (as was) provided a contract milling and pressing service and that is what got me going. The results were encouraging so Troggi (named after the brook that borders our land) was born.

Meanwhile a long term interest in Morgan cars had led to a search for an example of the definitive Morgan - a sporting three wheeler. These cars were produced between 1909 and 1952 with the zenith of production and sporting success in the 1920's and 30's. In 1989 the opportunity to purchase a part restored 1932 Super Sports Morgan, powered by a 1100cc JAP V-twin engine, was presented. Over the next 2 years the car was completed and in 1991 it was driven from Wales to Krakow to a medical conference to raise money for a lithotripter (an ultrasonic kidney stone buster) - but that's another story. This continental trip encouraged participation in other events in Europe, and from 1995 to the present regular visits to France have occurred each summer.

The French have traditionally had a particular liking for light sports cars and in the 1920s and 30s the exploits of Morgans in the UK were noted. This resulted in licences from the Morgan Motor Company to manufacturers in France being granted and French versions were produced namely Darmont and Sandford. Many of these cars survive to this day so that each year the enthusiastic owners clubs arrange meetings to which British Morgans are invited. These meetings are wonderfully French. Usually held in wine growing regions, arrangements are made to commandeer a medieval village or small town, the roads are shut and an alfresco racing circuit is arranged. After much roaring about usually in glorious sunshine this is followed by general merriment, eating and drinking - real entente cordiale.

GP Retro 316 [800x600]
Leaving the pits before the race.

Currently the favoured venue is a small medieval town south of Saumur in the Loire Valley called Le Puy Notre Dame. This town is perched on a knoll of tuffeau stone topped by a massive church modelled on Poitier cathedral. Money to build the church was raised in the 13th and 14th centuries when a sacred relic was brought to Le Puy after the crusades - the garter of the Virgin Mary. It was believed that touching the belt assured uncomplicated childbirth so that the female nobility of Europe beat a path to Le Puy and paid for the privilege, hence financing the massive church building. However I digress...

Underneath Le Puy are old mine working dating back to Roman times - mines to extract the tuffeau stone. In fact there are an amazing 80 kilometres of galleries and chambers now providing ideal storage facilities for maturing the local wines - including sparkling Saumur Brut. The Saumur Brut is made predominantly from the Chenin Blanc grape so is different from its more northerly cousin Champagne; however, the secondary fermentation process is identical. Although I had dabbled first with bottle conditioning of perry (finishing the primary fermentation in the bottle) then with bottle fermenting (inducing a secondary fermentation in the bottle) advice from the Le Puy vignerons, especially Philippe Gourdon (Chateau Tour Grise) enabled me to refine the process, including the controlled disgorgement of the sediment - away from the spectacular but rather wasteful dégorgement à la volée.

So there you have it. How a car with a Welsh name made on the English/Welsh border nearly 80 years ago helped to rejuvenate sparkling perry making in Wales.

GP Retro 124 [800x600]
Fighting off the French threat