Visit to Ackerman's Caves

Susan Morgan

A group of thirty members, including eight new members, gathered at Ackerman's Caves in St Florent on February 20th, for a 'journey to the centre of the bubble.' We entered the impressive caves and heard about the history of the company, and of the wine making process.

Ackermans was founded in 1811 by Jean-Baptiste Ackerman, and by 1855 his sparkling wines were being exhibited at the Exhibition Universal in Paris. In 1850, the Royal Bubble was marketed as a sparkling wine at an affordable price. In the early years of the twentieth century, Brut-Royal sans liqueur was being recommended for invalids, and was said to be just the thing for gout and rheumatism.

After the wine; the art. For the last part of the tour, we walked through Julien Salaud's installation 'Fleuve Celeste' admiring the silver figures of birds and animals in outline against the sides of the cave; while glistening fish of various sizes and shapes apparently swam over our heads.

Having journeyed through the bubble, we were able, of course, to sample the bubble during a tasting. We tried the modern sparkling wines of the early twenty- first century. We then adjourned for a sociable lunch with the chance to try more Ackerman wines.

After lunch, we turned to music. We listened to the celebrated Warwickshire Choristers conducted by Garry Jones and accompanied by their pianist Julian Grimshaw. During an impressive performance, the choir's presentation ranged from traditional to surprisingly modern. It was generally agreed to have been the high point of our visit.

Pat Curd thanked the choir together with their conductor and pianist, and also Janet Dwyer for the organisation, and Hugh Whittaker for providing the contact which had made possible this special performance.

As we said our goodbyes, we felt that it had been a most enjoyable visit.