“Our mead takes around one year in the main vat and another year in the bottle, at least.”
SITUATED ON A plateau between Glen Innes and Tenterfield, the village of Torrington was once a thriving hub of tin mining. Now its natural benefits have given rise to a tasty and very traditional tipple created by mead makers Pierre and Glenice Armand.
The couple created 2 Wild Souls Meadery after purchasing land at Torrington in 1979. “It was the beauty of the granite landscape,” Glenice recalls. “There was plenty of bushland without any cultivation of crops, and the benefit of four seasons. The mead making came about due to our property carrying timber species of interest to the local bee farmers. They’re always on the lookout for good bee sites, and our property had just that.”
“They paid for access to the sites by giving twenty-litre buckets of honey,” Pierre recalls. “This gave me the raw material to experiment with mead making.”
A native of rural France, Pierre is the mead maker. “He grew up at the end of the subsistence farming era,” Glenice says. “The farmers produced everything for the table including wine in the south of France and cider in Brittany and Normandy. The production process was traditional and very simple. Quality was directly related to the quality of the grapes or apples and a rigorous hygiene in the making process. These are the principles applied in our mead making.”
Glenice’s qualifications and interest in alternative health underpin her passion for getting the 2 Wild Souls product out to appreciators of naturally-brewed, preservative-free beverages.
The mead making process comes from Pierre’s country of origin: “The méthode champenoise was devised by mistake when white wines of the Champagne region of France were sold to the court of England and they were bottled before the fermentation had run its full course, creating bubbles in the drink,” Glenice says.
“This process was perfected later to achieve a consistent product, and safe pressure levels in the bottles. The fermentation in the bottles produces a sediment which is called ‘lees’. In the méthode traditionelle the lees is disgorged, or removed, to enhance the presentation of the champagne to give a clear drink; whereas the méthode champenoise ancestrale that we use is a simpler more primitive process where disgorging is not carried out.”
The fermentation of honey in the mead making process is much slower than that of wine, due to the complexity of the sugars in the mix. “Our mead takes around one year in the main vat and another year in the bottle, at least, and a maturing process goes on from there,” Pierre explains. “Torrington is well suited for mead making due to its temperate climate and chemical-free environment. The cold of the winter requires heating of the shed but the summer heat is not excessive. The forest environment is there giving the raw product and the spring on our property gives us water of the best quality for mead making.”
Pierre and Glenice love offering mead tastings at regional festivals. “People want and expect more natural products,” she says. “We need to educate people about our mead because it is a completely new version of an ancient drink. Artisanal production like ours allows for small batches of high-quality mead to be produced without the back up of preservatives or additives found in mass produced wines and beers.”
“We feel very proud and happy when we see the positive response from people liking our mead and giving compliments of the lovely blossom taste of our four varieties, especially when they experience the bubbles,” she says.
“Most times we hear ‘wow this is so different to what I have tasted in the past’, ‘can we drink this with different types of foods?’ and ‘when should we drink it, in the evening or only in winter?’ and our response is that people should chill the mead and enjoy it with all food day or night any time of the year.”
“Pierre and I met through our love of horses,” Glenice says. “All horses have a free spirit within them and nearly every young woman’s dream is to ride a free-spirited horse through meadows and woodlands, so our logo represents a beautiful powerful free-spirited horse with a free-spirited woman, which equals two wild souls.”
“Our dream is to see our mead being sold in the overseas market.”
This article first appeared in New England Living magazine.