How sparkling wine is made at J Vineyards
10th September 2014
We ask J Vineyards how they make their sparkling wine.
Sparkling wine grapes are harvested normally in August, earlier than varietal wine grapes, to capture the natural acidity in the fruit. The grapes are then delicately pressed as whole clusters in a Coquard press. This is a specialized machine, designed in France which keeps the clusters stationary during pressing, rather than the more common bladder press that rotates the grapes, this means the juice comes into less contact with the grape skins so the wine retains its more delicate fruit characters.
Sparkling wine goes through two fermentations. The first is an alcoholic fermentation. This takes place following the pressing and at cool temperatures. The wines are blended, cold-stabilized and filtered then we can bottle them. It is at this time we add sugar and yeast, a process called tirage. The bottles are sealed with cup-shaped plastic inserts and metal crown caps. The bottles are then stacked horizontally for the second fermentation, called prise de mousse or “setting of the sparkle”. Following this second fermentation, the wine ages on its yeast lees, becoming softer and more layered in flavor. At J Vineyards & Winery, our sparkling wines can age anywhere from two to eight years.
After aging, riddling takes place, this used to be done by hand, where one person would turn every single bottle multiple times. Today, we have “riddling cages” that hold 504 bottles at a time and are automatically turned, the time and frequency of this is determined by our winemaker. Riddling gathers the yeast sediment into the neck of the bottle ready to be removed.
During “disgorgement”, the bottles are placed neck-down in a freezing solution, this freezes the yeast sediment in the neck of the bottle and once an ice plug has formed, as the bottles are uncapped, the plug with the yeast sediment trapped inside will literally shoot out of the bottle as a result of the sparkling wine’s internal bottle pressure.
The last stage is adding the dosage, a small amount of a mixture made from sugar and reserve wine is added to the disgorged bottles, this sweetness is what gives our sparkling wine its designation of Extra Brut or Brut, With the driest of them being Extra Brut. The bottles will then be laid down for six to twelve months prior to being released and sold ready for drinking!
Shared by Mysty Stewart
Glass of Bubbly
Executive editor of news content for the website Please enjoy the articles that we share - We hope you find our love for Champagne & Sparkling Wines both interesting and educational.