What is the optimal climate for grapes that make quality sparkling wines?
Cool climates where grapes struggle to ripen is ideal because:
- Grapes will have just-ripe flavors;
- Grapes will retain high acidity;
- Grapes will accumulate sugar slowly, giving wines with low alcohol levels (9-11%).
Why is slow sugar accumulation important in grapes destined for sparkling wine?
Because a slower sugar accumulation means lower sugar levels at harvest, which will yield a base wine that is lower in alcohol (9-11%). This is important because secondary fermentation produces an additional 1-2% of alcohol.
Grapes grown in warmer climates are ideal for what style of sparkling wine?
Tank method/short aged as fruit provides the more dominant flavor.
Which two grapes are well suited for autolytic styles of sparkling wine?
- Pinot Noir
Why is Chardonnay so well suited to make sparkling wine?
- Its high acidity and low levels of alcohol are an asset for sparkling wine;
- Apple/citrus aromas are subtle, which complement autolytic flavors.
What are the environmental risks that Chardonnay is prone to?
- Prone to coulure + millerandage;
- Susceptible to frost due to early budding;
- Susceptible to powdery mildew + botrytis in wet periods prior to harvest.
Overall, Chardonnay is more disease resistant than Pinot Noir.
Why is Pinot Noir well suited to make sparkling wine?
It is early budding and early ripening
What are some environmental risks Pinot Noir is prone to?
- Prone to frost because it is early budding;
- Prone to coulure;
- Susceptible to downy + powdery mildew, botrytis, fan leaf, leaf roll (it’s thin skinned!).
Between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which grape’s quality is affected if yields are too high?
Three factors within a grape variety that can influence the style of a sparkling wine include:
- Intensity of aromas, whether the grape is aromatic (Riesling) or neutral (Chardonnay);
- Ability of the grape to retain acidity while ripening;
- How the base wine is affected by autolysis, if it sees autolysis.
Grapes grown for sparkling wine are often grown at higher or lower yields than for still wines?
What are the most desirable characteristics in grapes used for sparkling wines?
- High acid;
- Low potential alcohol;
- Delicate flavors.
All of these are better achieved with HIGH YIELDS.
Effervescence enhances or reduces off flavors?
What is the enzyme released by botrytis that can cause oxidation?
What does early harvesting help to avoid in the grapes?
Fungal disease and mildew pressure
You avoid the rainy season (autumn) by harvesting early!
What happens to a wine if grapes are harvested unripe?
Those unripe flavors can become prominent as the wine matures and the wine can taste unpleasant.
Remember, effervescence enhances the flavors in wine!
Three advantages and one disadvantage of hand harvesting:
- Can sort at picking;
- Allows for post-harvest selection (remove diseased bunches);
- Small crates minimize splitting and crushing;
- avoiding oxidation + tannin extraction;
- Disadvantage: It’s slow, labor-intensive, and expensive.
Two advantages and one disadvantage of machine harvesting:
- Faster, cheaper than hand harvesting;
- Can harvest at night when grapes are cooler;
- cool grapes mean that oxidation slowed, resulting in fresher wine;
- Disadvantage: Can rupture grapes skins;
- can lead to oxidation, phenolic extraction.
How are grapes usually pressed for premium Traditional Method sparkling wines?
- It’s gentle;
- Stems minimize the pressure required;
- Provides clean, delicate juice low in solids + phenolics;
- Disadvantage: fewer bunches can be loaded into press, so it’s time consuming.
Whole-bunch pressing is done:
- Fast and hard
- Slow and gently
Slow and gently
- Especially for black grapes – slow and gentle pressing minimizes maceration and extraction;
- Phenolics risk the wine tasting bitter and feeling coarse.
Which machines press grapes most gently?
- Pneumatic press
- Basket press
Press fractions, versus free run juice, are higher in what three things?
Press juice wines are:
- Faster maturing
- Slower maturing
What does that mean for when they’re best consumed?
Faster maturing, which means they’re best for immediate consumption
After the grapes are pressed for sparkling wine, when is the juice clarified: before or after primary fermentation?
Clarified BEFORE primary fermentation
What can a winemaker do to must before primary fermentation if it has excessive color or tannin after pressing?
Fine it using casein, gelatin, or PVPP
What is the temperature for primary fermentation to make a base wine?
14º - 20ºC (57.2º - 68ºF)
- This is cold enough to retain fruit flavors but not so cold to inhibit yeasts
Grapes for sparkling wine are harvested with low pH (or, high acidity).
Is a low pH environment easy or stressful for yeasts?
In what type of vessel is primary fermentation usually done for sparkling wine?
Temperature-controlled stainless steel vats
What type of yeast is selected for primary fermentation?
One that is able to ferment reliably to dryness in high acid/low pH conditions.
- neutral yeasts selected for Traditional Method;
- other yeast strains used to promote flavors, thiols, and esters selected for Tank Method.
Is it common or uncommon to use the same yeast for primary and secondary fermentations?
For secondary fermentation, yeasts must be tolerant of what kind of conditions?
- Alcoholic environment (9.5-11% abv);
- Low pH (below 3);
- Low temperatures (~16ºC/60ºF);
- High pressure;
- Poor nutrients.
Name two desirable yeast characteristics for Traditional Method’s secondary fermentation.
- Rapid autolysis;
- Easy flocculation (fine particles clumping together).
What are the two most commonly used yeast strains for Traditional Method?
- Prise de Mousse (EC 1118)
- LALVIN (DV10)
What is malolactic conversion used for in sparkling wines?
- Reduce excessive acidity;
- Enhance texture.
When does malolactic conversion occur in sparkling wines?
Right after primary
If malolactic conversion does NOT occur right after primary, it could happen during secondary fermentation which is problematic – it can turn the wine hazy and is difficult to rectify.
Why don’t sparkling wines taste buttery if they go through malo?
Diacetyl is metabolized by the yeasts during secondary fermentation, which is why we don’t taste butter.
What does a winemaker have to do to avoid malolactic conversion in sparkling wines?
Sterile filter the base wine before secondary fermentation.
What sorts of ways can a winemaker refine a base wine prior to secondary fermentation?
- Lees aging;
- Oak maturation;
- if new oak, only a very small portion is used as those flavors would be magnified with the effervescence;
- most times barrels are neutral.
Asti and Tank methods NEVER use any oak, neutral or otherwise, as a modifier.
What are the purposes of blending (assemblage)?
- Balance (acidity, sites);
- Consistency (Non-vintage);
- Style (entry level vs. age worthy);
- To make rosé;
- Complexity (varieties, treatment, older wine);
- Minimization of faults;
Traditional Method wines should be stablized for _____ and _____ prior to being bottled for secondary fermentation.
Stabilized for tartrates and proteins
At what point should all methods of sparkling wine be clarified?
When it’s a base wine, before secondary.
Where does secondary fermentation happen for Traditional Method sparkling wines?
In the same bottle in which the wine is later sold.
Which liqueur is added to the base wine to ignite secondary fermentation?
Liqueur de tirage
The amount of tirage added depends on the degree of effervescence required – the average is 24g/L sucrose (which adds ~1.5% alcohol).
What is the composition of liqueur de tirage?
- Wine and/or must;
- Yeast nutrients;
- Clarifying agent (bentonite or alginate).
How many atmosphere bars are produced by secondary fermentation?
If the winemaker wants lower pressure, they’ll use less sugar in the tirage.
What is secondary fermentation also known as?
Prise de Mousse (‘capturing the sparkle’)
Bottles are enclosed with WHAT for secondary fermentation?
- Crown cap;
At what temperature are bottles stored sur latte?
What is the typical length of secondary fermentation, when the bottles are sur latte?
It depends on the temperature of the environment.
When does lees aging start?
After secondary fermentation
Winemakers will keep bottles horizontal at 10ºC for about 15-18 months.
When do the effects of autolysis start to be detectable?
15-18 months sur lie
How long can a wine age sur lie for extended lees aging?
4 years, sometimes up to 10
Lees have an ____-_______ quality which protects the wine after autolysis has finished.
The longer a wine sits on its lees after autolysis, the shorter or longer its life after disgorgement?
e.g. Bollinger R.D. is meant to be drunk soon after release
What step happens after aging sur latte?
How long does it take to riddle bottles of sparkling wine by hand?
And by gyropalette?
Manually: 8 weeks
Gyropalette: 4 days
If wines have to be stored between riddling and disgorgement, how are they stored?
Sur pointe (on their tops)
Bottles are cooled to what temperature prior to having their necks dipped into a freezing brine?
This increases the solubility of the CO2 – meaning, no gushing!
Which liqueur is added after disgorgement?
What is it made of and what does it determine?
Liqueur d’expédition (also known as dosage)
- Blend of wine + sugar/RCGM
- Determines sweetness of final wine
What is the role of the dosage?
To balance acidity
- Dosage most important in young wines;
- The perception of acidity rounds out as wine ages, so the older the wine is at time of disgorgement the smaller dosage required.
At least some sugar is desired to encourage the development of classic, post-disgorgement aromas (roasted, toasted vanilla).
Transfer method is the same as Traditional method up to the step of ______.
Riddling does NOT take place in Transfer method.
Because riddling doesn’t take place in Transfer Method, what’s different about the liqueur de tirage used in Transfer Method?
There is no clarifying agent in the tirage.
In Transfer Method, after lees aging the wine is chilled to what temperature?
What happens when the wine is chilled to this temperature?
- Bottles are opened and poured into pressurized receiving tanks;
- SO2 is added, and the wine is sweetened, sterile filtered, and rebottled;
- label will read “Fermented in bottle”, not “Fermented in THIS bottle”.
What format sizes use Transfer Method?
Bottles smaller than 375ml (read: splits, or 187ml), and bottles larger than 3000ml (Jeroboams and larger).
All these sizes are difficult to riddle.
Ancestral method is also known as ______.
How is Pet-Nat, or Ancestral method, made?
- Partly fermented must is put into bottles;
- no SO2; meant for early drinking;
- Remaining sugar in the must is converted into CO2 + alcohol;
- Winemaker’s choice to disgorge or keep light sediment;
- No dosage.
Give three synonyms for Tank Method.
- Cuve Close
What is the benefit of making wines Tank Method vs. Traditional Method?
Tank Method enables large volumes of wine to be made:
- At a lower labor cost.
What steps of the fermentation process does Tank Method NOT do?
- No riddling;
- No disgorgement;
- No dosage;
- No extended lees aging.
What is the primary aroma winemakers are looking for in Tank Method?
Aroma of the grapes (not autolysis)
What are the ideal grapes for Tank Method sparkling wine production?
Aromatic (Muscat) and semi-aromatic (Glera)
In Tank Method, primary fermentation is:
- Slow + cool
- Fast + warm
Slow + cool to retain fresh fruit + aromas
Sugar + yeast (tirage) are added to Tank Method wines after primary fermentation for a secondary fermentation that’s:
- Slow + cool
- Fast + warmer
Fast + warmer in reinforced tanks
No clarifying agent needed as there won’t be any riddling.
How is secondary fermentation arrested in Tank Method?
Cooling wine to 2-4ºC (30-46ºF) when desired pressure and residual sugar are reached.
Tank Method wines are usually:
- Aged sur lie
- Removed from yeast immediately
Removed from yeast immediately so wine retains fruity + floral aromas.
Some Tank Method sparkling wines are lees aged, but not many.
In Tank method, what happens at the end of secondary fermentation or after lees contact?
The wine is:
- COLD STABILIZED to precipitate tartrates;
- FILTERED or CENTRIFUGUTATED to remove yeasts;
- Sugar levels adjusted;
- SO2 checked;
- Chilled to -2ºC (28ºF) to stabilize + reduce effervescence;
- Bottled with counter-pressure filler.
Asti method is a variation of what method?
Variation of Tank Method
How many fermentations does Asti go through?
One, singular, fermentation – the bubbles in Asti are from this one fermentation, NOT from added liqueur de tirage
What is unique to the Asti method?
CO2 is allowed to escape during the initial stages of primary fermentation.
Once wine has reached ~6% abv, the tank is closed and CO2 is captured. Remaining sugar adds ~1-1.5% alcohol.
About how many bars of atmosphere is a finished Asti?
What is the typical alcohol level of a finished Asti?
How is fermentation arrested in Asti method?
The wine is chilled (to keep the desired level of residual sugar), then filtered under pressure to remove any remaining yeasts and yeast nutrients.
What kind of wines are suitable to be force carbonated?
Aromatic or fruity wines
- Carbonation is cheap;
- Successful for pétillants and low pressure wines.
What is the diameter of a bottle’s neck, and the diameter of a cork for sparkling wine?
Neck: 18-21 mm
Cork: 31 mm
There are many variables that affect the formation and size of bubbles in sparkling wine.
Some of those variables include:
- Length of time sur lie (longer time produces a longer lasting mousse);
- Amount of sugar available to be converted into alcohol and CO2 (the more sugar there is, the more CO2 there will be);
- The ability of CO2 to be dissolved in the wine, which depends on several things such as the grape variety and if there is botrytis present (which reduces bubble formation);
- If disgorgement was performed well (if it’s not, a lot of CO2 is lost);
- How long the wine is in bottle;
- The type of closure;
- Size and shape of the glasses the wine is served in;
- Serving temperature of the wine (the lower the temperature, the less CO2 will be released).
In grams per liter, what is the sweetness level allowed in the EU for Brut Nature/Bruto Natural/Naturherb/Zéro Dosage?
Note! This number reflects naturally occurring residual sugar – dosage is not added at this level.
In grams per liter, what is the sweetness level allowed in the EU for Extra Brut/Extra Bruto/Extra Herb?
In grams per liter, what is the sweetness level allowed in the EU for Brut/Bruto/Herb?
In grams per liter, what is the sweetness level allowed in the EU for Extra-Sec/Extra-Dry/Extra Trocken?
In grams per liter, what is the sweetness level allowed in the EU for Sec/Secco/Seco/Dry/Trocken?
In grams per liter, what is the sweetness level allowed in the EU for Demi-Sec/Semi-Seco/Medium-Dry/Abboccato/Halbtrocken?
In grams per liter, what is the sweetness level allowed in the EU for Doux/Dulce/Sweet/Mild?
The tolerance permitted for each of the sweetness levels for champagne and sparkling wine is +/- ___g/l.
+/– 3 g/L
This means that a sparkling wine labeled Extra Dry (12-17 g/l) could actually have 9 g/l, making it more Brut in style, or it could have 20 g/l, making it more Sec in style.