What exactly are the bubbles in sparkling wine made of?
Dissolved carbon dioxide gas (CO2).
How do bubbles get into wine?
A few ways:
- Force carbonation (used for low quality, inexpensive wines);
- As a by-product of fermentation, which can take place in tank or bottle (used for quality wines, e.g. Prosecco or Champagne).
What are the 2 types of secondary fermentation used for quality sparkling wines?
Give an example of each.
- Tank Fermentation, e.g. Prosecco
- Bottle Fermentation, e.g. Cava and Champagne
What is a "base wine"?
Base wine is a still wine that is a result of primary fermentation.
It is usually dry, low in alcohol (10-11%), and high in acid.
Base wines are typically a blend of what?
Any of the following:
1. Grape varieties
- e.g. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
- e.g. NV (Non-Vintage)
- e.g. Different vineyards across 2+ villages which can vary in soil type
How is secondary fermentation initiated?
By adding a sugar + yeast solution to the base wine.
What are the 2 major by-products of secondary fermentation?
How much alcohol is created by secondary fermentation?
CO2 gas that's created during secondary fermentation -- how is that captured so that it stays in the wine?
By occuring in a closed vessel, be it a tank or a bottle.
What is another term used for "bottle fermentation"?
Give 2 examples of wines that are bottle fermented.
Traditional Method (or Méthode traditionelle)
What is the main flavor objective for bottle fermented, or Traditional Method, sparkling wines?
Autolytic flavors, such as bread, toast, and biscuit.
Traditional method sparkling wines take on these bread-like flavors from their aging on the lees.
In Traditional Method, what step happens after the sugar + yeast solution is added to the base wine?
The base wine + sugar + yeast mixture is bottled, sealed with a crown cap, and left to age for several months for autolytic compounds to develop.
Secondary fermentation happens inside that bottle and the CO2 is captured and dissolved in the wine; the CO2 will only be released when the cap is removed.
What are some of the things that are created inside a bottle after bottle fermentation is complete?
- Flavor compounds
What 3 grape varietals make up the base wine of Champagne?
- Pinot Noir
- Pinot Meunier
What is the climate of Champagne?
What makes the Champagne region ideal for making low alcohol, high acid base wines?
Because of Champagne's cool climate, the grapes struggle to ripen so acidity is higher. Less ripening means lower sugars, so there's less sugar for the yeasts to eat which means lower alcohol.
The majority of champagnes are a blend of base wines across many vintages because ___.
blending produces consistency year in and year out.
What is the term used on champagnes or other sparkling wines when the base wines are blends of different vintages?
What is a Vintage Champagne?
- A champagne that is made of 100% of the grapes from the year stated on the bottle;
- Only made in exceptional years;
- See extended periods of lees aging;
Complex and age-worthy
Describe the profile similarities and differences between a non-vintage Champagne and a Vintage Champagne.
- High acid
- Under-ripe/just-ripe citrus
- Fresh apple/crunchy pear notes
- Light autolytic aromas + flavors
- Not particularly age-worthy/better drunk young
- High acid
- Mature citrus
- Bruised apple/pear notes
- Medium to pronounced autolytic aromas + flavors
- Extremely age-worthy/benefits from extended bottle aging
What is the minimum requirement of lees aging for non-vintage Champagne?
What is the climate of Catalunya?
How do the grapes destined for sparkling wine in Catalunya, a warm climate, retain their acidity?
Grapes are harvested early.
Generally, which has more pronounced autolytic aromas + flavors:
- NV Champagne
- NV Cava
Cava spends less time on its lees than Champagne, which translates to less pronounced autolytic aromas in the final wine.
Where in Spain can Cava be made?
Most regions in Spain are allowed to produce Cava, but the majority of Cava is made in Catalunya in northeastern Spain.
What 2 international grape varietals are allowed in Spanish Cava?
What do they add?
- Pinot Noir
Both add acidity and fruit character to Cava.
The majority of Cava is made by which kind of producer:
- small, family-run businesses making high-quality, age-worthy sparkling wines
- big brands that make large-volume, uncomplicated sparkling wines
Big brands, such as Freixenet
Small producers work hard at crafting delicous, quality wines that punch above their weight. Producers to look for include Raventós, Avinyó, and Recaredo.
Besides Spain and France, name some other countries and regions make Traditional Method sparkling wine.
- South Africa
- New Zealand
What does the South African term Méthode Cap Classique indicate?
That the sparkling wine was made using Traditional Method.
Besides Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, what other grape in South Africa is widely used in Méthode Cap Classique?