The traditional of all of these wines is closely
connected with that of sparkling wines. Today
the designation (SPARKLING WINE) is
reserved for products produced in certain French
districts and in determined amounts. But the
production of sparkling wines is also carried
out in many other wine districts. In general,
sparkling wines are those which foam readily
because of the presence of high concentrations
of dissolved CO2. The CO2 pressure is
4.05-5.06Pa (4-5 atm) at 20 C. However, in the
United States, wines containing a pressure of
slightly more than 2.03 Pa (2 atm) may be called
sparkling wines. The methods of production are
wine process (bottle fermentation, removal of
yeast by gorging)
process (bottle fermentation, transfer to a
tank, and removal of the yeast by
Sparkling wine Process:-
In the classical bottle fermentation, a dry white
wine (cuvé) undergoes a secondary fermentation after
the addition of about 25 g per liter of sucrose
fermentation takes place in thick walled, tightly
closed bottles at 9-12C. The fermentation requires
several months. After that the wine remains on the
yeast for several months or years. During this
period the yeast collects in the neck of the
bottles, a process which is aided by shaking and by
an increasing inclination of the bottles so that
they approach a vertical position. Finally, the
yeast deposit is frozen in the neck of the bottle
and disgorges when the bottle is opened. The lost
amount is then replaced by adding a solution of
sucrose in wine. The sucrose concentration depends
on the desired and product and the bottles are
tightly closed after addition of the dosage.
In this process the bottle fermentation is
carried out as above, but the yeast is removed by
transferring the wine from the bottles to a tank in
a closed system and under nitrogen pressure. After
addition of the dosage, the wine is filtered in a
closed system and with nitrogen or carbon dioxide
counters pressure and filled into bottles. This
method permits retention of the carbon dioxide in
This process is suitable for mass production of
sparkling wine and results in wine of somewhat
lesser quality the secondary fermentation is carried
out in a pressurized vessel. A certain concentration
of unfermented, residual sugar is retained in the
wine so that there is no need for addition of
dosages. After filtration the wine can be filled
into bottles. In this process the carbon dioxide
evolved during the secondary fermentation is also
In contrast to the preceding process the sparkling
character of wine obtained by impregnating the base
wine with carbon dioxide. That means that there is
no secondary fermentation. This process is suitable
for the production of less expensive wines and its
quality is largely determined by the quality of the
base wine. Also in contrast to the preceding
processes, which involve a secondary fermentation,
the carbon dioxide is only weakly bound and escapes
more quickly after the bottles are opened.
The choice of yeast is highly important for bottle
fermentations since this fermentation is carried out
under more demanding conditions. The alcohol
concentration of the cuve’ (about 11% by vol.) the
low temperature, and slowly increases pressure of
co2 are all inhibitory for the yeast. It is also
important that the yeast be fairly flocculent and
forms a compact deposit. Strains of S.cerevisiae and
S.bayanus are used in commercial practice.
TRADITIONAL METHOD OF SPARKLING WINES
Original clarification process was discovered by Dom
Perignon who used pinot noir grapes to make
Champagne - The Region
Most northerly major wine producing region in
Continental climate, which means cold winters and
Main grape varieties grown in this region are:
Pinot noir (r)
Pinot meunier (r)
Sub-soil is chalk
Production Steps of the Traditional Method
1. Primary Fermentation
Sugar + yeast -------> -OH (alcohol) + CO2 +
This primary fermentation will usually yield a
product which is 9% alcohol by volume.
The different grape varieties are always vinified
Most of the vinifications is done in stainless
steel, rarely is oak used (oak exceptions are Krug
The porduct of primary fermentation is quite acidic.
Some wines undergo malolactic fermentation, some do
2. Blending (Assemblage)
Different percentages of varietals are combined for
consistent house styles. This can either mean that
different varietals from the same (current) year are
blended, or Vin Clair from other vintage years are
blended in as well.
3. Secondary Fermentation (in the bottle, ALWAYS)
The product of the blending process (the cuvee) is
taken, and to it is added just the precise amount of
liqueur de triage. The liqueur de tirage is a
solution of sugar and yeast which will re-initiate
the fermentation process.
Secondary fermentation is done to raise the alcohol
percentage by 2%, to a total of about 11% alc/vol.
Secondary fermentation always takes place in the
bottle according to the traditional method of
Champagne. Magnums are regarded as the perfect
sized vessel for the secondary fermentation process.
The product is then crown capped (like beer), so
that the CO2 gas produced by secondary fermentation
does not escape.
Maturation occurs on the lees (in the bottle) and is
dependent upon yeast autolysis.
The minimum maturation requirements for traditional
- Non-Vintage, 1 year on the lees
- Vintage, 3 years on the lees
5. Riddling (Remuage)
The repositioning of bottles from horizontal to a
somewhat vertical position to assist in the removal
of the sediment (lees).
Long ago, this was accomplished by using a sandwich
board type device called a pupitres. Modern
gyropalettes are mechanised riddling mechanisms
which take most of the hand work out of riddling.
Originally done by freezing the sediment plug in the
neck of the bottle. Inverted bottle's neck was
dipped in an icy brine vat, the solids of the plug
then coagulated, and could be removed in one go.
Modern method of plug removal is to use nitrous
7. Dosage (aka, the Colonel's Secret Step)
In Champagne, the product is dosed with something
called liqueur d'expedition.
This stage determines the final sweetness of the
wine (acidity balance by altering sweetness level).
The liqueur d'expedition is different for every
producer, and is usually a fairly well guarded
secret. However, it could be something like Cognac
or icewine, depending on how the producer wanted to
affect the sweetness/acidity balance of the final
The following are sweetness levels commonly
associated with qualitative labelling descriptors:
Extra Brut (not common) -----> 0-6 gr/L residual
Brut (more common) -----> 6-15 gr/L residual
Extra Dry -----> 12-20 gr/L residual sugar
Sec -----> 17-35 gr/L residual sugar
Finally, the product is closed with a cork and hasp.
type of wine, usually white, that is effervescent
with bubbles of
carbon dioxide gas which sparkle as they rise to
the surface. While
champagne is the best-known, sparkling wines are
produced in almost every wine region in the world.
They are generally at their best when made by the
méthode champenoise, acquiring their sparkle
secondary fermentation inside a sealed bottle
which prevents the gas from escaping. Inferior
versions may be made by
carbonation, the injection of
carbon dioxide gas into the wine. There are many
styles of sparkling wine and these vary greatly both
in sweetness and in the amount of effervescence.
Sparkling wines in France are called mousseux for
fully sparkling, pétillant for lightly sparkling,
and perlant for very lightly sparkling. The Italian
equivalents are spumante, frizzante and frizzantino.
Crémant is another type of sparkling wine from
France, while the predominant sparkling wine from
spumante, from Germany
Sekt, and from Spain
cava. See also
From California, Spain, Italy, Germany, Australia
All that glitters is not gold and all that sparkles
is not Champagne. Despite the American penchant for
calling all wine with bubbles Champagne, the only
kind of sparkling wine that has a right to call
itself Champagne is stuff that comes from the region
of the same name in northern France.
Does that mean the only good sparkling wine comes
from the Champagne region? Not at all. Many good
sparkling wines come from Italy, Spain, Germany, the
United States, and other areas of France.
Several French Champagne houses have California
sparkling wine operations. And they’re no weak
sisters, either. In fact, many think the non-vintage
California wines may be as good as or better than
non-vintage French Champagnes, and certainly they
are better values at $12 to $18.
As with their French counterparts, the California
sparkling wine wineries are in cooler climates
(Sonoma and Mendocino counties) and use the same
grapes, primarily pinot noir and chardonnay with
some pinot meunier. This produces a richer taste
than sparkling wines made from grapes in other
countries. The richest wines have the highest
percentage of red pinot noir. All chardonnay
sparklers, called blanc de blanc are the lightest.
The 1992 Domaine Carneros Le Reve is an elegant
California blanc de blanc from the house of
Taittinger. Domaine Chandon's Blanc de Noir, made
from pinot noir, is a consistently good
full-flavored sparkling wine from Moet & Chandon.
Maybe the best California sparkling wine of all is
Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley NV.
But you don't have to have French parentage to make
good value sparkling wine in California. Also look
for Korbel, S. Anderson, Gloria Ferrer, Iron Horse,
Jepson, and Scharffenberger (now owned by Moet). And
beyond California, there is Washington state,
particularly Domaine St. Michelle Brut from the wine
juggernaut Chateau St. Michelle and Gruet Brut New
Mexico NV (yes, New Mexico).
Spain is the largest consumer of sparkling wine in
the world and it's hard to beat producers such as
Freixenet, Codorniu, and Paul Cheneau on price,
which is rarely more than $10. Spanish sparkling
wine, called "cava" after the word for cellar, is
made in Penedes in northeast Spain. Cavas are made
in the French style, called "metodo classico," a
reformation of "methode champenoise," a French term
now illegal under European Community rules unless
the wine comes from Champagne. "Metodo classico"
means that the second fermentation—which produces
the bubbles—takes place in the bottle.
Traditionally, cavas were made from native grapes
such as macabeo, parellada, and xarello, but more
wineries are switching over to chardonnay to achieve
a more universal and thus less distinctive taste.
Spanish cavas are generally light, crisp and very
refreshing, but not terribly interesting, though
there are some exceptions such as Fleur de Nuit and
In Italy the name of the game is prosecco, a
sparkling wine made from the grape of the same name
in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. The best
proseccos such as Rustico by Nino Franco and
Venegazzù Prosecco Brut di Valdobbiadene nv from
count piero loredan gasparini don’t cost much more
than $12 and are bone dry with light citrus flavors
and a faint nip of bitter almond on the finish,
which is typical of Italian white wines.
The key to prosecco is freshness. If you see dust on
the bottles, head elsewhere. Freshness is also the
key to moscato d'art, a sweet sparkler made in
Piedmont in northeastern Italy that's about the same
price as prosecco. Thorough chilling will mitigate
some of that sweetness, but even without it, the
best moscato d'Astis are never cloying. They're
great with brunch, perhaps on Christmas or New
Year's morning since they are quite low in alcohol.
But don't overlook them as an aperitif. Producers to
look for are Vietti and Rivetti.
German sparkling wines, called Sekt, are engaging
alternatives to traditional Champagnes. They can be
made of pinot blanc but more often are made with
riesling and generally range in price from $12 to
$18. Most have bracing acidity. Deinhard Lila Brut
NV is a widely available example. More obscure, but
worth seeking out is Schumann-Nagler Cuvee Rheingau
Riesling, a Sekt trocken, meaning very dry.
One would think Australia too hot for sparkling
wines. Yet Aussie winemakers do some amazing things,
particularly in the case of Seaview Brut Sparkling
Wine (about $10). You won't confuse this with
Champagne. But this blend of pinot noir, muscadelle,
chenin blanc, and semillon is a fine quaff.
Now we come full circle back to France for sparkling
wines that aren't Champagne, meaning they come from
everywhere but that specific place. In the Loire
Valley, sparkling Vouvray is made from chenin blanc
grapes, typically when the grapes are not ripe
enough to make still (non sparkling) wine. Because
only riesling has more acidity than chenin blanc,
these wines are refreshing but with more creamy
mouthfeel than the German sparklers. Foreau Brut is
The Jura and Savoie in eastern France produce a lot
of lesser known sparkling wines. One of the better
ones is Brut Dargent. Cremant d'Alsace is a
sparkling wine from Alsace usually made of
combinations of pinot noir, pinot blanc, and pinot
gris. Because they are very high in acidity, they
are crisp and very refreshing. Lucien Albrecht
(about $15) is a good name to remember.
Regardless of where your sparkling wine comes from,
it should have a clean aroma, though not a varietal
character since most are blends. Citrus notes are
almost always positive and the tinier the bubbles
the better. They give the mouth a creamy feel rather
than a foamy one created by larger bubbles. Most of
all, good sparkling wines should leave the mouth
refreshed and ready for another bite of food'or
another sip of wine.