Bubble wines, especially at this time of year, are often on our tables. We like to celebrate special occasions with these wines, as bubbles make us feel cheerful, happy, alive!
But do we really know these sparkling wines?
Do you know the difference between a traditional and tank method? Do you know that bubbles can be generated naturally?
This article is for you if you want to discover it and taste some beautiful bubble wines in this holiday season!
In the old days, sparkling wines were produced by fermentation (transformation of sugar into alcohol), which was carried out in the bottle. The wines were bottled before the end of alcoholic fermentation with sugar. The results were very inconsistent, with the pressure of the carbon dioxide (released naturally during the fermentation) being sometimes too low or… so strong that the bottle exploded on its own!!
Since then, the winemaking procedure has improved and the bubbles are generally the result of a second alcoholic fermentation in a closed system. This can be accomplished in several ways:
- Traditional Method.
The most qualitative way, this is used in different regions accross the world. Known by the name of Traditional Method or “Methode Champenoise” because it is the one that is used in Champagne – but it is also used in Spain to produce Cava. Its principle? Two fermentations, the first in the vat and the second in the bottle, adding a “liqueur de tirage” (sugar) and yeast. The yeast eats the sugar and it releases alcohol and carbon dioxide. Once the second fermentation in the bottle is complete, the yeast “dies.” The “riddling” stage can then begin: the bottles are positioned downwards and rotated regularly in order to direct the dead yeast into the neck of the bottle which are then “disgorged.” The neck of the bottle is frozen in a basin to remove the dead yeast and then a “liqueur d’expédition” is added, depending on the type of wine to be obtained: dry, dry to off-dry, off-dry to medium-dry, medium-dry, sweet, luscious. It is then corked and sold.
Where do we find those wines? France (Champagne and Crémant (7 regions in France produce “Crémant” like the Loire and Burgundy for example)), Spain (Cava) and in the new world (“Traditional Method” will be mentioned on the wine label).
- Transfer Method.
This is the same method as the traditional method except that after the second fermentation, the bottles are emptied into vats and the final stages of “disgorgement” and addition of the “liqueur d’expédition” are carried out. This allows the winemaker to reduce production costs and to obtain a sparkling wine of good quality at a lower price!
Where do we find those wines? New world countries like Australia for example (“Transfer Method” will be mentioned on the wine label).
- Tank Method.
Developed in the early 1900s by Mr. Charmat, this approach is more economical and quickly produces a sparkling wine. The second fermentation takes place not in the bottle but in a “closed” tank.
Where do we find those wines? Almost everywhere but the best-known regions that use this method are Germany (Sekt) and Italy (Prosecco and Lambrusco).
- Asti Method
This method is an exception because, unlike the other three described above, there is no second fermentation in tank or bottle.
The technique is to stop the alcoholic fermentation before it ends. The winemaker closes the vat when the wine reaches 5% alcohol. The gas released during the fermentation is thus blocked in the wine. The tank is refreshed at 0ºC to stop the fermentation process when the alcohol level reaches 6-9% and 60-100 g/L of sugar. The wine is then clarified, filtered and bottled, which gives a slightly sparkling, sweet, alcoholic taste, full of fruit, ideal for desserts!
Where do we find those wines? In Italy in Piedmont (Asti). Other parts of the world also use it, especially in the new world under the name of “Moscato.”
- Carbonation or “Pompe bicyclette”
The simplest and least expensive: the winemaker introduces carbon dioxide into the wine or injects “bubbles” (gas) into the wine. It is used for low-quality sparkling wines.
My recommendations to end 2016 as it should be!
These three wines are produced with the traditional method which, you will have learned, allows for production of the best sparkling wines!
Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaïque, rich Cuvée in a terroir of 350 hectares, spread over some sixty “crus,” representing the entire area of Champagne! As the name suggests: a mosaic of wines, grape varieties, years, aromas and flavors !! (40%), Pinot Noir (35%) and Pinot Meunier (25%).
The Domaine Jacquart was founded in 1964 by thirty winegrowers in order to offer a Champagne of high quality to the amateurs by sharing their strengths: their know-how and an exceptional vineyard!
My favorite Champagne in Quebec for a very reasonable price! It is sold at $ 46.50 CAD in SAQ classic and selection stores.
Recaredo Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2009, a Cava available at CAD $ 36.50 in SAQ stores comes from Penedès, the region of “Spanish Champagne” (Cava), located near Barcelona. This unique estate of 55 hectares, produces exclusively quality Cavas.
I visited the winery at the beginning of 2016, where I was welcomed by one of the brothers Recaredo, Josep, I was dazzled by the sense of detail of this family impassioned by the “terroir” and its will to produce great Cavas! Every action at the field has been thoughtful. Entirely in biodynamics since 2010, they practice, for example, “Poinetage,” an ancient technique which consists of stirring the bottle during the second fermentation between 2 to 5 times depending on the cuvée, a process which is extremely rare and which ensures an unrivaled aromatic quality!
The uniqueness of Recaredos is that they select their own yeast, which come naturally from their vines, as well as aging on lees for long periods before selling – between 5 years and 12 years!
This cuvée is a classic blend of Cava: Xarel-lo (46%), Macabeo (40%) and Parellada (14%). To discover!!
This crémant du Jura du domaine André et Mireille Tissot is excellent. You will find it easily in SAQ stores at a very reasonable price: 28,30 $ CAD per bottle !!
“A wine made with love and passion can only create an emotion…” translates perfectly what the Tissot wishes to transmit to the drinkers of their wines. This area of about thirty hectares now works entirely in biodynamics. At Domaine Tissot, the team works hard to create wines with unique personalities, wines that will not leave you untouched…
This vintage, mainly blended with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with a small amount of Poulsard and Trousseau, regional varieties (Jura), stays for 4 months on its lees and then spends 18 months on slats (in a bottle) before sale. Worth buying without hesitation!!
I wish you a Happy Holidays and an Excellent End of the Year! May your Holidays be Sparkled and Happy! Let’s meet in 2017 on the blog! Wishing you lots of Pleasure, Happiness and Delicious Discoveries!!