Behind the Bubbles
The Journey from Grape To Glass
The journey from grape to glass, from harvesting to labelling...
First Stage: Making the Base Wine
Grapes are picked and loaded into the press by hand to minimise damage.
Our Coquard PAI presses use a gentle horizontal pressing motion to extract the best quality juice from the grapes without extracting the bitter compounds from the skins. The juice is separated into two parts: the free run and initial pressing (the Cuvée) and the end pressing (the Taille).
The juice is chilled to 5°C and left in tanks for up to 24 hours to allow the grape solids to settle at the bottom of the tank, from where they can be removed.
Yeast is added to turn the grape juice into dry, still wine. The yeast feeds on the natural grape sugar in the juice, creating alcohol and imparting new aromas.
After the alcoholic fermentation has finished, the malolactic fermentation converts the malic acid in the wine into lactic acid, softening and mellowing the overall acidity of the wine and creating further aromas.
The wines are left in the tanks on the lees (the dead yeast) for a minimum of six months to gain extra flavour and aromatic complexity.
Second stage: creating the bubbles
The wines in each tank are tasted separately over several weeks and the winemaking team will meet in the spring to decide which will blended together for each cuvée.
TIRAGE AND BOTTLING
Yeast and sugar are added to the blended base wines for each cuvée during bottling to kick-start a second alcoholic fermentation. Each bottle is sealed with a crown cap.
The second fermentation inside the bottle produces more alcohol and carbon dioxide gas that cannot escape through the crown cap, creating the bubbles. A 75cl bottle contains 4.5l of carbon dioxide.
Once the second fermentation has finished, the yeast inside the bottle starts to perish slowly (autolysis) releasing compounds that bring greater flavour and aroma complexity and structure to the wine. The length of time the wine ages on the lees (dead yeast) can last from one to five years.
After ageing the dead yeast sediment must be removed. The bottles are slowly turned upside down, allowing the sediment to pass down into the neck of each bottle.
The neck of each bottle is put into freezing brine at -30°C, creating an ice plug containing the sediment. The bottle is then opened, allowing the inner pressure to expel the ice plug.
The bottle is topped up with a carefully selected aged wine and sugar solution before it is closed again with a cork and wire cage.
Bottles are cleaned, labelled and prepared for sale.