Vineyard Year – Disgorging

March 19th, 2018

Once a skilled manual process, where the crown cap and the lees were removed without losing large quantities of the bottles contents. Modern disgorgement however is a highly automated process involving a machine which freezes a small amount of the liquid in the neck of each bottle where the lees has collected following Riddling, removes the crown cap briefly allowing the pressure within the bottle to push out this plug of ice before resealing the bottle. Immediately after disgorging and just before that distinctive cork is inserted, the liquid level in the bottle is topped up with liqueur d’expédition which comprises base wine and a little sugar known as dosage which will determine the sweetness and balance the acidity of the wine, since the sugar previously added at the tirage stage was consumed during the second fermentation. Finally the bottle is corked and the cork wired down to secure the high internal pressure of the carbon dioxide. The sharp intake of oxygen that occurs when the wine is disgorged adds a welcome note of freshness that highlights the wine’s complexity, but at this stage the wine is also described as ‘shocked’ and needs a further period of rest before it is finally ready for the neck to be covered by the distinctive foil and the bottle labelled before storing in cases ready for shipping.

In the final analysis, the long and complicated journey by which our wine arrives at your table feels little short of miraculous. The vagaries of the weather and the perils of numerous pests have been safely negotiated under the stewardship of the vine grower while the vine, so harshly pruned in January, miraculously offers up a bountiful crop in October as if from nowhere, to the growers ultimate delight. Then aided by the skill of the professional winemaker, equally miraculous transformations seem to occur at a minute level within every bottle, to transform delicious grape juice into exceptional Sparkling Wine. We hope that this brief insight into one of our years has added extra understanding and pleasure, as you taste our wine and we hope you will take time to visit us to experience, first hand, a day in the life at English Oak Vineyard.

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