Vineyard Year – Tirage

March 19th, 2018

The unmistakable sound of bottles rattling signifies a significant milestone in our journey; the much awaited moment when the vineyard owner can at last hold the almost final product of their labours and the end is at last in sight. ‘Tirage’ or the ‘capture of the sparkle’, is the term used to describe the process of making a Sparkling Wine from the still wine produced through our first vinification cycle. It is achieved via a second alcoholic fermentation, known as ‘method traditional’, which gives off carbon dioxide (CO2) which is trapped in the bottle, so that it remains dissolved within the wine to produce the all important future bubbles and foam.

The winemaker adds to the wine a preparation called the’ liqueur de tirage’ of dried yeast placed in a mixture of still wine, water, sugar and nitrogen, necessary for the cellular multiplication. Once filled, leaving a gap of around 5cl under the closure, the Sparkling Wine bottles are sealed with a temporary ‘crown cap’, stacked head to tail in wire cages and transferred to a temperature controlled cellar, where they are stored horizontally for a minimum of nine months to age, at a fresh and constant temperature of between 9° and 12° C all year round, to ensure the creation of a fine and long-lasting sparkle. Aging in the second vinification cycle allows the superb flavour of the wine to develop, known by the French as ‘gout de champagne’. The bottling equipment usually comprises a pallet unloader, an empty bottle washer, a filler and capsule machines, as well as a loader for placing the bottles on pallets. The special Sparkling Wine bottles used in the process are designed to resist a pressure of 12 atmospheres as the pressure builds within, to create the sound that is so characteristic when a bottle is at last opened.

 

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