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THE DISGORGEMENT

 

Disgorgement (dégorgement in French) is a step in making champagne and other bottle fermented sparkling wines. After the second fermentation the wine rests on the yeast cells, called lees, for a period of time, usually between 15 and 36 months (though most producers age for much longer then the minimum). This is called aging sur lie, or on the lees.

 

Disgorgement - the process of taking these lees or sediment out of the bottle.

 



 

Before the disgorgement step, takes place the individual bottles are riddled at an angle, so that the lees (sediment) accumulate and collect in the neck of the bottle. This makes for easier and more uniform removal.

 

Traditionally this was a manual process, but today it is automatized. The neck of the bottle is placed in a solution of freezing brine, which freezes the lees. Once the bottle is opened, the pressure from the bubbles in the bottle push out the frozen sediment, after which the dosage is added and the wine is re-corked and packaged for sale.

 

Freshly disgorged and without any addition of sulphur dioxide for stabilization or any expedition liquor for the residual sugar, a quality sparkling wine shows the purest aromas of wine and lees.

 

During the ageing process, the lees are breaking down. Process known as “Autolyses”- adding besides wine aromas, also nuts, toast and butter flavours, for example.

 

A sparkling wine might stay dozens of years on lees if the bottles hold the pressure. Certainly, the lees impact on the wine rises.

 

Degorjare  |  the Disgorgement

 

After the disgorgement, a sparkling wine evolves as a still wine. For the complexity, it is recommended to wait one-two years following the disgorgement, before consuming it.

The disgorgement date thus marks the date that the champagne or sparkling wine received completed its production cycle. It is not an indication of vintage or a sell by date.Cramposie Selectionata

 

The whole idea of putting disgorgement dates on Champagne and other sparkling wines is that a particular batch or cuvée of champagne will not all be disgorged at the same time. The bottles disgorged first will taste slightly different than those disgorged later. If you have two bottles of seemingly the same Champagne without disgorgement dates, you really have no idea whether or not they are from the same disgorgement batch.

 

Cramposie Selectionata, Stirbey Winery, 2011

After the base wine fermentation, the wine was kept for 8 months in old Romanian wood barrel (50 %) and in stainless steel tanks (50 %).

It was bottled with a small addition of sugar and yeasts and then fermented in bottles. It was kept for 38 months on the bottles and 3-4 weeks on a wood rack for clarification.

 

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