We invite you to explore the Méthode Champenoise process in depth below.
From the moment our Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are brought into the white wine facility, all procedures are carefully orchestrated to ensure pristine fruit condition and optimum flavor integrity. At every step of the winemaking process, we scrupulously keep individual vineyard lots separate for complete terroir transparency. All sparkling fruit is whole cluster pressed through a meticulous press cycle, fluctuating based on the growing season and fruit development.
All of the sparkling base wines are sourced from our most esteemed vineyards and vinified separately in Oak cask or barrel. Our cask program began with the start of our Sparkling program and is optimal fermentation kinetics on white wines. Yeast is meticulous selected based on juice expression. Bâtonnage, the French term for stirring settled lees back into wine, is performed during primary fermentation.
Domaine Serene’s extensive barrel program further supports our commitment to terroir transparency and the art of blending. We work with a variety of different French coopers to achieve stylistic diversity which supports our quality goals. We hand-select barrels representing a wide range of sizes, oak forests and toast levels, and Oak casks. Along with meticulous yeast selection and comprehensive micro-cru fermentation management, this intricate barrel program contributes yet another layer of complexity to our wines. In addition, we are holding on to reserve wines in the best vintages dating back to our first sparkling vintage to utilize in our Multi-Vintage sparkling wines to maintain consistency and quality.
The art of blending is the hallmark of the Domaine Serene winemaking philosophy. Our winemaking team consistently tastes individual barrels of every lot throughout the barrel-aging process to determine ideal blends for our sparkling wines. Meticulous blending from selected barrels allows our team to craft elegant, balanced and precise wines year after year.
5Tirage & Secondary Fermentation
It is at this stage that we add the Liqueur de Tirage - A solution of wine, sugar, and yeast is added to the base wine just prior to bottling under crown caps, to begin the traditional method of making Champagne or Methode Champenoise. The addition of the Liqueur de Tirage triggers the secondary fermentation which gives sparkling wine its bubbles. Tirage fermentation is carefully monitored and completed in ideal conditions at exacting temperatures regulated by the new white winery.
6Aging en Tirage
After tirage, each individual wine is aged in the perfect environment until Ken, Grace and our winemakers are satisfied it is ready for the next step - Disgorgement. There is no set schedule based on commercial demands, and our sparkling wines are aged at the winery for a minimum of 4 years before release. Because of this intensive, disciplined approach, Domaine Serene wines are ready to drink upon release but will continue to reward additional aging.
In making sparkling wine, the process of moving the sediment remaining in the bottle from the second fermentation to rest in the neck of the bottle for easy removal. The process of riddling is part of the méthode traditionelle and was developed by Madame Clicquot (Veuve Clicquot) in the early 1800s to remove the cloudy lees from the bottles. The bottles are loaded in a horizontal position onto wooden racks called pupitres. At this point, the sediment rests on the side of the bottle. As the bottles are riddled, or given a sharp quarter-turn daily and gradually tilted upside-down, the sediment works its way to the bottle neck.
After the riddling process, when the sediment settles in the neck of the bottle, the neck is then dipped into a brine solution and frozen. Working quickly, the bottle is turned upright and the crown cap removed. The plug of frozen sediment is ejected by the pressure of the carbon dioxide. This is the final stage before the sparkling wines are given their liqueur d'expedition.
9Dosage & Corking
The liqueur d'expedition, also known as dosage, is a small amount of wine (usually mixed with sugar) that is added back to the bottle once the yeast sediment that collects in the neck of the bottle is disgorged. This addition balances the acidity and adds complexity and harmony to the finished wine. It is only at this stage, after four or more years, that the bottle of sparkling wine will be sealed with a cork and labeled for sale. The labor of love that is Méthode Champenoise is rewarded ten-fold in the elegance of the final product.
The finished wine is laid down and tasted frequently until optimal release, never rushing.
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