MOG Blog

Sparkling Tour Wraps in Santa Rosa

The Sparkling Tour of California, a week of winemaking presentations along the length of the state, concluded in Sonoma County at the Shone Farm campus of Santa Rosa Junior College on May 25.

The half-day seminar on the techniques and technology for sparkling winemaking was co-hosted by Wines & Vines and Fabien Machard de Gramont, North American General Manager of OenoFrance, with support and presentations from Vivelys, Valentin-Thierion, DIAM closures, and Rack & Riddle Custom Crush Wine Services in Healdsburg, Calif. Previous stops included the Temecula Valley, Santa Maria and Paso Robles.

Consulting enologist Maximilien Bernardeau of SofraLab France explained classic and modern sparkling wine production as practiced at wineries in the Champagne.

Bernardeau stressed “The Rules” of Champagne, from producing high quality base wines, to successful secondary fermentations and bottling practices. At picking, grapes in whole clusters are transported in bins with plenty of “breathing holes” to press as quickly as possible.

Though only sporadic in most winemaking regions, the division of pressed juice into three fractions is still standard in Champagne, and Bernardeau offered photos and data of the brighter, fresher color and quality of base wines produced by the separation of juice fractions for later blending. He also said he’s a firm believer in smaller capacity presses.

Cecilia Cunningham, oenology consultant for Vivelys, discussed the improvement of white and rosé wines for sparkling wine cuvees — the controlled and deliberate oxygenation of the must at pressing. Cunningham explained how the practice could lead to fewer additions being needed, and produce enhanced aromatics in the treated wines. Results from wineries in Chile and France practicing this oxygenation technique were presented alongside control wines showing the variations in organoleptic and phenolic measurements for winemakers to consider.

The event closed with comparative tastings of sparkling wines made from the Charmat method such as Prosecco and from the Traditional Method — Rack & Riddle Brut, MUMM Cordon Rouge, and Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé.

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