disgorging sparkling wine
Posted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 13:01
I had a batch of 6 bottles which had been primed and matured for a year. I decided to use the neck-freezing method to remove the yeast which had settled in the cavity of the stoppers of the inverted bottles. I left the bottles outside to chill on a very frosty night. I crushed the ice from 2 trays and mixed 1 part salt to 3 parts ice in a plastic wine cooler but this wasn't quite enough to cover the yeast, so I transferred the mixture to a 340 g honey jar and put this in the cooler. The mixture cooled to -21 c and the yeast semi solidified after 7 minutes immersion. I placed the first bottle upright and carefully removed the wire cage. On previous occasions the stopper took off like a rocket, but not this time. I had to use a jar opener to ease it up and it went off like a damp squib. I inserted a new stopper, wired it down and proceeded to the next bottle. Same thing. The last bottle was slightly different. It was a Bollinger which can accept a beer sized crown cap, which I had used. This was very easy to remove but I had to shake out the plug of yeast and remove the residue with my little finger before fitting a new cap. I left this one in the fridge overnight. In the morning I removed the cap and there was a slight hiss. I poured a glass and there was no foaming, but there was a definite sparkle. The wine was delicious with that taste you only get from mature yeast autolysis and a degree of sweetness which explained the low pressure. The in-bottle fermentation had stopped short of completion due to alcohol intolerance. The grapes used were isabella, which are said to have a strawberry flavour and were once used to make a Sicilian wine called fragolino (little strawberry). The grape variety was banned from commercial production in France and Italy, the real reason being that its vigorous productivity and complete immunity to mildew threatened traditional varieties. You can still buy fragolino, but it's made from bland grapes and strawberry flavouring. I grow my own. My stuff is the real thing!