By Simon Roberts, Ridgeview Winemaker
Blending sparkling wine involves a very tough day at the office…. sitting in our tasting room looking out over the vines tasting each tank, carefully adding a little of this batch, a little of the other, until we are happy with the selection. We have a number of growers who we work in partnership with, so where possible we keep each variety, from each vineyard, from each grower separate. Different vineyards will bring different characteristics to the wine, depending on elevation, soil type, exposure and age.
For those who have visited Ridgeview you will have noticed we have lots of small tanks even though we only make wine from three grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. It would be very easy to have only large tanks, one for each variety. Using small tanks means we can use a little from each vineyard to create a complex and expressive wine.
Once we have decided on the blend, we must physically make the wines. We have several large blending tanks which we transfer into. After blending we have to cold stabilise the wines which involves chilling the it to -4c for 72 hours. We can then very gently filter the wine, leaving it clean, clear and stable.
Finally, we get the chance to put the wine in the bottle and create the fizz. This is done through secondary fermentation in the bottle. The morning of bottling we add some yeast and enough sugar to take the wine to 12% alcohol. Rather than a cork at this point we use a crown cap, similar to a beer bottle cap, to seal the wine, so that none of the CO2 created escapes, trapping the bubbles.
The bottles are taken down into our cellar and stored flat in caverns, naturally keeping the wine at around 15c, which is the most sustainable way of storing. It is here that they slowly go through secondary fermentation and the wait begins…..
If you are interested in learning more about winemaking, why not book one of our tour and tastings