The romance of champagne procedures or everything you wanted to know about disgorgement
Riddling and disgorgement - then and now
First of all, we have the great lady of Champagne, Madame Clicquot, to thank for the very idea of disgorgement. In her day, champagne was served cloudy and full of sediment, and to improve its commercial viability, she felt that it should be clearer. In 1816, she conceived of a simple wooden frame in which she could place the bottles with their necks down, so that the sediment of the lees would collect at the cork, and the process of turning the bottles at an angle and shaking them for several weeks for this purpose became 'riddling'. Finally, the upside-down bottle, with the sediment visibly accumulated in the neck of the bottle, was opened, held in that position just long enough for the sediment to be removed, before being quickly put back upright, the expedition liqueur and the missing part of the Champagne wine were added, and it was ready to drink. This used to be a purely manual process, requiring mastery and a great deal of experience.
A decorative example of the riddling rack for sparkling wines in the Medot cellar.
On the label of the classic sparkling wine, you will find not only the date of bottling, but also the date of disgorgement. The life of a classic sparkling wine is measured in two periods: one is related to the time of slow maturation in the bottle on the yeasts, i.e. the time from bottling to disgorgement, and the other is the period of faster maturation, when the yeasts no longer protect the wine from the oxygen in the bottle, i.e. the time from disgorgement to the time when you open the bottle. This will give you an idea of the maturity and freshness of the sparkling wine in your hands.
Whether it is better to open classic sparkling wines shortly after they have been disgorged or whether it is better to age them further is a matter on which experts differ. In our opinion, sparkling wine is best enjoyed at least a few months after disgorgement, when it has settled down and regained its balance. However, a kind of magic formula developed by Bollinger says that champagnes and classic sparkling wines are good for as long as they have been aged on yeast, so if you work out the time from bottling to disgorgement, you can calculate the latest time your sparkling wine or champagne should be consumed.
After disgorgement the bottles will rest for a short time, then get a label and a decorative cap over a cork and then they will be on their way to creating unforgettable memories for people.
These days, autumn is in full swing in Brda. If you come to the area, welcome to the Medot Homestead, where you can learn even more about our classic method of sparkling wine production.