Sparkling Wine - Bring on The Bubbles!
Bubbly, it’s festive, it’s fun, it’s flavoursome and it is probably the most technical of all the wines in the world, yet so easy to drink! Most sparkling wines are complex, because of the need of two fermentations, one to make the wine and the second to make the bubbles. We are not just talking about Champagne either, the whole wine world is producing it!
Champagne and Crémant from France, Sekt from Germany, Prosecco and Trentodoc from Italy, Cava from Spain, Brut from Lanzarote, more on this further down! There’s also some alternatives which are not to be missed, such as Australian and American sparkling wines and increasing famous are those from England!
Now for the methods behind the bubbles, since sparkling wines were first introduced to the wine world in the 1500’s, a number of different methods have been used, still to this day wine makers are experimenting with different techniques.
Also known as: Méthode Champenoise (only in Champagne!), Méthode Traditionnelle, Methode Cap Classique, Metodo Classico.
This is the likes of Cava, Champagne, Crémant and some types of Sekt and of course Lanzarote’s Brut Natures!
It is the most expensive and time consuming in terms of production, thereby giving it the highest quality. It begins with a base wine (single fermented wine) and then yeast and sugars are added to start the secondary fermentation. Then the wine is bottled and topped with caps. The second fermentation inside the bottle creates around 1 – 2% more alcohol and the Co2 which is created is trapped and absorbed into the wine, carbonating the wine. The yeast then dies in a process called autolysis (more commonly known as self-digestion). The wines are then aged on their lees (the dead yeast cells) for a period of time developing further characteristics. Then comes a process of riddling and disgorging, this is basically removing the dead cells and clearing the wine. The final stage is a dosage of wine and sugar which is added to top the wine up and give it the desired level of sweetness and then the bottle is corked and wired.
Also Known as: Charmat Method, Metodo Italiano
This is the likes of Prosecco and Lambrusco
The Tank method became popular in the 20th Century. The key difference between the tradition method and the tank method is the use of the bottle rather than a tank as the production vessel. With the tank method the secondary fermentation is achieved within the tanks, the Co2 released from fermentation causes the tanks to pressurise, which is then absorbed into the wine achieving the bubbles, the wines are then filtered, dosed and bottled without any aging or lees contact. Making this process much quicker and more affordable. There are typically less characteristics to the wine due to the lack of aging and lees contact. These wines are typically best drunk young.
Pétillant naturel, Bugey Cerdon
The Ancestral method comes from what we believe to be the first sparkling wines made, in the South of France in the mid/late 1500’s. With this winemaking process, the wines are bottled during the primary fermentation, trapping the Co2 in the bottle creating the bubbles, this method is considered a more natural way of producing sparkling wines. Wines made using this method generally are lower in alcohol, around 11 – 12%.
Lanzarote Sparkling Wines
In 1989 Lanzarote landed on the Sparkling Wine map, but only due to an accident! Bodega El Grifo had a batch of Semi-Sweet Malvasía Volcánica which had accidently re-fermented, and they discovered that our native grape could be used to make fantastic fizz!
Since then, El Grifo has made their Sparkling Wine using the Traditional Method, aging the wine on its lees, always for at least two years and with recent vintages even longer. On Lanzarote, the sparkling wines made using this method are known as Brut Nature, which also means during dosage there has been no added sugar.
For many years Bodegas Los Bermejos, have also been producing two sparkling wines. A Malvasia Volcánica Brut Nature produced using the traditional method and aged on the lees for at least 24 months, and also a Rose made in the same way from the Island’s native Listan Negro. A great Sparkling wine for the summer months!
Lanzarote’s sparkling wines are characterised by volcanic freshness, crisp, rich fruit which is balanced by some toasty notes from the lees aging. Bermejo’s Rosado Brut Nature is at the fruitier end of the scale, while still crisp and dry, while El Grifo's Sparking boasts a touch more body and biscuity characteristics thanks to its extra time on the lees. The vintage we currently stock is 2015.
All three make a fantastic and unique alternative to a more typical sparkling wine falling within the same price bracket. For tasting notes, more information or to purchase these wines you will find them online in our Wine Shop now.
A Big Cheers and Best Wishes
The Wine Shop Lanzarote Team