Why fruit for sparkling wines is harvested first..

Many folks have asked us over the years why we harvest the fruit for our sparkling wines before all else.  The truth is it is actually a matter of taste, rather than necessity and it isn’t as complicated as one may think.

The world’s sparkling palate has been trained for centuries by the wines of a cool growing climate – Champagne.  Those wines are (generally) naturally high in acid and low in sugar because the growing season is not warm enough, long enough or dry enough to ripen the grapes further.

Sparkling wine can be made from low acid wines, but they lack the zest and refreshing effects of the carbonation and acid working together.  Sparkling wine can also be made from higher alcohol wines, but this tends to dull the wines, giving an out-of-balance, flabby impression.  It also affects the bubbles in a way that makes the wine seem as if it lacks effervescent due to the weight of the wine.  Also, the higher the alcohol the greater the likelihood of secondary fermentation not going completely dry, or finishing.  (The secondary fermentation is the process in which the wine achieves its bubbles by fermenting in bottle, without access to oxygen to release the CO2 (by-product of fermentation)).  The wine would have a hard time going completely dry because with higher alcohol and sugar levels the yeast population could die and therefore fermentation would not finish, even worse-this could vary bottle by bottle.

This is why you may notice that Laetitia is one of the first wineries on the Central Coast to begin harvest every year and boy is it a thrill to come to work on the first morning of harvest when Sparkling Winemaker Dave Hickey does his first press, tests the Brix, or sugar level, and has his first taste of the brand new vintage.  No scores, no outside opinions, no w0rd-of-mouth on what the vintage has brought, just a man tasting his year’s work and smirking at the possibilities..

 

If you have any wine-related questions you want answered, send them our way!  Anything we can do to demystify the world of wine is a step in the right direction!  jackie@laetitiawine.com

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