Wine Basics

Wine Basics

How to Serve Sparkling Wine

CHILL IT
Sparkling wine is best when served cool (45 to 55 degrees). The best way to chill sparkling wine is to place the bottle in a bucket filled equal amounts of ice and cold water; let sit for 30 minutes. Or chill the wine in the refrigerator for three hours.

OPEN THE BOTTLE
Thoroughly dry the bottle with a towel.

Remove the foil covering the cork by pulling on the tear tab. Discard the foil. Do not remove the wire hood from the cork.

With your hand securely on the top of the cork, pull down the wire tab that secures the hood; untwist the tab by turning it counter clockwise six times. Loosen the bottom so that the wire does not catch on the lip of the bottle.

Place a folded cloth napkin over the cork and wire hood. Grasp the neck of the bottle over the napkin with your left hand and place your thumb securely over the top of the wine cork. Tilt the bottle away from yourself and others.

Still grasping the cork and wire hood over the cloth napkin, slowly twist the tilted bottle – not the cork.

As you turn the bottle, the pressure of the bubbles will push the cork out. Keep a firm grip on the cork and gently let it ease out of the bottle. Try tilting the edge of the cork closest to you to allow the gas to escape slowly off the side.

The cork should come out with a sigh, not a loud pop! Pour into a flute or coupe. Enjoy.

OTHER HELPFUL HINTS
Never use a corkscrew to open a bottle of bubbly If you’re having trouble loosening the cork, run the neck of the bottle under hot water. With a proper reclosure sparkling wine will stay effervescent for three days in the refrigerator.

Sparkling Winemaking

From the vineyards to the wine in the glass, Domaine Chandon marries the best of French tradition with new world innovation. In the style of Old World apprenticeships, our California-based winemakers have honed their craft with the winery’s founders who brought proprietary yeast strains from France and knowledge of the art of blending.

Chandon’s Napa Valley winery uses centuries-old champagne methods and the traditional grape varieties of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, yet showcases the rich fruit flavors of California’s vibrant regional character in its sparkling wines.

After the grapes are gently pressed, the juice is separated into two to three lots and remains that way through primary fermentation. It is then blended and bottled along with yeast and sugar to achieve the second fermentation that makes méthode traditionnelle wines effervescent.

During this period the wines develop richness and complexity from aging sur lie, which varies from 12 to 15 months for our classic tier wines to five seven years or more for our prestige cuvées. The wine is then clarified by riddling, a process which moves the yeast sediment to the neck of the bottle. The necks are frozen, and the yeast is expelled in a process called disgorgement. To balance the acidity before applying the cork, each bottle is topped off with a small amount of liqueur, sugar dissolved in reserve wine, also known as the dosage. The wine is then aged additional months before release.

Still Winemaking

PINOT MEUNIER
Our Pinot Meunier grapes are handpicked at night. They are then are sorted and any defective berries or clusters are removed. We use 20 to 100 percent whole cluster fermentation to create our Pinot Meunier wines. Whole cluster fermentation is a traditional method of fermentation where whole bunches are placed into the open-top tank. These whole clusters add a lifted fruity note while spiciness comes from the grape stem. These wines are fermented in open top fermenters using their native yeast and the must undergoes regular punchdowns. Once alcoholic fermentation is complete, the wines are aged in large format barrels where they undergo malolactic fermentation naturally in a cool cellar. The wines are aged in barrel for 10 months before being racked, blended, and bottled.

PINOT NOIR
After Pinot Noir grapes are handpicked at night, individual berries are sorted for defects using a high-tech optical sorting system. The fruit is added to open top fermenters without the use of a pump. All of the lots are fermented using native yeasts. While the wines are actively fermenting, they are treated to punch downs and the occasional délestage, or racking. After the wines have finished fermentation, they are transferred to 228L French-oak barrels (about 30 percent new), where the wines undergo malolactic fermentation naturally in a cool cellar. The wines are aged in barrel for 18 months before being racked, blended, and bottled.

CHARDONNAY
Our Chardonnay grapes are handpicked at night under lights after rigorous selection in the vineyard. The fruit is whole-cluster pressed and the juice is barely settled before undergoing fermentation in French-oak barrels. We use about 30 percent new barrels. During fermentation, some of the lots are treated to battonage, or stirring of the lees. All of the lots undergo malolactic fermentation and are aged on their gross lees for 16 months. The wines are bottled without filtration.

CABERNET SAUVIGNON
Our Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are picked at night and individual berries are sorted by a state-of-the-art optical sorter and added to closed-top tanks. These wines undergo a three-day cold soak prior to the start of fermentation and we typically finish fermentation with an extended maceration of up to two weeks. When we have achieved the desired fruit profile, the wines are drained and transferred to French oak barrels (40 percent new), where they are aged for 20 months.

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