The Journey from Grape to Glass
First Stage: Making the Base Wine
Grapes are harvested and loaded into the press by hand to minimize loading damage.
The Coquard PAI press uses a gentle horizontal pressing motion to extract the best quality juice from the grapes without extracting the compounds from the skins. A split is made according to the characteristics of the juice (Cuvée and Taille) and separated accordingly in a tailor-made container called a belon.
The juice stays for a minimum of 24 hours at 5° C in a tank in order to settle the grape solids to the bottom of the tank.
Yeast is added to the juice to turn it into wine. The sugar contained in the juice is used by the yeast to create alcohol and new aromas.
A selected malolactic strain is added to convert malic acid into lactic acid, which softens and mellows the acidity of the wine and creates new aromas.
The wines are aged in tanks for a minimum of 6 months to gain extra aromas from contact with the dead biomass (yeast lees) before being separated from them.
The wines are sampled and tasted separately and a blending (assemblage) meeting is held to determine the composition of Hambledon and Mill Down. This is a specialised process and involves the considerable experience of the Head Winemaker.
The wines are held at a low temperature (-5° C) for a period of 5 days in order to crystallize excess tartaric acid so that it doesn’t crystallize in the bottle.
Second Stage: Creating the Bubbles
Tirage and Bottling
A preparation of yeast and sugar is added to the wine before being bottled. A crown cap is used to seal the bottle to contain the gas created inside the bottle.
The added sugar present in the wine is converted into more alcohol and CO2 gas and is kept in the bottle and it is this which is responsible for creating the bubbles. A 750ml bottle contains 4.5L of CO2.
When the second fermentation is finished, the yeast present inside the bottle starts to slowly perish (autolysis) and release compounds that develop other aromas needed to enhance the complexity and structure. This can be last from 1 to 5 years.
The bottles are slowly turned upside down in order to bring the dead yeast deposit to the neck.
When riddling is complete, the neck of each bottle is brought down to -30° C to freeze the deposit which is then expelled by the inner pressure when opened.
Immediately after disgorging, each bottle is topped up with a carefully selected aged wine and sugar solution then a cork is inserted, secured by a wire cage.