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Kathleen Inman
August 18, 2009 | Kathleen Inman

Tiny bubbles in the wine

This year will be the first time I have attempted to make a sparkling wine. I love experimenting and learning new things, and although I have wanted to make a sparkling from Olivet Grange since I first began making our wine in 2002, this is the first year I have had the courage and resources to do so.

On Sunday when I was inspecting the vineyard, I randomly sampled a few berries and was surprised that the sugars read between 15 and 17. This morning I went and sampled properly to try and get a more accurate reading. Armed with a handful of one quart Ziploc bags and a sharpie pen, I set down the rows to sample by clone. I have five different clones of Pinot Noir in our Olivet Grange Vineyard and this morning I only sampled the 114, 115 and 777 because those are in my mind the most elegant of the five clones and the ones I plan to include in the Endless Crush Bubbly. For an accurate sample I picked 100 berries of each clone from across the blocks, taking form both the morning side on one row and the afternoon side opposite. The results were a bit of a surprise. Clone 114 was 17.7 BRIX, 114 was 17.5 BRIX and 777 was 19.5 BRIX (Yikes!)

The flavors are very delicate and the acids very high; although not quite ready yet, within a few days I reckon they will be ready for harvest. I plan to harvest 5 tons which will be about 325 cases. I have arranged to make the wine in Hopland at Rack & Riddle. Friends who were formerly with J Vineyards, whose sparkling wines I have always enjoyed, are now up at this wonderful new facility for custom crush. I shall aim to make base wines for a blanc de noir, and I hope to introduce the delicate pink color by using a red Pinot Noir base wine from our vineyard in the “Liqueur d’ Expeditions” (also known as the dosage, which is added to encourage the second fermentation in the bottle which will produce the tiny bubbles in the wine)

I will keep you posted on this adventure!


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