There are 4 main methods of making sparkling wine:
1. carbonation - like soft drink.
2. tank fermentation (Charmat method) - the wine is put through
secondary fermentation in a bulk tank and then is bottled under
3. transfer method - the wine is put through secondary
fermentation in the bottle, then all the bottles are emptied
into a tank and the yeast sediment is filtered out. It is then
rebottled under pressure.
4. Champagne method (Methode Champenoise) - the wine is put
through secondary fermentation in the bottle, and the wine stays
in this bottle with the naturally produced bubbles until the
consumer drinks it. The means of getting the yeast out of the
bottle is detailed below.
All Anderson Sparkling wines are made using the traditional
Once the base wine is made, it is prepared for bottling in a
process called "tirage". Basically, the wine is mixed with an
active yeast culture and a specific quantity of sugar so that
once it is in bottle it will ferment. Carbon dioxide gas is a by
product of fermentation and this is trapped inside the sealed
bottles, producing bubbles.
This secondary fermentation in the bottles is over in a few
weeks (all the sugar is used up by the yeast). The longer the
yeast cells are left in the bottles after the fermentation is
complete, the more flavour, complexity and texture they give to
the wine. Wines which have been stored on yeast lees for a
number of years are very creamy and complex.
The yeast sediment must be removed from the bottles before the
wine is consumed. This is best done soon before consumption, as
after a year or two of having the yeast taken out the wine will
start to lose freshness and bubbles. At Anderson winery we are
continually doing the following process so that whatever you buy
from us is fresh.
the yeast needs to be accumulated in the neck of the bottle. The
wine remains in the same bottle it was bottled in, and only the
yeast is taken out.
This is achieved using wooden racks ("riddling racks"
- pictured) which
hold the bottles at an angle. The bottles are turned and tilted
in a specific way to get the yeast to slowly accumulate in the
neck over several weeks. This is called "remuage" or "riddling".
Some larger wineries use a faster, less labour intensive method
involving stacking the bottles in large wire crates which are
automatically turned by a machine.
Once all the yeast is settled in the neck it is time to remove
it. This is called "disgorging". The bottles are removed from
the racks and kept upside down to prevent mixing of the yeast
sediment. We put them in the coolroom overnight to prevent them
gushing when they are opened.
The next morning the bottles are loaded into the "neck freezer",
which contains a freezing solution at about minus 22 degrees C.
Just the necks of the bottles are submerged in the solution, and
this freezes the sediment in about 5 minutes. The bottles can
then be turned up the right way without mixing up the sediment,
and the cap taken off. The pressure in the bottle blows out the
frozen plug of yeast.
A small amount of liqueur is then added (even brut Champagne has
about 8g/L sugar as the bubbles make the wine taste excessively
dry). We just use sugar syrup as the liqueur, but other
wineries sometimes use a sweetened older wine.
The bottle is then topped to the right height and the cork and
wire put on. Then it's ready to drink!
See disgorging in action in the below video.