This year's release was produced from estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes harvested five years ago. The Pinot Noir grapes—ENTAV clone 667—were harvested on August 21 and the Chardonnay grapes—ENTAV clone 95—were harvested on September 16. Both varieties were whole-cluster pressed to avoid skin phenolics then cool-fermented in stainless steel tanks. In May 2018, a cuvée was assembled of 54% Pinot Noir and 46% Chardonnay. Prior to bottling, the cuvée was sweetened and a yeast inoculum was added to provoke fermentation in the bottle and produce the sought-after bubbles. Bottling sparkling wine is especially anxiety inducing as each and every bottle must complete fermentation. Early in our winemaking career we produced a sparkling wine only to discover that some of the bottles fermented and others didn't, which rendered the whole lot unsaleable. Nowadays we build up many gallons of healthy inoculum and the culture is viewed under a microscope several times every day to assess growth and viability; our goal is a million cells in a milliliter of bottled wine.
In August 2022, before disgorging the 2017 Brut, Manuel and Alfredo opened 160 bottles of the same Brut, consolidated the wine, and then added pure cane sugar to make a 68% not-so-simple syrup. During disgorging, we replaced the yeast and wine plug removed from each bottle with 10 ml of this “liqueur de dosage.”
Soon to be disgorged 2017 Brut. A lot of dust accumulates after four years en tirage in a chilly cellar.
On bottling day, we mix our culture, do a cell count and determine how many gallons to add to the cuvée, then mix it into the mother tank. A mixer keeps the yeast equally dispersed so that every bottle receives an equal number of living cells. We've learned that a cool, consistent cellar temperature of about 60°F is optimum for fermentation in the bottle. The wine was disgorged, dosage added then corked in September 2022. Bright citrus-apple flavors are integrated with toasty, fresh bread accents from resting on the yeast for four years.