We use the Méthode Traditionnelle process for our Ocean Aged Vintage Cuvée, the same process used in France to make Champagne. It’s a meticulous yet beautiful process.
After the grapes are picked and whole bunch pressed (~620L/T), the juice is fermented in French oak barriques, forming a base wine or ‘cuvée’. Once the primary fermentation is complete, the wine is stirred weekly on yeast lees to build body and complexity. At this point, some winemakers assemble a cuvée of different vintages, vineyards and grape varieties. Our cuvée is a field blend so the vineyard and vintage conditions dictate the final blend that goes to bottle.
Non-Vintage Champagne requires a minimum 15 months maturation, Vintage Champagne a minimum 3 years, and the best Champagne houses 6-8 years. We age for a minimum 5 years with 1-2 years submerged in the ocean. The gentle motion of ocean currents keeps the yeast lees in suspension, thereby increasing the surface area to volume ratio of yeast to wine. This process is known as yeast autolysis and is a vital component in shaping the wines’ mouth feel and developing flavours like freshly baked bread, pastry and brioche.
Once retrieved from the ocean, the bottles are ready for disgorging. Each bottle is riddled by hand with twice daily rotations for 6-8 weeks and a gradual inclination until the bottle is fully inverted. This facilitates the movement of yeast lees into the neck of the bottle leaving the remainder of the wine brilliantly clear.
The neck of the bottle is frozen, the crown seal removed and the plug of ice containing the lees is shot from the bottle – remember the 6 Bar pressure! Immediately after disgorging but before final closure, the wine is topped with a precise dose of reserve wine, sugar (2-5g/L depending on vintage), sulphur dioxide and a very small amount of Cognac.
Our Ocean Aged Vintage Cuvée is given another 6 months bottle maturation prior to release which enables the dose to fully integrate with the wine. The bottles’ exterior is preserved in its raw and unique state making each bottle one of a kind.