Right now, the Winery is busy disgorging the new releases of our sparkling wine. This critical process in sparkling wine started way back in 2019 when we began to determine the dosage levels for our wines. This activity occurs over many months, with our Winemaker Jonathan Medard leading the Rathfinny team through the process.
Dosage is when we make a final addition to the sparkling wine, to help balance the acidity with some sweetness from a liqueur we make up. However, it does take a while for the dosage to marry to the final wine, so we taste different levels, put down trials for several months and revisit to be sure we have the correct amount. Rathfinny has typically only a minimal addition of sugar, to help balance the wine, highlight the fruit profile without adding too much sweetness. It’s a fine line to tread and the Rathfinny team, spend a long-time fine-tuning the wine to ensure everyone is happy. While the dosage trials are coming together, we had to move the wines which are stored horizontally in our climate-controlled cellar to the production facility. Here the wines are put through a precise process known as riddling, where the wine is carefully spun and turned until vertical and all the yeast lees accumulate in the neck of the bottle.
When all the wine is riddled, it is ready to undergo disgorgement. At Rathfinny we have a state-of-the-art disgorging line, and in the first stage, a robot picks up the bottles (105 at a time) and places the neck into a -24 Deg C glycol bath. Here the lees and small amount of wine are frozen solid, and once this has happened, the bottles turned, so they sit upright, and the glycol is blown and washed away.
The bottle then enters the decapper, which flicks the cap of the bottle. The pressure of the bottle, which is over 6 atmospheres, blows off the cap and ejects the frozen plug of yeast and wine. The next machine along removes a small amount of wine, injects the required dosage and then tops the wine.
The liqueur we use is a mixture of RCGM a neutral grape juice concentrate and sulphite. This process will ensure the wine has the right balance, and enough preservatives to ensure it reaches the customer in the best possible condition. After this the wine has a cork inserted and a wire hood to hold the cork in place. At Rathfinny, we are using Mytik DIAM, a technical cork that is cork taint free and provides a superior and consistent seal. Once sealed, the bottle is laser marked with the disgorgement data and shaken to ensure all the liqueur is well mixed through. We are currently disgorging over 1000 bottles an hour, and in the next few weeks, these will be labelled and boxed. The wine will then rest, to allow the wine to recover from the disgorging process and balance the dosage. It will then be in the best possible condition for release in the middle of 2020. It was particularly exciting this year, as we are disgorging the very first release of the Rathfinny Classic Cuvée, which is a friendly and stylish addition to the line-up.