The Betty, our flagship California sparkling brut wine, is made from 100% Champagne grape varietals. The grapes for this bright, versatile, refreshing wine are thoughtfully sourced from sustainable vineyards across the Central Valley of California.
What are Champagne grape varietals?
When it comes to champagne, it's all about the grapes, baby! These tiny little berries pack a big punch in terms of flavor and are the backbone of this beloved bubbly. So, without further ado, let's dive into the world of champagne grape varietals.
First up, we have the queen of the champagne grapes: Chardonnay. This white grape varietal is known for its delicate flavors of apple, pear, and citrus. It's often used as the base for high-end champagnes and adds a touch of class to any occasion. But don't let its delicate nature fool you, Chardonnay can stand up to the boldest of flavors, making it a versatile addition to any champagne blend.
Next up, we have the king of the champagne grapes: Pinot Noir. This red grape varietal adds body and structure to champagnes, and is often used as the primary grape in many non-vintage blends. The flavors of red fruit and spice that Pinot Noir brings to the table are simply delicious and give champagne that certain "je ne sais quoi".
But wait, there's more! Introducing Pinot Meunier, the wild child of champagne grapes. This varietal is known for its fruity, floral notes and is often used as a complement to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in champagne blends. It adds a certain playfulness and youthfulness to the final product and is adored by many a champagne aficionado.
Now, let's not forget about the dark horse of the champagne grape world: Pinot Blanc. This grape varietal is not as well-known as the others, but it adds a nice acidity to the blend and can help bring balance to a champagne. Plus, it has a unique and subtle flavor that makes it a nice addition to any champagne blend.
Last but not least, we have the new kid on the block: Petit Meslier. This grape varietal has been around for centuries, but was all but forgotten until recently. It's making a comeback thanks to its unique and complex flavors. It's still a rare find in champagne blends, but keep an eye out for it, it's definitely worth a try!
In summary, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, and Petit Meslier are the main grape varietals used in champagne production. Each varietal brings its own unique flavor profile, while complementing each other perfectly to make the champagne we all know and love. It's like a tasty little symphony in a bottle, and a perfect pair for any occasion that calls for a little sparkle.
How are Pinot Noir grapes made into sparkling brut, like in The Betty?
Introducing the star of the sparkling wine show: Pinot Noir. This grape varietal is known for its silky smooth texture and flavors of red fruit, making it a popular choice among winemakers.
But don't let its delicate flavors fool you, Pinot Noir grapes are finicky little creatures that can be difficult to grow. They require the perfect balance of sun and shade, and can be affected by everything from weather to pests. But, when grown correctly, these grapes pack a punch of flavor that can make even the most discerning wine connoisseur swoon.
When used in sparkling wine production, Pinot Noir grapes bring a sense of structure and depth to the final product. It's a grape varietal that can stand up to the bubbles and still maintain its unique flavor profile. In fact, many non-vintage sparkling wines are made primarily with Pinot Noir grapes, as it gives them that perfect balance of fruitiness and acidity.
Pinot Noir grapes are a beloved varietal in sparkling wine production. They are known for their unique flavors and silky smooth texture, despite being finicky to grow. The grape, when grown correctly, can stand up to the bubbles and still maintain its unique flavor profile, making it a perfect addition to any sparkling wine blend.
Pinot Noir grapes are made into sparkling brut using the traditional method of winemaking known as Méthode Champenoise. The process begins with the grapes being harvested by hand, and then gently pressed to extract the juice. The juice is then fermented in stainless steel tanks to create the base wine.
Once the base wine is made, the winemaker will then select the best barrels or tanks to use for the next step in the process, called the secondary fermentation. This is where the bubbles are created. The wine is blended with a mixture of yeast and sugar, known as the liqueur de tirage. This mixture is added to the wine, which is then bottled and sealed with a crown cap. The bottles are stored horizontally and placed in cellars for a minimum of 12 months, at a cool temperature, to undergo secondary fermentation where the yeast will consume the sugar and produce the bubbles.
After this the sparkling wine is disgorged, where the yeast sediment is removed. The bottles are then corked and caged, and then left to age for a few months or a few years, depending on the style of brut being made. The longer the aging process, the more complex the wine will be.
Once the winemaker is satisfied with the aging process, the wine is ready to be enjoyed. This method of winemaking is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, but the result is a complex and delicious sparkling wine that is both elegant and refreshing, with the unique Pinot Noir character.
How are Champagne grapes grown and used in California?
Champagne grapes, specifically Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, are grown in California using a variety of different methods. The growing conditions in California are quite different from those in the Champagne region of France, so winemakers have had to adapt their methods accordingly.
One method is called the "Champagne Method" or "Methode Champenoise" which is the traditional way of making Champagne and involves secondary fermentation in the bottle to produce the bubbles. This method is used by some California wineries that want to produce sparkling wine similar to the traditional French style.
Another method is called the "Charcoal Method" or "Methode Ancestrale" which is a simpler way of making sparkling wine and involves fermenting the wine in a large tank, rather than in the bottle. After fermentation is complete, the wine is transferred to a pressurized tank, where carbon dioxide is added to create the bubbles. This method is typically used to produce sparkling wines that are meant to be consumed soon after release.
Many California wineries also use the "Methode Charmat" or "Tank Method" which is a technique where secondary fermentation takes place in a large tank or vat, rather than in the bottle. Wine is then bottled under pressure with carbon dioxide. This method is used to make sparkling wines which are meant to be consumed young, or within a couple of years after production.
In terms of viticulture, California's climate allows for a longer growing season and allows for the grapes to ripen to their full potential, which can lead to a more fruit-forward and intense style compared to Champagnes from France. Wineries in California also tend to use modern techniques such as canopy management, irrigation and vineyard mechanization to optimize the grape production.
Champagne grapes are grown and made into wine in California using a variety of methods, such as the traditional Champagne method, the simpler Charcoal method, or the Charmat method and adapt to the specific conditions of California. Wineries in California can achieve unique and delicious sparkling wines, but might have a different character compared to traditional French style Champagnes.