Traditional method: Alternative methods

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Riddling and disgorgement are unwieldy processes which contribute nothing to the innate quality of the sparkling wine. It is not surprising therefore that, in the 1980s, as labour costs spiralled, there was considerable research into alternative methods of expelling the sediment.

One of the most successful has been the development of encapsulated yeast. Yeast can be trapped in a ‘bead’ made of calcium alginate. Such beads are about a few millimetres in diameter and are able to hold the yeast trapped in their interior while having big enough pores to admit sugar and nutrients into the bead so that a full second fermentation can proceed as normal. The great advantage is that the riddling stage takes seconds as the beads simply drop into the neck of the inverted bottle. The only brake on the adoption of encapsulated yeasts has been the development of reliable machinery which will dispense beads into bottles without shearing them. Although moët & chandon successfully trialled the use of such beads, the company decided it was more practical and economical to continue to use gyropalettes to move the sediment to the neck of the bottle.