At the sparkling wine symposium

Just back from day 1 of the 2011 instalment of the International Sparkling Wine Symposium, held at Denbies wine estate in Dorking, Surrey.

I’m one of the organizing committee, so it was a day on duty, hoping things went well. Did they? Yes, absolutely. It was a great day.

I can’t hope to summarize proceedings adequately here (I’m tired, and it’s day 2 tomorrow, so I need some sleep). Nor can I give you nice pictures – I lent my camera to Kate Willacy to take the official pictures, so all I have is just a few cameraphone snaps. But I’ll give a brief description.

Things kicked off with Dr Bertrand Robillard, who talked about the jetting technique that minimizes oxygen pick up at bottling – a major cause of bottle to bottle variation in Champagne and sparkling wine. He was followed by Jaume Gramona, a researcher and winemaker, who discussed autolytic flavours in fizz and their origin.

Arthur O’Connor and Bruno Colomer from Codorniu then led an interesting tasting session where we experienced a range of Cava base wines comparing different fermentation conditions. This was followed by Herve Jestin’s somewhat esoteric presentation on biodynamic winemaking (not viticulture) – he is eliminating the use of sulfur dioxide through biodynamic techniques. Jane Robichaud of TFC followed by talking about reduced-alcohol sparkling wines and their potential market.

After lunch, Pieter Ferriera talked about Methode Cap Classique – bottle-fermented sparkling wines from South Africa – while Mario Geisse discussed Brazilian sparkling wines. Nicola Jenkin led us to the tea break with a talk on sustainability and carbon footprints: sparkling wine bottles are heavy, but they can be made lighter.

Sam Harrop and Mike Florence introduced the Sparkling Wine Review, and some of the conclusions from the first two years, and then it was time for the closures discussion, which I got to chair. We had Paulo Lopes (Amorim), John Brooks (Zork) and Dominic Tournieux (Diam/Mytik) describe their sparkling wine closures, followed by Pierre-Yves Bournerias who talked about the use of crown caps with liners of differing oxygen transmission as tools for shaping wine style during the secondary fermentation in bottle.

Then, the grand tasting. Great fun to be able to try so many different sparkling wines from around the world. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

3 comments to At the sparkling wine symposium

  • Sounds like a great programme. Both Larmandier and Lahaye in Champagne mentioned that sticking to the biodynamic calendar was more difficult in the vineyards with spread out in different villages, few staff and now helicopters being banned for applications. Both agreed that following the calendar in the winery was much more realistic.

  • keith prothero

    a meeting of masochists :)

  • just bought a bottle of Emeri pink moscato, very tastful, not being an expert in wines and champagne, just what is this? champagne or wine? what foods go good with it? thanks for the info ahead of time.l5k5

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