From My Knowldege and Experiences

Widya's Wines: It's Time For Some Festive Sparkle!

Monday, December 20, 2021
Raising a glass of bubbly to toast at any event is a symbol of celebration, it makes it a party, fun! For me bubbly is a instant mood changer, the lovely appearance of the bubble, the fresh tempting aroma, even the sound of bubble in the glass (try to listen to your wine bubbles in the glass, you will be thrilled!). Do you know that back in history, sparking wine was called as "The Devil's Wine" as it was dangerous and caused many accidents due to the bottles explosing! In the old days winemakers controlled this interesting but uncontrollable wine with heavy metal masks, until the British, around 17th century, found an interest in sparkling wine instead of their regular still wine that was supposed to be received from the Champagne producing area.

The wines were developed by a second fermentation in the bottle as the temperature in champagne drops during the fermentation and left a bit of sugar in the wine that kicked off the second fermentation in the bottle due to the increased temperature during the delivery to the British. And that led to the development of bottle and cork stopper from the unexpected wines and brought a brand new, and exciting style of wine to the market!

The bubbles (actually carbon dioxide) that are formed as the result of the alcoholic fermentation in the wine making process, are the result of the how yeast converts the sugar in the grape juice to become alcohol and carbon dioxide. Forget about carbon dioxide in the still wine category, your red, white and rose wine does not need it, but in the sparkling wine, the carbon dioxide determines the style and how it is created by different methods, is really interesting. The most complex and difficult method is called the traditional method or Methode Champenoise, with Madame Clicquot invented the riddling process to remove yeast afterthe secondary fermentation. The traditional method became the style of the production in Champagne region, This method requires the second fermentation in the bottle, with the bubbles forming naturally in the bottle. Not only that, but the dead yeast, called Lees, which is in the bottle after fermentation, creates the autolysis performance which gives the sparkling wine aromas of yeast, bread, toast, biscuits, and pastry in the wines. The traditional method is used not only in Champagne region but also in the production of Cava, the sparkling wine from Spain and also in South Africa which are more known as the Cap Classique method.

The other method of making the sparkling wines is the Tank Method, the whole fermentation process happening only in the stainless steel tanks, and usually the finishes product will only retain the aroma and flavour of the grapes. Processo is an example of using this method. The  quickest method to make sparkling wines is Carbonation, you basically only need to inject the cardon dioxide to have the bubble in the base wines

Lets start the tasting! I will start on the ultimate region of sparkling wine which is the Champagne region, and I am tasting the Taittinger Brut Reserve by the house of the Taittinger founded in 1734 right in the center to Riems. Taittinger Brut Reserve is a nonvintage reserve for three years in the cellars with the blend of Chardonnay (40%), Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (60%) wines from over 35 different vineyards and vintages. For the last couple of years we could not find any European wines in Indonesia due to the government regulation, thank God now the rules are changed and we can find and taste the European wines again. So, its quite a long time that I did not taste the Taittinger, so! am so excited to pop the bottle and pour it. It was bright golden yellow colour, the bubbles are fine and I am enjoying to see the foam on the glass. The aromas are pronounced and very expressive: the combination of the fruity fresh fruit, white flower, vanilla, bread, brioche, biscuit, yeast and honeysuckle. On the palate it was fresh and had very nice acidity with delicate bubbles coating the palate nicely with the fresh fruit, honey, vanilla, and bread -very rich in flavour. It had medium finish lingering in your palate nicely... worth to wait for so long to be able to taste the Champagne again.

I am now taking you to the comparation with anothertraditional method production from Spain the Segura Viudas since 1969 and today belongs to one of the most important producers of top Cavas in Catalonia. I am opening the Segura Viudas Reserva Semi Seco Cava, using the identical grape variety of Macabeo, Parellada,Xarel-lo made in bottle fermentation aka traditional method and has been matured up to 60 months in the inhouse cultivated yeast cultures. The wine is pale yellow with a bit of a green hue, very expressive bubbles present nicely. Pronounced intensity of aroma with fresh fruit aroma like apple, peach, lemon and a bit of grassy notes with vanilla, bread and cream. On the palate the wine is slightly sweet on the tip of the palate, the wine is fruit dominant, very citrusy giving a refreshing medium finish. I can imagine how good this Cava pairing with tapas with fresh tomato and spicy sauce.

Now I am taking you to South Africa to taste an interesting sparking wine made by Chenin Blanc Grape variety, MA.N Family Wines Sparkling Chenin Blanc Brut style NVits come from Coastal Region from South Africa. Very interesting and tempting medium bright yellow colour, with a medium intensity aroma, very appealing with more ripe tropical fruit honeydew melon, ripe pineapple, red apple, lemon, and a floral, very expressive aroma. On the palate it tastedthe very fruity giving the impression the wine is off dry due to its fruit taste in the middle of the palate. It was medium minus acidity, quite nice for those who not really enjoy the high acidity that is usually typical of champagne or sparkling wine. Finish and bubble sensation was quite short. The wine will be perfect for the afternoon with light canapes or with young cheese, a good idea to spend your relaxing afternoon.

For my last review let me introduce you to the best sparkling wine in South East Asia awarded by Cathay Pacific Wine Competition in Wine and Spirit Expo in Hongkong 2019 the Hatten Tunjung Sparkling Wine produced in Bali by Hatten Winery made in the brut style using the traditional method, yes .. the same method as champagne is made, and it is made in Bali. Can you believe it? You need to seethe riddling room in their winery (the only riddling room in Indonesia) a room dedicated to racking for second fermentation and the riddling process of collecting the sediment as the result of the second fermentation in the bottle. It is a blend of 100% grapes grown in their vineyard in North of Bali less ripe Muscat St Vanier, Colombard and Probolingo Biru is a blend of local grapes and international grapes grown in Bali. As the result is medium yellow colour with bit of green hue on the appearance, with expressive bubble and very aromatic in the nose. The aroma is of lemon zest, fresh cut green apple, bit of guava, white flower, pastry, creamy. While in the palate the wine is brut with intense fruit flavour of lime, apple, pastry and very creamy with crisp fresh acidity on the finish. Very refreshing and suits the climate in Bali so well.

Sparkling wine is known as the universal wine that can easily pair with food, the acidity helps cleansing the palate between meals, increasing your appetite as your aperitif due to the refreshing acidity on the palate, something that you will easily enjoy with food or only by itself. A symbol of togetherness and festivity. Cheers to great moments in the present and more to come in the future.

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Kertawidyawati - Head of Hatten Education Center /WSET Certified Educator