French Sparkling Wine Production + Wine Making Notes

French sparkling wine, what is it? How is it made? How does it taste? We’re giving you the quickest wine lesson by covering the basics with simplification. Because all you need are three fun facts to be the wine connoisseur of the friend group.

In simple terms, sparkling wine is a carbonated, fizzy wine that can be made from red or white grapes. The carbonation is a natural occurrence and the result that comes from the second fermentation process. And French sparkling wine, is carbonated wine produced from- you guessed it: France. To get an idea on how French sparkling wine is made, we’ll walk you through our production method as to how our French sparkling wine at Le Grand Courtage is made, and the winemaking notes produced from that.

For our French sparkling wine production, we wanted something crisp, light and refreshing with a perfect balance of dryness and acidity to offset the yeast and classic attributes of French champagne. Our goal was something approachable, affordable and versatile.  

HARVEST – our grapes are strategically picked earlier to yield higher acid and lower sugar, which provide more fruit components. Following the harvest they are then gently pressed.

PRODUCTION

Primary Fermentation

  • The initial base wines and the clear juice are fermented in steel tanks separately.
  • Base wines are then blended for the ‘assemblage” to produce the final “Cuvee” which is not yet drinkable due to its high acidity content.
  • The cuvée, is assembled, using wines from various vineyards, and, for non-vintage like ours, sometimes various years.
  • Maintain a constant 51 degrees to slow fermentation and produce a clean, crisp finish.

Secondary Fermentation

  • The blended base wine has yeast and a small amount of sugar, called the liqueur de tirage.
  • Yeast converts the added sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2) bubbles.
  • The amount of added sugar determines the pressure – ours is 5-6 atmosphere.  (equals 4 car tires or 100 mi/hr).

Bottling

  • Dosage added before the cork, the liquid level is topped up with liqueur d’expédition – a mixture of the base wine and sucrose.
  • The amount of sugar in the liqueur d’expédition determines the sweetness, the sugar previously in the wine having been consumed in the second fermentation.
  • Generally, sugar is added to balance the high acidity of sparkling, rather than to produce a sweet taste. 

THE BLENDS

Blanc de Blancs Brut

Chardonnay imparts depth and complexity for the overall balance while Colombard’s higher acidity provides structure, length and a pleasant minerality that is supplemented by the Ugni Blanc’s fruit profile. The Chenin Blanc lends citrus and hints of honey for a creamy texture.

FLAVOR PROFILE – Crisp, light, refreshing with baby bubbles & a hint of Meyer lemon, honeydew & soft floral notes on the finish to balance the dryness, yeast and acidity. This affordable sparkler is cuisine, cocktail and consumer friendly.

AROMAS – Hints of green apple, honeysuckle and toasted brioche.

TECHNICAL NOTES – Alcohol: 11.5%; Residual Sugar: 10 g/liter; Ferment: Steel Tank at 51° F; pH: 3.3Acidity: 4 g/100mL

APPELLATION – France: Le Grand Courtâge offers a Vin Mousseux sourced from notable terroirs such as Burgundy, Languedoc and Loire Valley. Produced in Nuits-Saint-Georges.

Brut Rosé

Chardonnay provides depth and structure to the wine, while the Ugni Blanc offers natural acidity and freshness. The light bodied Gamay provides vibrant youthful fruit expressions reminiscent of wild berries and flowers amongst the French countryside on a warm summer day.

FLAVOR PROFILE – A delicate balance of dryness and acidity lingers with flavors of wild berries and pomegranate alongside soft floral notes. Crisp, light, refreshing with delicate bubbles.

AROMAS – Bright aromas of fresh strawberry and raspberry combine with notes of lilac and violet.

TECHNICAL NOTES – Alcohol: 11.5%; Residual Sugar: 12 g/liter; Ferment: Steel Tank at 51° F; pH: 3.25Acidity: 3.7 g/100mL

APPELLATION – France: Le Grand Courtâge offers a Vin Mousseux sourced from notable terroirs such as Burgundy, Languedoc and Beaujolais. Produced in Nuits-Saint-Georges.

We created a Vin Mousseux as we believe this allows for more consistency in the style that is cuisine, cocktail and consumer friendly and offers an affordable price for French bubbles. LGC is not as light & sweet as prosecco nor as dry & yeasty as champagne – ultimately, we believe our wine style is very quaffable and consumer friendly.