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Buckel Family Wine

Nicole Indovino
June 5, 2021 | Nicole Indovino

Sparkling Wine 101: What is Disgorgement?

Our sparkling rosé is absolutely (DIS)GORGEOUS, but it’s no easy feat to achieve those beautiful pink bubbles that end up in your glass. To make our sparkling rosé, we bottle cap the primary fermentation with a little residual sugar leftover to allow the yeast to continue and finish the fermentation in the bottle. The yeast cells metabolize the sugar and produce carbon dioxide (bubbles!) and alcohol (wine!). Once the yeast has consumed all the sugar, they die and leave behind a sediment composed of dead cells we call lees.

Why do we disgorge?

While there is nothing wrong with consuming lees (try our White Wine Pet Nat if you’re curious), when the bottle is opened the sediment bubbles up with the CO2 and can make for a cloudier glass of wine. Because of this, some winemakers opt to disgorge their sparkling wine to remove the sediment and have a nice clean glass of bubbles.

How do we disgorge at Buckel?

  1. Settle. To disgorge, the first step is to turn the bottle upside down to allow the lees to settle in the neck of the bottle.
  2. Freeze. Once settled, the neck of the bottle is frozen. Many wineries do this mechanically, or with a special machine. We opted for some thermoses filled with Dry Ice (frozen CO2) and acetone that quickly freezes the lees in the neck into a solid pellet.
  3. Pop! Once frozen, we use a special disgorging key to open the bottle, facing away from us. The CO2 in the bottle forcefully pushes out the frozen lees pellet, which shoots into a brute. We then quickly flip the bottle back upright so just the pellet shoots out and the wine stays in the bottle.
  4. Refill and cap. Once the frozen pellet is expelled, we refill the bottle with a little more wine, recap and it is good to go!

Disgorging is a fun process for us. Between the freezing, popping open, flying lees pellets and occasional bottle explosion, there is never a dull moment. It also allows us to deliver a wine that is crisp, beautiful, and always hits the spot on a warm day with good food and great friends. This 2020 Sparkling Rosé has definitely been a labor of love, so keep your eyes out for it this summer and enjoy a glass. Interested in learning more and eating some delicious food? We’re having a Wine and Foodies dinner on June 16th at the winery! Purchase your tickets here. See you there!


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