THE WINEMAKING TECHNIQUE
THE PRODUCTION OF SPARKLING WINE FROM RIBOLLA GIALLA
Ribolla Gialla is a grape whose intrinsic characteristics make it suitable for being transformed into both still and sparkling wine. The winemaking technique we use for the production of the latter is known as the Martinotti or Charmat Method. The two names used for this complex winemaking technique come from its creator (Martinotti), and the man who improved it and made it famous (Charmat).
THE MARTINOTTI OR CHARMAT METHOD
The production process of spumante and sparkling wine (Ribolla Gialla Extra Brut Biele Zôe Collezione Privata, Friuli DOC Ribolla Gialla Extra Brut, Prosecco Brut Millesimato, semi-sparkling Ribolla Gialla and semi-sparkling Pinot Grigio) begins in the vineyard where, even for these types of wine, we are looking for perfectly ripe fruit. In the case of Ribolla, the ripe grapes also display the kind of marked natural acidity that Veronelli would have likened to a snakebite, which is useful in the production of sparkling wines.
HARVEST AND PROCESSING OF THE MUST
After the harvest, the grapes are pressed and the must transformed into wine by means of off-the-skins fermentation.
To the base wine thus obtained a dosage mixture is added, in our case must containing sugars for second fermentation, and the activated yeast or “pied de cuve” composed of the same yeasts used in primary fermentation.
PREPARATION OF THE PIED DE CUVE
The preparation of the pied de cuve is a particularly delicate procedure.
The yeast must be correctly oxygenated and nourished. A mistake in this phase would jeopardize the whole process and good results in terms of wine quality.
Shortly afterwards the yeast will have to deal with a different, almost oxygen-free environment, as well as higher alcohol concentrations (usually 10% ABV). Above all, it will have to withstand high pressures (5-6 atmospheres for sparkling wines, about 2.5 for semi-sparkling wines) due to the presence of carbon dioxide produced by the wine itself through the fermentation of sugars.
The sparkling wine production process takes place in insulated, hermetically sealed pressure tanks. In this protected environment, the base wine undergoes a second fermentation process, which results in its transformation into sparkling wine.
The activity of the yeast produces carbon dioxide, which remains trapped and amalgamates inside the container. For the entire duration of the fermentation process we agitate the mass (known as battonage), once or twice a week, to encourage the yeast to release precious substances that enrich the future sparkling wine. When no sugars remain for the yeasts to transform, fermentation comes to an end.
THE CHARACTER OF EXTRA BRUT
In our extra brut sparkling wines the levels of residual sugar are very low, at 2-3 g, and imperceptible on the tongue. This results in an austere character worthy of a serious still wine, without sacrificing gracefulness and vitality.
Due to their purity, sparkling wines of this kind are perfect for cleansing the mouth of fatty or greasy sensations left by rich food. For the Brut version, fermentation is stopped before all the sugars are transformed.
In this way, there remains a touch of sweetness, which will play off the natural acids and other substances present in the sparkling wine. This version is particularly suitable for pairing with a variety of foods.