A Batch of Bubbly
Page Mill’s sparkling wine is made the old-fashioned way—by hand.
In a world of mass-produced beverages, Page Mill Winery’s Dane Stark takes a more hands-on approach to his sparkling wine. The second-generation winemaker follows the traditional French méthode champenoise, a labor-intensive process for fermenting, aging, and preparing each bottle of his winery’s debut 2008 Blanc de Blanc ($75). The method is unique among Livermore wineries, and it produces a final product that is a subtly sweet, uncommonly complex sparkling wine, with a delightfully creamy mouthfeel. Here’s how it’s made.
Step 1: Aging
After two cycles of fermentation and crushing, the base wine is bottled and aged sur tirage on its side for three years, sufficient time for the yeast to add complexity and creaminess.
Step 2: Riddling
At the end of the aging, each bottle is placed neck down and then jostled—lifted, turned, and dropped again—two to three times per day by hand to slowly guide the yeast into the neck of the bottle.
Step 3: Disgorging
Using dry ice, the first inch of the bottlenecks are frozen, allowing the now-solid plug of yeast to be ejected before adding a final dose of sugar and base wine.
Page Mill Winery, 1960 S. Livermore Ave., Livermore, (925) 456-7676, pagemillwinery.com.