It takes courage to make sparkling wine in a new winemaking country and especially if your role model is Bollinger Special Cuvee, which is one of the world's greatest sparkling wines and is a grand marque champagne. In other words, one of the wines at the top of the Champagne region's sparkling wine tree.
So, what exactly goes into modelling a sparkling wine after Bollinger? Well, patience is the primary key.
All champagnes and sparkling wines made in their mould are aged on their yeast lees (the decomposing yeast cells) in the same bottle we consume them from for a minimum of 15 to 18 months, which is a long time to wait for any wine. The makers of Bollinger - and also of Nautilus, our winery of the month - wait an entire three years for their wines to gain flavour and complexity as the yeast cells break down, releasing tasty substances called mano proteins, which become part of the wine. These impart complex multi layered flavours of fresh pastry, toast and other savoury flavour notes. The higher the percentage of Pinot Noir in the wine, the more savoury and rich it tends to taste. Sparkling wines that contain more Chardonnay tend to taste crisper when youthful and creamier when aged. These two grapes (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) are the main ingredients in sparkling wines from the Champagne region and in all bubblies modelled on them.
Bollinger is always a higher proportion of Pinot Noir than Chardonnay and is typically a 70%/30% blend. A portion of the base wine is also always fermented in older French oak barrels, which softens the classic high acidity of grapes grown in the cool northern Champagne region's climate. The base wine is the still wine made, prior to blending and refermenting in the bottle to gain the bubbles in the form of dissolved CO2. And then the wine is aged on tirage (yeast lees) in the bottle for three years.
When winemaker Clive Jones launched Nautilus Winery's sparkling wine programme, the model was always Bollinger and hence, Nautilus is aged on lees in bottle for three years. And also, like Bolly, it is disgorged regularly so that it always tastes fresh.
We are big fans of the style of both Bollinger and Nautilus, which bears the trademark of a winemaker dedicated to coaxing the very best out of Pinot Noir with bubbles.
Nautilus Cuvee Brut NV Museum Release 2010 Tirage RRP $50.99
Can you imagine tasting history? Well, here is the perfect chance to do just that with This new museum release Nautilus Marlborough Cuvée Brut, which was aged for 10 years on tirage; on its yeast lees in the bottle. Dry, richly flavoursome and full bodied with enormous toasty appeal adding depth of flavour and power. Grapes come from three vineyards in Marlborough, were all hand picked and fermented with a champagne yeast with full lees aging and malolactic fermentation. This wine typically contains between five and 15% of reserve wine, which is held back from previous vintages. This blend is 73% Pinot Noir and 27% Chardonnay.
Buy here: https://www.regionalwines.co.nz/products/nautilus-methode-cuvee-brut-nv-marlborough-museum-release-2010-tirage-750ml
2018 Nautilus Cuvee Brut Rosé RRP $45.99
One of the best bubblies made in New Zealand, and always a vintage wine with the grapes 100% from one year and 100% Pinot Noir. Tastes dry, yeasty fresh with notes of red berry flavours in a full bodied bubbly with a long finish.
Long ageing on tirage – aka lees (decomposing yeast cells) in bottle - provides depth, body and a lingering finish.
Buy here: https://www.regionalwines.co.nz/products/nautilus-methode-rose-16