What is a late-disgorged wine?
Every year, we release a small number of late-disgorged wines. These are particularly luxurious and fine thanks to a special winemaking technique.
If you’re already familiar with Dom Perignon’s Plénitude or Bollinger’s RD, then you know the magical combination of freshness allied with delicious flavours of brioche, cream, butter and toast that characterise late-disgorged wines.
But how does this kind of ageing alchemy happen? The answer lies in the lees.
Here’s a little more detail.
To row back a bit: late-disgorged wines begin life in exactly the same way as their conventionally aged counterparts. Like all our sparkling, they are bottled as a still wine before being dosed with a sugar and yeast solution to trigger secondary fermentation (which is where the bubbles develop). While the secondary fermentation is taking place, the bottles are sealed not with a cork, but with a bidule and a crown cap, so that next-to-no air makes its way into the bottle.
Inside the bottle, the yeast feasts on the sugar, triggering fermentation. When there’s no more sugar, the yeast dies. The spent yeast – the lees – now becomes an important influence on flavour, releasing mannoproteins and other compounds. These are responsible for the delicious creamy, toasty, brioche-like flavours we associate with aged sparkling wine.
The longer you allow a wine to rest on its lees, the more pronounced these creamy flavours and textures will be. But here’s the critical thing to note when it comes to late-disgorged wines: lees ageing in the bottle happens without the influence of oxygen. (Remember, it’s still sealed with a cap, not a cork.) This means the wine develops toasty flavours but retains its freshness.
When – after a longer than usual period on its lees – the wine is ready to be disgorged, it is gently turned and inverted until all the lees and sediment are in the neck of the bottle. This is frozen and, when the crown cap is removed, expelled from the bottle. The bottle is then sealed with a cork and returned to the cellar for a period of cork ageing. This gives the wine a chance to recover from the shock of oxygen at disgorging.
Are late-disgorged wines for me?
The beauty of English wine is that there’s a style to suit all palates. If you love your sparkling fresh and fruity, then you may find you prefer younger, more approachable wines. But, for many people, “LD” wines are the apogee of sparkling wine, retaining freshness but with all the complexity that comes from extra time on lees.
Our late-disgorged releases:
Light gold in colour with a fine mousse and aromas of citrus peel, lemon sherbert, green apple and stone fruits alongside brioche and biscuit notes. The palate is creamier, with white peach, apple and pear. Behind the elegant fruit lies more complex flavours of toasted nuts, buttered toast and delicate spice leading to a long, intense finish.
Food match: Delicious with richer fish dishes and lighter meats. Try alongside scallop gratin, or salmon en croute, lemon and herb roasted chicken or a pumpkin and hazelnut tortellini.
Blanc de Noirs 2016 Late Disgorged
The nose brims with red and blue fruit and candied citrus peel, alongside notes of fresh violets, sandalwood and warm toast. On the palate the wine is rich and powerful, with morello cherry, raspberries and blueberries, hints of vanilla and cinnamon spice and a dark, salted mineral note. As the palate unfolds the wine shows more developed notes of spiced toast, gingerbread and toasted nuts. The palate is intense yet elegant, with a long, complex finish.
Food match: This works particularly well with richer fish dishes or cured meats. Try a lightly spiced seafood and tomato stew, pork rillettes with fresh crusty bread or a mushroom pithivier.
Blanc de Blancs 2013 Late Disgorged
Golden straw colour in the glass, with a delicate mousse. On the nose, the wine is driven by zesty fruit, green apple, fresh lemon and a more perfumed, floral note alongside freshly baked bread and toasted nuts. The palate is rich with orchard and citrus fruits, and a distinctive saline minerality. This has a creamy texture and more developed notes of pastry, lemon tart and toasted nuts from extended ageing on lees. The finish is long and complex.
Food match: Dressed crab, barbecued sea bass with fennel and lime, crispy courgette flowers with goats’ cheese.