Of all the techniques a winemaker employs in turning grapes into vintage sparkling wine, the one that wields the greatest power is their manipulation of time. Given the precise weather conditions and the harvest of each particular year, how long should each different vintage remain in the cellar? When is the ideal moment to release?
We mature every vintage at least three times longer than required. The wines sit quietly in our cellars waiting to reach their optimum expression. And in some years, Chief Winemaker Charlie Holland will judge that a portion of the vintage should be reserved and kept for even longer on its lees before release as that most special of editions: Late Disgorged.
What makes Late Disgorged so special is that the extra time on lees develops additional layers of tertiary flavours, weightier tones of toasty, nutty notes. These develop further still as the wine lies on cork before release.
How long we keep a wine on its lees before disgorging influences its profile enormously. Charlie Holland explains: “Time on lees gives the wine body, roundness and texture. Take a wine off its lees too early and the result is thin. The longer it’s left on, the richer it becomes. And this provides the ideal balance for the natural acidity of our grapes.”
Gusbourne was the first English house to offer Late Disgorged. We kept back 500 bottles of our 2007 Blanc de Blancs for seven years after harvest. It received the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition’s highest accolade, Gold Outstanding.
“Cool years with high acid fruit work best,” says Charlie – which is why we’re getting ready to release two special Late Disgorged wines, Brut Reserve 2013 LD and Blanc de Blancs 2012 LD. “These are very special bottlings. We identified them as ideal for Late Disgorged, and after their extended time on lees, they’re absolutely at the point of perfection.”
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