Oswego Hills Wines

Vineyard Wines

SPARKING WINES

Sparkling wine production happened through accident by a Benedictine monk, Dom Perignon of Champagne, France in 1668. The northeast French vineyards were planted with Pinot Noir by the Romans in the 5th century. The Champenoise had challenges with cooler climates, higher acids, lower sugars, and pale, pinkish wines in comparison to their Burgundian neighbors in the South who were making robust Pinot Noir’s. After harvest and initial production of still wines, the cold winter would set in and halt the fermentation process. Once temperatures increased in the Spring, dormant yeast cells would come back and resume the fermentation process. Carbon dioxide gas is a byproduct of fermentation. Dom Perignon had bottled wines that pressurized as the carbon dioxide levels increased. Bottles either exploded or produced bubbles when the wine was opened. While the French saw this as a major problem, the British aristocracy developed a liking for the bubbly wine. Now that a consumer had been found for the bubbly wine, the French needed to figure out a way to keep the bottles pressurized without exploding.

By the 19th Century the modern Champagne industry had the process figured out as houses like Dom Perignon, Krug, Pommery, Bollinger and Veuve Clicquot took off. Champagne sales have quadrupled since 1950 as “bubbles” have become a worldwide favorite. The French have designated the Appellation d’origine controlee (AOC) as Champagne to solidify their production zone of this luxury product. The only producers in the world who get to call it Champagne, are those who make it in the Champagne AOC of northeast France. The rest of the producers around the world get to call it “Sparkling Wine”. Other sparkling wines from France include: Cremant De Loire, Burgundy, Jura, Alsace, and Blanquette De Limoux. Italian sparkling wines include: Proseco, Franciacorta, Moscato D’Asti, Brachetto D’Acqui, and Lambrusco. From Spain, we have Cava. From Germany, we have Sekt. And finally, we have American Sparkling Wine. The level of residual sugar in the finished wine is how the sweetness level is classified. Brut is the driest at 0-3 g/l residual sugar. Extra Bruto is 3-6 g/l, Bruto is 6-12 g/l, Extra Dry is 12-17 g/l, Dry is 17-32 g/l, Demi Sec is 32-50 g/l and Douxover greater than 50 g/l residual sugar.

There are 6 ways to make sparkling wine today. The Champagne Method or Traditional Method is still the best process utilized to produce the highest quality, longest-lived and most complex sparkling wines. This process also requires more labor, time and expense for the producer. The traditional method requires a secondary fermentation to take place inside the bottle in which the wine will be sold, which is temporarily capped after the liqueur de tirage is added to the base wine. When the yeasts have finished working, they die and become lees. The lees remain in contact with the sparkling wine until removed by the winemaker, creating texture, richness, and complexity in a wine. Before corking the final bottling, winemakers will remove the lees sediment by a process called riddling. They invert the bottle until the sediment sits in its upside-down neck and can be frozen. When the temporary cap is removed, the bottle’s pressure forces the frozen sediment plug out, at which point a mixture of sugar and wine called dosage is added, along with a final cork and cage wrap.

Cheaper and easier methods outside of Method Champenoise include the Charmat Method or Tank Method for production. The sparkling wine is bottled from a pressurized tank that is already undergoing the secondary fermentation. There are no lees contact in the bottle, so the wines are fruitier, lighter, aromatic and easy to drink. The most popular Charmat sparkling wine is Proseco. Another production technique called the Transfer Method is a hybrid of traditional and tank methods. Traditional method bottles are transferred into a pressurized tank to separate off the lees and then rebottled into a clean bottle. There is no riddling, disgorgement or dosage taking place. The Continuous Method is like the tank method, but the liquer de tirage (yeast mixture) is continuously added to the wine as it is pumped through multiple pressurized tanks containing oak. The lees attach to the oak as the finished sparkling wine comes out clean. The oldest method of sparkling production is called the Ancestral Method. Here, the wine is bottled once the primary fermentation starts. There is no secondary fermentation with this process. Some producers disgorge the yeast while others leave it for a hazy appearance. The final method is to add Carbonation to the wine. It’s like mixing carbon dioxide with soda. These sparkling wines tend to lose their bubbles quickly.

Oswego Hills Sparkling Pinot Rose’

Oswego Hills Sparkling Pinot Rose’ is produced by the Traditional Method Champenoise. A select block of Pinot Noir grapes are harvested around 19 degrees brix for optimal acid levels. The liquer de tirage is added as the wine is placed into its fermentation bottle. Once the primary fermentation is complete and carbon dioxide levels are acceptable, the yeast lees plug is disgorged prior to our final dosage and cork & cage closure. Wonderful aromatics and flavors or strawberry, pomegranate and ruby-red grapefruit really come through with this Brut finished sparkling wine. Food pairings include just about everything from cheeses and buttered popcorn, to seafood, salami, fruit and vegetables, or if you prefer, bubbles are perfect as a stand-alone wine.

  • $40.00 per bottle |
  • $204.00 per 6-pack |
  • $384.00 per case |
  • 100 cases produced

Oswego Hills Blanc Le Ange’

Oswego Hills Blanc Le Ange’ is a Brut style sparkling wine produced by the Traditional Method Champenoise using select Pinot Gris grapes from our rock pile section of our vineyard. A crisp acidity and minerality grab you while flavors of honey crisp apple, pear, melon and underlying tropical fruit make the “White Angel” a clean and refreshing sparkling wine to enjoy with family and friends. Food pairings include fresh fruit, mild cheeses, bread that doesn’t hurt when you chew it, and pretty much anything you can dip into hummus.

  • $30.00 per bottle |
  • $153.00 per 6-pack |
  • $288.00 per case |
  • 100 cases produced

Oswego Hills Le Fantome’ Noir

Oswego Hills Le Fantome’ Noir is a Brut style sparkling wine produced by the Traditional Method Champenoise using select Marechal Foch grapes from the southeast slope of our vineyard. Named the “Black Phantom” for its inky color, this sparkling wine is a tribute to our founder and owner for his service to our country as an F4 fighter pilot for the United States Navy. The beautiful garnet color with continuous bubbles rising through it is reminiscent of lava lamp on overdrive. However, when you experience the tingling acidity and flavors of black cherry, raspberry, currants and spice, you will understand what makes the alluring “Black Phantom” the pinnacle of our sparkling wines. Food pairings include chocolate, robust cheeses, nuts, cured meats, and basically any dessert you want. Even the occasional cigar or just a stand-alone glass pour of Le Fantome’ Noir may be just the thing you need to be in your happy place.

  • $50.00 per bottle |
  • $255.00 per 6-pack |
  • $480.00 per case |
  • 85 cases produced

Oswego Hills Wine Store