1) To remove the sediment from (a sparkling wine) after fermentation. “The Champagne is aged in the bottle before it is disgorged.” Late 15th century, from old French
Disgorgement – the Grand Finale!
After base wines have been created, they are blended, bottled, and fermented again inside the bottle. Then comes the magic; the wine ages for years on its lees (dead yeast cells) and develops extraordinary flavors.
Disgorgement is the process of removing the lees from the bottle, leaving clear, beautiful Champagne behind. After disgorgement, a small amount of still wine and sugar (dosage) may be added, and the cork is put in place.
Traditionally, bottles were disgorged via a method called “A la Voile” (see Bryan’s photo above) where the vigneron would quickly remove the temporary bottle cap and place a thumb over the opening before losing too much Champagne. Now bottles are typically frozen at the necks and the lees are removed in a frozen plug.
Fresh from the Cave
Fat Cork producers only disgorge their Champagne when it’s ready. Years of aging on the lees creates layers of complexity and beautiful aromas. Because all of that aging is done in cool caves and in bottles that are sealed by bottle cap, there is limited exposure of the wine to oxygen. And that makes freshly disgorged bottles both aged and fresh at the same time. The combination of these two characteristics (age and freshness) is the pinnacle of great Champagne.
At Fat Cork, we always display the disgorgement date (the day the bottle was corked) so you know exactly how long the cuvée aged on its lees and under cork.
Vintage Champagnes, Freshly Disgorged
Gimonnet-Oger Blanc de Blancs Millésime 1996 Premier Cru ($159) After aging peacefully in Jean-Luc Gimonnet’s cellar for almost 20 years, this Champagne has incredible complexity and character, but is still fresh! 1996 is an exceptional and rare vintage, especially with a recent disgorgement date. It’s magnificent to enjoy right now, but will also age under cork for another decade.
Perrot-Batteux et Filles Cuvée Helixe Millésime 2009 Blanc de Blancs ($67) Perrot-Batteux is known for producing elegant Chardonnay from her ideal location in the south of Champagne. This particular cuvée is from 2009, which provides a wonderful maturity. Containing only Chardonnay and being recently disgorged provides a light and lively taste, with a pleasant acidity.