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What is the traditional method? 

The Traditional Method

Diehard fans of Champagne often justify paying the minimum $50 price tag by explaining that only Champagne has that taste. What they are referring to is the bready, yeasty, toasty aroma and flavour that comes from long aging on the lees---the dead yeast cells---which break down and release flavour notes, in a process called autolysis. This is all part of the costly, labour intensive Champagne production process, which is referred to in countries outside France as the Traditional Method.

After an initial fermentation, a shot of yeast and sugar---the dosage---is added and it is laid down to ferment in the bottle with a temporary cork anywhere from several months to over 10 years. The length of time determines how much autolytic character the wine possesses on drinking. After this stage, the bottle is uncorked, topped up, and then recorked for sale.

Most Champagne lovers are aware of other Traditional Method wines from other parts of the world, notably Cava from Spain, and New World trads in Australia and California, but getting this style of wine from our own backyard is truly exciting.

---Craig Pinhey

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Vol 24, No 38
February 16, 2017

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