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Riddle Me This


jpschust
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We were at Schramsburg last week for a tour- I can describe the tour in great detail if anyone wants to know- but we got into a discussion about riddling. I was flipping through my wine books and didn't see any mention of riddling being used on other types of wine besides sparklings. Is riddling only used for sparklings or is it used in the production of other types of wine as well?

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We were at Schramsburg last week for a tour- I can describe the tour in great detail if anyone wants to know- but we got into a discussion about riddling. I was flipping through my wine books and didn't see any mention of riddling being used on other types of wine besides sparklings. Is riddling only used for sparklings or is it used in the production of other types of wine as well?

Yes, it's really only needed for sparkling wine, but in Port production a somewhat similar technique is used. Ever noticed the swipe of white paint on the bottoms of Vintage Porto bottles? That's where they are marked so that all bottles are turned uniformly.

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Yes, it's really only needed for sparkling wine, but in Port production a somewhat similar technique is used. Ever noticed the swipe of white paint on the bottoms of Vintage Porto bottles? That's where they are marked so that all bottles are turned uniformly.
Why is it only needed for sparkling? Does it have to do with the disgorgement process? Sorry I'm a bit clueless here.
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As I understand it (from a champagne-beer perspective, so I might be missing parts):

1) ferment

2) riddling forces the sediment to the neck

3) freeze the neck

4) open the bottle, shoot the frozen yeast-plug out

5) re-cork (with extra sugar to add more co2?)

so yes, riddling as I understand it, is generally quite tied into disgorgement. Perhaps in the port method that riley is talking about, no sugar is added? not sure.

ETA: the yeast plug being removed is the main difference: yeast makes beer/wine cloudy, so firing it off makes things more clear. I don't know that riddling would ever be done without disgorgement, since getting the yeast to settle in the neck would seem quite pointless if the yeast wasn't then removed.

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We were at Schramsburg last week for a tour- I can describe the tour in great detail if anyone wants to know- but we got into a discussion about riddling. I was flipping through my wine books and didn't see any mention of riddling being used on other types of wine besides sparklings. Is riddling only used for sparklings or is it used in the production of other types of wine as well?

I'm curious what the Schramsburg folks told you about riddling. Do they still do it by hand? Almost none of the major Champagne producers do it by hand anymore. Bollinger riddles all their best wines except Speciale Cuvee by hand now. Not sure how many others. Machines can turn 4,000 bottles at a time now for major production stuff. RM Champagnes are different, I'm pretty sure.

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I'm curious what the Schramsburg folks told you about riddling. Do they still do it by hand? Almost none of the major Champagne producers do it by hand anymore. Bollinger riddles all their best wines except Speciale Cuvee by hand now. Not sure how many others. Machines can turn 4,000 bottles at a time now for major production stuff. RM Champagnes are different, I'm pretty sure.
They riddle basically only their reserve by hand, everything else (the great majority) is all machine driven. Apparently they've got a riddler there who's been there for like 35 years.
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They riddle basically only their reserve by hand, everything else (the great majority) is all machine driven. Apparently they've got a riddler there who's been there for like 35 years.

Yeah, this is pretty awesome. His name is Ramon Viera and he's been with Schramsberg for ages. He turns 30,000 bottles per day and has done as many as 50,000. Our tour guide in May said he was unrivaled in the US and barely matched by anyone in Champagne. Link

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There is a small percentage of bottles of sparkling wine that will not riddle properly by machine. The yeasties are too sticky. To combat this, most of the big houses use yeast that is highly genetically selected to be super easy to riddle. Even a tiny fraction of the gazillion bottles M&C makes a year poses a huge problem if they have to be hand riddled. And there are basically no young riddlers coming up any longer. Most wineries have older, long standing employees doing their hand riddling.

There were also experiements with encapsulating the yeast in glass, plastic or other bariers which would be rendered permiable to the wine and not the yeast. Then riddling would be rendered moot: just flip the bottle, all the capsules would fall to the neck and voila. Never followed up to see if this approach was viable.

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They riddle basically only their reserve by hand, everything else (the great majority) is all machine driven. Apparently they've got a riddler there who's been there for like 35 years.

How cool would that be to have on your business card?

Joe Schmoe

Riddler

:(

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I am not a French lawyer, but I believe hand riddling is part of the Champagne AOC law. The guy who taught my wine training at the Int'l Sommelier Guild said that you should shake hands with a riddler once in your life, if possible. They have the proverbial hands of stone. Also, just to be completely old school about it, Billecart-Salmon even hand riddles its 375ml splits in 375ml bottles. Most houses fill splits from larger bottles.

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