Did youknow ?
The term “tirage” references the process ofputting the “vin clair” or base still wine into the bottle resulting in thesecondary fermentation process otherwise known as the prise de mousse or the taking on of the bubbles. This processcreates the CO2, which will turn into the eventual bubbles/foam found in yourglass once a bottle of champagne is opened.
The steps involved in the tirage process are numerous and requirecare and attention.
-Preparation of the starter cultures (theliving yeasts that will start the fermentation process). This includes themultiplication of these yeasts and their increasing familiarizations to the prise de mousse conditions.
-The preparation of the liqueur de tirage (the sugar that dissolvesinto the wine). The quantity of sugar added for the prise de mousse is in between 22 and 24 grams per liter of sugar.
-Choice of clarification agent: somethingwith an either mineral and/or organic base (tannin, bentonite, alginate). Theseagents are added so that they can attach to the dead yeasts (or lees) stoppingthe lees from attaching to the side of the bottle. It also makes the resultingdeposit heavier, allowing it to slide more smoothly towards the neck of thebottle. Lastly, with this added heaviness, the yeasts are less likely to floatinto the center of the bottle rather, they stick to the sides.
-Monitoring the tirage mixture: rightbefore the wine is put in the bottle, a homogenous blend of the liqueur de tirage, the selectedcultures, the clarifying agents, and the wine, are placed in a tank connectedto a stirrer.
-Once the mixture is prepared, it is putinto the bottles, thanks to an efficiently speedy “filler” machine. The bottlesare then topped with an aluminum tiragecapsule.
-The bottle arrangement in the cellar: theaction of arranging the bottles on their side-top to bottom, stacked, or in thegyropallette is called the mise sur latte.
-The follow through of the prise de mousse: the prise de mousse is achieved once all of thesugar has been transformed into alcohol. The degree of alcohol should beaugmented by 1.3 degrees with a final total of 12/12.5 degrees. The coolertemperatures in the cellar; the lack of oxygen; the higher quality of alcohol,all work towards creating a very unfavorable condition for the yeasts. This iswhy the prise de mousse takes solong, and is a gage of the finesse of the oncoming bubbles.