Friday, July 02, 2010

Disgorging

Dégorgement, in French, is the step in the sparkling wine making process that removes the sediments trapped in the neck of the bottle after riddling. The process is completely automated these days. At Monmousseau there is a series of machines that handle it all under human supervision. The first step after loading the bottles upside-down into the machines is freezing.

This machine pops the caps and catches the frozen sediments as they are forced out of the bottle.

The first machine freezes the neck of the bottle where the sediments have collected. The bottles are progressively moved through the freezing liquid by a long-armed robot that finishes by placing the bottles, rows of about fifteen at a time, upright onto a conveyor belt. From there the bottles are visually inspected by one of the winery's staff.

Video inspection of the wine level, cork, and cage.

Next, another machine removes the bottle cap. The pressure built up in the bottle during the fermentation step forces the frozen "plug" out. Invariably, some of the good wine goes out during this process. We saw another staff member with a little tube adding small amounts of wine back into the bottles at this point to ensure the level was consistent from bottle to bottle. In Champagne, what's added can actually be sweetened wine in a process called dosage. But at Monmousseau we were told that the bottles were topped off only with the same wine.

The section of the plant where bottles are labeled and packed for shipment.

Each bottle is then corked and secured with a capsule and wire cage. Another machine uses a video camera to check that the level of wine in the bottle is acceptable and to ensure the bottle is properly corked and caged. Then it's on to labeling and packing.

2 comments:

  1. Where are all the people who do these operations? There's no one in sight. Surely, it's not just that one guy?

    ReplyDelete
  2. starman, there were only two or three.

    ReplyDelete

Pour your heart out! I'm listening.