The François Technology
The François name is synonymous with tradition and quality. In our cellar, sparkling wine is still made by traditional Champagne method (Méthode Traditionnelle).
The process begins with the sparkling wine’s base wine, which has a relatively low alcohol content and high acid content. The base wine is made of grapes harvested prematurely from our own vineyard in the Etyek-Buda wine region. Following the harvest, the grapes are processed gently. To turn a wine into sparkling wine, some sugar must be added to the base wine, so it is sweetened, and fermented again in a closed system. The sugar is added in the form of tirage liqueur, which is basically beet sugar dissolved in base wine. Finally some yeast culture is added to the sweetened base wine. These organisms turn the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The mixture of base wine, tirage liqueur and yeast starter is called cuvée.
The cuvée is filled into normal 0.75 l sparkling wine bottles, and sealed with a crown cork. The bottles are stacked in the cellar, and on a temperature of 12°C, the main fermentation takes approximately 3 months. During this time, the yeast culture completely depletes the added sugar, and the produced carbon dioxide is absorbed by the liquid. Since there are no more nutrients in the fermented sparkling wine, the yeast culture is annihilated. On this so-called sediment, the sparkling wine needs years to age, to develop its unique taste and aroma.
The next step is to remove the sediment from the bottles’ inner surfaces. First, the sediment is shaken down onto the cork. This process is done on special wooden boards, called “shaking racks”, with cone-shaped holes on it, where the bottles’ necks are fixed upside down. The process entails turning and changing the angle of the bottles until the sediment gets on the cork, and leaves only crystal clear sparkling wine above.
Next, the sediment has to be removed from the bottle. This is called disgorgement, and it means popping the sediment from the bottle after freezing it. This process begins with dipping the bottles’ necks into an inch deep -25°C salt solution. The sparkling wine freezes in the bottle neck, and an ice cork is formed, sealing the sediment within. Then, when the bottle is opened, the extra pressure pops the ice cork with all the sediment, leaving behind the crystal clear sparkling wine in the bottle.
The quantity of the lost liquid is replaced by expedition liqueur, which is made of excellent quality base wine and beet sugar. This is how our brut sparkling wine’s final sugar content (dosage) is adjusted. This last step is omitted when making our crude sparkling wines, so that the consumers get a chance to enjoy the buoyancy and full complexity so characteristic to these completely dry sparkling wines.