Cuttings - Jen Pfeiffer - July 2013

By Jen Pfeiffer


Hello to you all,
Greetings from the UK!!!


I am currently travelling around the UK on a sales trip, and experiencing a very cold and miserable English summer. I think it might be warmer back in Rutherglen right now!!!!


I am only in the early days of the trip, but our wines are being well received over here, with many comments about their fullness
of flavour, yet elegance of style. I am often reminded of the unique nature of some Australian wine styles – Rutherglen Muscat and Topaque are the obvious wines that spring to mind, but sparkling red is another style that is very unique to Australia.


Australian sparkling red historically has been made from Shiraz. As many of you would be aware, we make our Pfeiffer Pfizz Red from Pinot Noir.  We are so lucky to have our gnarly old Pinot vines (which are now celebrating their 51st birthday) that produce low yielding but highly flavourful fruit. We are releasing the 2010 Pfeiffer Sparkling Pfizz Red first in our July Wine Club pack, which we are very excited about.


2010 was a wonderful growing season for most varieties, and the Pinot Noir (like most of our reds) was fantastic.  We made a number of different parcels, and were able to employ a variety of techniques of production for the different wines. To make the Pfizz Red, we start with a base wine, which is made just as a Pinot Noir table wine would be, i.e. we ferment the wine out to dryness and mature it in oak barrels.  Once barrel maturation is complete, we blend the wine in tank, and clarify the wine in preparation for bottling.Now here comes the tricky bit!!!!  We then add sugar (yep, just plain old white sugar) to the wine and then add yeast, and start what is known as a secondary fermentation. The yeast consumes the sugar, and most importantly in this process, produces carbon dioxide which gives the wine its “pfizzy” character!  


At this point in time, we then bottle the wine (that’s right, while it is fermenting) which traps all that carbon dioxide in each individual bottle. That is why sparkling wine bottles have those big punted bases, so they are able to withhold the pressure within the bottle without exploding. The fermentation finishes in the bottle, leaving a deposit of yeast lees (or solids) in the bottom of the bottle. These yeast lees are very important to sparkling wine, giving it a creamy texture and greater complexity on the palate.  The longer the period of contact of the wine with the yeast lees, the more character they impart. For our Pfeiffer Pfizz Red, we look for a period of about 18 months on its lees. So what happens to these yeast lees, I hear you ask?  How come my glass of Pfeiffer Pfizz Red is not full of all these solids????


When we are ready to release the wine, we start a process called “riddling”. This is where the bottles are turned upside down and on an angle so all the yeast solids slowly settle in the neck of the bottle. Once the lees have been riddled down, we then remove the lees from the bottle through a process called disgorging, in which the liquid in the neck is frozen, creating a plug of leesy ice that is removed from the bottle on opening, without losing a large volume of wine. The small volume of wine that is lost is replaced with what is known as the dosage liqueur.


In the case of the 2010 Pfeiffer Sparkling Pfizz Red, we have used a blend of our 2008 Pfeiffer Christopher’s VP and our 2012 Pfeiffer Christopher’s VP. The dosage liqueur adds a little sugar to the final wine, giving roundness and balance to the palate.


The crown seal is quickly put on to retain all that wonderful bubble in the wine, and it’s done – we are ready for drinking…..oops, I mean labelling and packaging!!!!!


I really hope you enjoy the new release of our Pfeiffer Sparkling Pfizz Red as much as I do.  It has lovely fresh cherry and berry flavours that are a perfect partner for your next celebration!


Jen Pfeiffer