Pink Elephant Sparkling Wine 2009
how do you like your pink elephant?
lying down (with company) or standing up?
A rare offering of vintage 2009 Pink Elephant that has been aged on the lees in bottle (lying down with company … see below) for 6 years/72 months.
This limited release is the result of a trial initiated by winemaker Del Halladay in 2009 to evaluate the effects of the technique of ‘sur lies aging’ on our méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine. Sur lies (pronounced soo'r lee) aging is the process of allowing a finished wine to continue to sit on the lees in order to extract flavors. What are lees? Lees are sediments consisting of dead yeast cells, fruit pulp, seeds, and other matter that accumulates during fermentation. As the yeast cells, pulp and seeds start to break down during the process of autolysis, they release tiny amounts of sugars (called polysaccharides) and amino acids. The presence of these compounds is sensed on our tongues and palates as a textural weightiness or increased body in the wine. Sparkling wines that are aged on the lees are often described as creamier, richer, fuller-bodied or with a greater depth and complexity of flavor. Besides the added textural creaminess, the release of fatty acids (which come from the breakdown of the yeast cell wall) add to the aromas/flavors in wine. Traditional method sparkling wines that are aged for extended periods on the lees will have increased flavors of toast, bread-like aromas, cheese or buttermilk-like aromas, floral elderflower-like aromas and sometimes sweet, nutty aromas.
Not much research exists for assessing the effect of sur lies aging on sparkling wines made from apples vs traditional pinot noir or chardonnay grapes, but in the example of the Pink Elephant 2009 tasted in contrast to the most recent release of conventionally aged Pink Elephant 2013 we find the same effects: a more rounded, creamier mouthfeel, aromatics evolved with more high floral notes, and a softer lingering finish of red berry.
2009 pink elephant, méthode traditionnelle, sur lies aged
Bright pink/ruby appearance. Aromatics: strawberry and red berry complimented with a more floral top note. Rounded rich and soft in the mouth. Long lingering finish with biscuitty notes, savory strawberry shortcake
2013 pink elephant, méthode traditionnelle, encapsulated yeast
Salmon colored to meniscus on appearance. Aromatics: green apple and black currant. Fresh, fruit forward, green apple flavor dominates, crisp currant flavors finish.