The idea was to set aside some of our normal Airén wine (which we've done) (see #1 below) and then ALSO do a late harvest and ferment a second lot of wine separately. This wine would have a higher alcohol content and would also contain residual sugar which is needed for the 2nd in-bottle fermentation that takes place in sparkling wines.
Well, as you can see from the photos, there's no grapes!!! We suspect that they were eaten by little animals (rabbits, birds) and/or insects. It hasn't really rained a lot in Madrid since the harvest, except for a few heavy downpours, and night-time temperatures have reached around -8ºC; but the rain and the cold wouldn't have affected the grapes that much anyway. It must have been the animals.
But all is not lost, and we still have options open. The main thing for me now is to carry on and actually produce some sparkling wine somehow or other and to learn for the experience - after all, that's the reason we're doing all these experiments! And I've been looking forward to doing this since last June when the idea first came up, so I'm not giving up now!!!
Basically we need a source of sugar for the 2nd in-bottle fermentation. And these are the possibilities that have ocurred to me so far (in order of preference):
1. Grapes from our own vineyard (Not possible now)
2. Organic grapes from a neighbour (difficuclt, if not impossible)
3. Conventional grapes from a neighbour (almost impossible)
4. Organic grape juice or must (?)
5. Conventional grape juice or must (?)
6. Bog-standard chaptalization like they do in France (?)
I don't really like any of them. But I don't know; maybe there are other options that I don't even know about (yet). Maybe we don't even need residual sugar at all and can do without? I dunno! I'll have to read up a bit on the subject, and not let poor Alfredo do all the brain-work, as he's done up to now!
In any case, next year (because we'll definitiely be trying again next year) we'll have to think about it more carefully and have some kind of contingency plans in place.
Note #1: Our 'normal' Airén, which we've been making now for 8 years has turned out really good this year. (We organized an informal tank tasting last Frinday (post coming soon) and it went down really well!) We're presenting it and releasing it at a Tasting Event that we've organized for Monday 13th December at 20:00, in Madrid (CSO La Tabacalera, Glorieta de Embajadores, 1). See Event on FaceBook: Natural and Organic Wine Tasting