Wine Talk

Snooth User: Mark Angelillo

Great Advances in Winemaking! - The Gyropalette

Posted by Mark Angelillo, Apr 30, 2008.

Bottles of Champagne made in the traditional method are bottled with yeast inside for a period of time. This allows fermentation to continue after bottling, producing CO2 which gives the wine its bubbles. Of course your bottle of Champagne does not come to you complete with dead yeast cells so those cells (the lees) must be removed (disgorged) at some point.

To do this, the lees are slowly inched towards the neck of the bottle. While the wines are still fermenting they are stored at 45 degree angles, cork down, on special racks called pupitres. Every day or so the riddler comes by to riddle the bottles. No, he does not try to confuse them. He gives them all -- each bottle -- a slight twist and a shake, to shift the lees towards the neck.

Doing this once? Easy. Doing this 1000 times? Tedious. Doing this for every bottle produced by a major Champagne house? Well, damn.

Enter the Gyropalette! This device handles the remuage (the riddling process) entirely, removing that tedious work. It's a very specific task, but great for a machine.

The one on the Wikipedia page looks more like a missile array to me than a bottle shaker.

I hear that the top wines at the top Champagne houses are still riddled by hand, but as you can imagine this is a good step forward... and another Great Advance in Winemaking!

I should have an after school special.


Reply by Philip James, May 1, 2008.

I wonder how people will adopt this stuff. Of course its more efficient, but unless the task is totally uniform then maybe a human could gauge subtleties in each bottle and do it better. It also puts a few people out of work.

Ultimately, I think you cant and shouldnt hold progress. Its better for the majority of people. Unfortunately, its not a frictionless process and some people get lost in the switch.

And, yes it looks like a missile battery

Reply by Mark Angelillo, May 1, 2008.

Oh, I'm pretty sure most folks are using these devices already. They have to pay for themselves in short order, and I'm sure the old riddlers are busy bothering Batman anyway -- that's a full time job.

Reply by andrew, May 3, 2008.

It strikes me that this is the type of thing that new world wine producers would pick up on fairly quickly. Even where labor is inexpensive. Like stainless steel, it just makes sense, and result in more decent quality sparklers (always a good thing in my book)

Reply by andrew, May 3, 2008.

Oh, just noticed the patent date - 1968 - these things have been around awhile...

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