What were you doing in 2000? If it was just before January 1, you were probably worrying about all our computers and anything running with a computer chip and code stops running when the clocks turned to “00”. Luckily we all survived. This was a rare event.
Another rare event is vintage Champagne; that is Champagne made with a year on the label and all the fruit coming from that year. Many Champagne houses only produce non-vintage Champagne so that they can blend from different years and have a consistent house style. But sticking to one year with Champagne, or other sparkling wine, is making a statement.
My case in point is our very own Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna, BC, who recently released their Cipes Ariel 2000 vintage sparkling wine. This wine is made with the Champenoise Method with the secondary fermentation and ageing happening in the bottle. One of the amazing things about this sparkling wine is that it was sur lie (on the lees) aged for 17.5 years till the acidity toned down and the flavours were just right before disgorging and releasing the wine to the public. This is a very special wine.
How It’s Made
Summerhill’s Cipes Ariel 2000 is made from all organic grapes; 60% Pinot Noir, 38% Chardonnay, and 2% Pinot Meunier. As I mentioned after spending 17.5 years sur lie ageing the wine is disgorged. When a bottle of sparkling wine is disgorged most times a little sugar is added back to the bottle. I was told that many trials were undertaken to decide the right amount of sugar and the right type, but in the end, some reserve juice from Summerhill’s grapes was used to add in the sweetness. That is wonderful that their own grape juice was added back to the wine. In Germany some grape juice at crush time is held back and not fermented, then added to the dry fermented wine to add sweetness. This grape juice is known as Süssreserve. I commend Summerhill for using this approach.
The Label and the Bottle
This is a very uniquely shaped bottle and label, for a very unique wine. In the Cipes’ family, one of the brother’s name is “Ari”. Ari is also the Hebrew word for lion. And “el” in Hebrew means “of God” and so you see many angels with names ending in el, like Gabriel, Uriel, and Michael. So you see on the label, the head of two lions facing each other and the heads each looking like angel wings. It is a very nicely done graphic.