Elentone produces wines that combine the tradition of European sparkling wine houses as well as the adventurous and creative spirit of Washington wines. This opens up the opportunity to taste the complex Traditional Method made famous in Champagne with Washington grapes.
The Traditional or Champagne Method is well known for delivering a high standard because of its complex process. There is the primary fermentation where a base wine is made, followed by adding yeast and sugar to start a secondary fermentation in the bottle. This crucial step creates the fine bubbles because of the high pressure in the bottle. The wine is aged, and for premium quality, this translates to a minimum of 36 months for the yeast to impart the desired aromas and tasting characteristics. The wine is then riddled (remaining yeast molecules are collected in the neck of the bottle) and disgorged (yeast is removed). Finally, the winemaker adds their own recipe of sugar and wine liqueur, also called dosage, to balance the wine for a perfect tasting experience.
Named after the Old English for the winemaker's hometown, Elentone is influenced by the history of the UK and Champagne partnering to make premium wines. Though Dom Perignon is often credited as inventing sparkling wine in 1697, the first documentation of the Traditional Method, where the winemaker deliberately adds sugar to create the bubbles in sparkling wine, was by the English physician Christopher Merrett in 1662. While researching glass production, Merrett wrote about bottles that could withstand the high pressure of secondary fermentation. Such bottles were produced in Newcastle upon Tyne by Sir Robert Mansell, and were much stronger than what was available in France at the time so sparkling wine could not have been regularly produced.
However, once the French had access to better quality bottles they were certainly able to elevate sparkling wine. They began regularly producing in the Traditional Method in Champagne in the 19th century, though the wines were sweeter than most Champagnes produced today. Perrier-Jouet was the first to lower the dosage for Londoners in 1846, and the Brut designation was created for the British in 1876.
Elentone believes in following this artisanal approach. Each bottle carries with it grape analysis, hand harvesting, extended aging, hand riddling and disgorging, and a custom dosage. The standard of premium sparkling wine can be produced locally with the chance to capitalize on Washington's unique terroir, and therefore establish Washington's own sparkling wine identity.
Any evening can be memorable and worth celebrating. It is said that when two magpies are spotted together, something magical is in the air. Hence the English saying...