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Mountain Dome Brut 1997
The Manz Family, with occasional help from friends, are the labor force behind Mountain Dome Winery. Our success relies in our ability to remain a small, family-run winery, producing only the finest sparkling wine possible.
Mountain Dome Winery produces exclusively sparkling wines made in the traditional French methode champenoise. The technique of the second fermentation occuring in the bottle is what creates the tiny bubbles at Mountain Dome. All our grapes are grown in the cooler regions of Washington State. A number of different sites were choosen to bring complexity to our blends while insuring a balance between varietal tastes, sugar and acid levels.
We use three kinds of grapes. The Chardonnay adds softness and complexity to the cuvèe or blend while Pinot Noir contributes the backbone and power to our wines. A small amount of Pinot Meunier adds strength and character. Pinot Meunier is an offshoot of Pinot Noir and commonly used in wines of Champagne. The juice is fermented in small French oak barrels. This allows our wines to gain in depth and complexity while causing them to age well. Small French oak barrels also aid in controlling the temperature of fermentation as well as adding complexity in the taste. We use yeast that is available only from Champagne France to add to the bouquet as well as producing tiny bubbles.
Once the wine is bottled, it is aged between three to five years in our temperature controlled winery. This extended aging sur lattes contributes to the complexity of the finish in our wines and adds to the nutty-toasty character. Riddling is the process of carefully turning each bottle multiple time while the bottle is sitting in a shaped rack or pupitre. This motion allows the yeast to move down into the neck of the bottle and lodge behind the crown cap. This riddling is done both by hand and by Gyro-Matic machines that simulate the hand movements.
Then the bottles are carefully transfered to a neck freezer which traps the yeast in a plug of frozen wine. This allows the yeast to be removed and a small amount of dosage or sugared reserve wine is added to each bottle to balance the acid level in the sparkling wine. The juxtaposition of the sugared dosage in the acid wine while in the presence of the bubbles produces a balanced sparkling wine of great complexity and depth. Finally the wine is aged four to six months before it is brought to the market.
A large and geographically diverse AVA capable of producing a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington state’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA even extends into northern Oregon!
Because of its size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which are both further split into smaller, noteworthy appellations. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences extreme winters and long, hot, dry summers. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the entire year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.
Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling. These range in style from citrus and green apple dominant in cooler sites, to riper, fleshier wines with stone fruit flavors coming from the warmer vineyards.
A term typically reserved for Champagne and Sparkling Wines, non-vintage or simply “NV” on a label indicates a blend of finished wines from different vintages (years of harvest). To make non-vintage Champagne, typically the current year’s harvest (in other words, the current vintage) forms the base of the blend. Finished wines from previous years, called “vins de reserve” are blended in at approximately 10-50% of the total volume in order to achieve the flavor, complexity, body and acidity for the desired house style. A tiny proportion of Champagnes are made from a single vintage.
There are also some very large production still wines that may not claim one particular vintage. This would be at the discretion of the winemaker’s goals for character of the final wine.