Saturday, November 28, 2009

German Wine Makers in the World: Anton Mueller Invented the Remuage Technique Revolutionizing Sparkling Wine Drinking, 1800s, France

Pictures: The technique of remuage, Madame Clicquot and the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Label

Anton Mueller, a German, is the inventor, with Veuve Clicquot, of the remuage or riddling process. The remuage technique revolutionized sparkling wine drinking. It remains a key elemement in the production of Champagne until today.

Until the beginning of the 1800s, the appearance of Champagne was marred by the lees, the sediment of dead yeast cells that remained suspended in the wine following the secondary fermentation in the bottle. In consuming a bottle of Champagne it was thus necessary to either decant the sparkling wine before serving it or to leave it in the glass for some time so the sediment could settle before drinking the Champagne.

The remuage technique put an end to that.

The system centers around wooden racks into which the bottles are placed neck first at an angle of 45 degrees. Each day the bottles are turned and tilted so that the bottle points further downwards with each day, the process gradually bringing all the sediment into the neck right behind the cork, from where it can be removed during disgorgement. Today, this manual way of riddling sparkling wine is still used for Prestige Cuvées in the Champagne, but has otherwise been largely abandoned because of the high labor costs. Mechanized riddling equipment called gyropalettes, invented in Spain in the 1970s, are used instead.

When riddling is finished, the sediment collected in the bottle neck is frozen to form a "plug" which the next step in the process removes (dégorgement or "disgorging"). After adjusting the level of fill and setting the sweetness, the bottle is corked, caged and labeled; the sparkler is clear --- without any sediment.

Anton Mueller was born in Germany. He moved to France to work in a Champagne cellar. In 1810, he assumed the position of Veuve Clicquot’s cellar master and developed with Veuve Clicquot the system of remuage in the following years. Then he married into the Ruinart family, a famous Champagne family. The Ruinart Champagne House was the first French Champagne House founded in 1729. With the Ruinart daughter, Mueller created his own Champagne House, Ruinart-Mueller, which does not exist anymore.

While at the helm of Ruinart-Mueller, his compatriot Bollinger was one of his employees, before leaving Ruinart-Mueller and setting up his own Champagne House. Bollinger joined Mueller-Ruinart in 1822 to sell their Champagne in the Kingdoms of Bavaria, Hanover, Wuerttemberg and the Netherlands. In 1829, with his Mueller-Ruinart colleague Paul Renaudin de Villermont, he formed the Renaudin-Bollinger Champagne House which would become the famous Bollinger Champagne House.

Here is an interesting slide show from Cornell University about the production of Champagne.

Schiller Wine --- Related Postings

This is part of the series German wine makers in the world:

Anton (Antoine) Mueller, 1800s,France, November 28, 2009
Dr. Konstantin Frank, 1900s,USA, November 14, 2009
Christian Woelffer and Roman Roth, 1900s/2000s, USA, November 12, 2009
Robert Anton Schlumberger, 1800s, Austria, November 7, 2009
Robert Stemmler, 1900s/2000s, USA, November 3, 2009
Eduard Werle, 1800s, France, October 29, 2009

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