Note – disgorging is the process of expelling dead yeast (lees) from a bottle-fermented sparkling wine. Disgorging results in a limpid wine. To not do so results in a cloudy wine.
To disgorge or not to disgorge, that is the question.
Pet-Nat purists say “Never Disgorge, by George!” lees are part of the experience; they are the food for the wine and render it fun, real and true to its origin. This is true during Spring and Summer after harvest. However, past a certain time (around a year) in bottle, lees will start to change the wine considerably, and can make it taste flat, closed, ungenerous, reduced.
This action by the lees can be a qualitative maturing process, which has long been understood in Champagne. But disgorging then becomes recommended / necessary. Once the wine is disgorged, with adequate rest it can re-animate itself and become tasty again, once the action of the lees is stopped.
Of course, it is not possible or practical for a drinker to make these decisions… these are decisions made by the winemaker.
So, we reckon it should go something like this, dear winemaker friends…
If you plan to pop all the corks (or crown-seals) before summer is out, no need to disgorge; ride the cloudy train! But if you want your wine to age, leave it on its lees and disgorge it 3 or 4 months before you want it drunk.
…in our humble opinion.
by Charlie Simpson