The process starts with the harvest of the grapes for Blanc de Bleu. Chardonnay grapes are harvested early in the ripening cycle. This produces a wine that is light in varietal and fruit character while the balance is crisp and tart. These light and tart attributes will develop into a refreshing wine as the steps to convert it into a sparkling wine proceed.
The harvested grapes are conveyed to tank presses where the juice is gently separated from the skins, seeds, and stems. From the presses the freshly squeezed juice is pumped to a stainless steel fermentation tank.
A yeast culture is prepared from a commercially available yeast strain that has been chosen because of certain desirable fermentation characteristics. This particular yeast ferments without imparting assertive flavors that would detract from the goal of making a light, refreshing wine. To further guarantee that the yeast will perform the fermentation instead of wild yeast that come from the vineyard, a small portion of the Chardonnay juice is pasteurized and the yeast culture is prepared using this juice.
Once the yeast culture is mixed into the fresh juice, fermentation commences in the stainless steel fermentation tank. To maintain the delicate flavors of the fermenting juice, the juice is chilled during the course of fermentation.
After this fermentation is complete, steps are taken to stabilize the wine and filter it. It is now ready to turn into sparkling wine. The sparkling wine process we use to make Blanc de Bleu is called the Charmat process.
The wine is put into a stainless steel, pressurized fermenter. Using the same yeast strain that was used for the primary fermentation, a yeast culture is prepared using pasteurized wine from the same batch of Chardonnay that is being made into Blanc de Bleu.
Fermentation now takes place in a pressurized tank. The fermentation produces a small amount of alcohol, but more importantly carbon dioxide bubbles.
After the fermentation is complete, the yeast is filtered out. A small amount of blueberry juice concentrate is added. Also, the blue color is mixed in at this time. The dosage, a sweetening solution, is added to impart a balance to the wine that is dry, crisp, and refreshing. This is the classic characteristics of a fine Brut sparkling wine.