Digging through heaps of broken glass to find the survivors of THE HEAT WAVE, the total death toll rose dramatically to almost 2100, leaving less than 1000 survivors.
To set the scene: I now had proper Champagne bottles filled with a wine/yeast mixture under extreme CO2 pressure, sealed with a crown cap (the same as the famous old style metal Coke bottle closures).”
1. To remove all the lees (dead yeast cells), add sugar and replace the crown cap with a proper Champagne cork
2. To make sure I don’t lose one ounce of pressure (CO2)
3. To keep the Cap Classique in the bottle at all times.
Easier said than done – especially if you’re stuck in a Northern Cape cool room filled with springbok corpses, a sheep dosage pump and a cork machine designed exclusively for the purpose of corking wine bottles.
Having no wine rac, I stacked the champagne upside down in grape harvesting crates. Riddling (the constant turning of bottles in order to get the dead yeast cells to assemble in the neck of the bottle) was done by 2 persons lifting one crate at a time and shaking it for about 30 seconds (I wonder what the French would say…) After a week of shaking we stacked the crates in the cooling room. So now the walk-in cool room was filled with Cap Classique and Springbok carcasses: the classic African experience.
I cooled the Cap classique to 4 degrees Celsius. We had no way to freeze the lease (the traditional way of removing all the dead yeast cells), so we made a plan. We discovered that if you turn the bottle from it’s upside down position to an upright position; an air bubble drifts to the surface. If you then open the crown cap at exactly the right time, the bubble will force the lees from the neck of the bottle. Hence you are left with a clean Cap Classique in the bottle… that is, if your timing is right…
We then immediately added a diluted sugar mixture to the now even fewer survivors. A sheep dosage tool came in handy. (We did sterilize the tube and fittings).
The production process was now perfected: One guy digs for Cap Classique in between the Spingbok carcasses, the second guy shakes the bottle once, tilts it and opens it, hoping for perfect timing (if not, it was used for keeping up the spirits of the production team). The wine receives it’s “dosage” of sugar and is corked with a proper Champagne cork applied by a modified wine bottling machine. Finally, the last guy in the production line then adds the wire and tightens it with a plier.