Sumac Ridge Winery has been making bubbles since the late 80’s and the Stellars Jay label since the mid 90’s. You may even luck out and still find some 98 or 2000’s on some specialty retail shelves. Absolutely worth the buy and if you don’t pick it up, please email me the location and I will go grab it. Sumac Ridge allows their bubbles to sit three years in the bottle with the yeast (en tirage, or on the lees) before taking the yeast out (disgorgement). This allows the wine to develop more complexity and round out the higher acidity. The longer it sits en tirage, the more likely the wine will develop more complexity with yeast and bread like flavours to compliment the fruit.
How long a wine spends on the lees is up to the winemaker and all depends on the wine. I have had some older sparkling wines made by Eric von Krosigk, who is the winemaker again for Summerhill Winery, that spent 7-8 years en tirage to be these complex and sophisticated sparkling wines with lots of life in them. Sumac Ridge follows traditional AOC standards from France that stipulate a sparkling wine with a vintage on it must remain in bottle with the yeast for a minimum of 3 years. If it is a non vintage, then its only 1.5 years.
This 2006 is still available but 2007 is becoming the more common vintage on retail shelves, I will have a review of the 2007 coming soon. With 6 years of age, the bright acidity is starting to drop and give the wine some weight and fleshiness to the mouth feel. I like bubbles with some depth and weight to the palate as it lends itself better to food. I will enjoy drinking this wine for the next three to four years. Please don’t wait for a special occasion to open some bubbles, do like Bella Wines says and “Celebrate Today”.