Sparklin​​​g wine​ : Champenoise and Charmat methods

Introduction

Hey everyone, we are very happy to be back after a long time. Today we will address a topic that we have noticed is a source of confusion and inaccuracy: the Champenoise method (classical method in Italy) and the Charmat method (Martinotti in Italy).

How often do we hear people label a bubble wine, for example a Prosecco, as “Champagne”, without taking into consideration the method or the area in which the wine was produced? For this reason, we have decided to insert this article in our website in order to finally clarify any doubt or uncertainty related to these extraordinary methods. 

Charmat method

First of all, we will start by talking about the Charmat or Martinotti method, which inherits the name from Federico Martinotti, who is the founder of the method, and Eugène Charmat, who patented the tools to utilize it. The wine produced by means of this practice come from still white wine, which at first is subjected to a standard fermentation, and later on to a second one in an autoclave made of steel, with the addition of sugar and yeast. This phase can last from thirty to even six months during which the yeast converts the sugar into alcohol and Co2, thereby creating bubbles. This method is rather fast and elementary, and therefore it results in light and fresh wines, with a noteworthy Perlage (shape and size of the bubbles). 

Champenoise method

We can now move on to the Champenoise or Classical method, which inherits the name from the Champagne region, and which differs from the previous method mainly because the second fermentation is carried out directly in a bottle. 

Usually, the starting point is a “cuvèe”, that is the union of wines that differ for their type and year, and to which yeast and sugar are added. The second fermentation takes place when the bottle rests, in a horizontal position, for about 24/36 months, sometimes even more. Thereafter, the so-called “remuage” begins, in which each bottle is rotated by 1/8 and inclined with the neck of the bottle facing down in order to let the leftovers settle. In doing so, when the bottle is put into a vertical position, the leftovers will be settled in contact with the cork, and will be freezed through specific tools. This leads to the disgorgement, through which the bottle is uncorked and the freezed leftovers expelled. Thereafter to the dosage, through which a blend of sugar and wine is added in order to obtain the original level. This method takes more time, is more expensive and complicated, but it provides more structured and consistent wines, along with a more delicate and faint perlage. 

Last, but not least, we will add the classification of sparkling wine based on their sugary content:

– Brut nature: sugary content less than 3 gr/l

– Extra brut: sugary content less than 6 gr/l

– Brut: sugary content less than 12 gr /l

– Extra dry: sugary content between 12 and 18 gr/l

– DrySecco: sugary content between 18 and 35 gr/l

– Demi secAbboccato: sugary content between 33 and 50 gr/l

– DolceDoux: sugary content more than 50 gr/l

We hope you enjoyed reading this article, stay tuned!