Charmat, Champenoise and Ancestral Method – All the ways to have a sparkling wine.

Here we are again helping you to better understand and appreciate the Prosecco world.

In the previous articles about Prosecco Doc and Docg  we provided an overview of the lands where it is possible to grow and produce Prosecco, and we explained why the wine born on this soil is the only one that can be called “Prosecco”.

Now, before introducing the Int3gral3 wines, let’s learn about some production techniques.
The production method that made Prosecco famous is the Charmat Method, actually invented in 1895 by Federico Martinotti, and later perfectioned by Eugéne Charmat. With this method the grapes are harvested a little in advance of the full maturation, in order to preserve the fruit acidity and freshness. Then the grapes are gently pressed, and the juice obtained is left to ferment. After this first fermentation, the base wine is transferred into an autoclave, with the addition of sugar. Here the wine can re-ferment under pressure in a isobaric system, which preserve the carbon dioxide generated, so that the bubbles can remain in the wine. In order to obtain different levels of sweetness and sugar in the final wine, the fermentation is interrupted at a specific point and the wine is filtered with an isobaric system, which continues till the wine is in the bottle.
We actually have to mention that there are two different types of Charmat methods: short charmat and long charmat. With short charmat the final wine is ready in about 30 days. With long charmat, which is qualitatively higher, final wine requires up to 6 months to be ready, but this often means more structure and body, and a better perlage.
Now it is more clear that Martinotti-Charmat Method is quite different from Champenoise or Classic method, where the refermentation happens in the bottles and the sugar level is decided by adding liqueur d’expédition or sugar after degorgement.

Besides these two methods, there are additional two, which are older than classic method and more or less known as natural or refermented method and ancestral method.
Both methods are seeking for approval by the bubbles’ lovers.
The second one – ancestral method – is the easiest to explain.
Grapes are harvested and pressed to obtain a juice which naturally ferments with its own yeasts. At a certain point, the fermenting process is interrupted by controlled temperature or thanks to the season’s low temperature, so that a little sugar residual remains in the wort.
This wort is then bottled without filtration, with its yeasts, and, during the spring – with higher temperature – the fermenting process starts again, until the sugar ends. The carbon dioxide generated remains in the bottle, giving bubbles to the wine. When poured, the wine is slightly cloudy, with its yeasts on the bottom and a lovely bread and fresh grape aroma. In a few words, this method was used before the invention of the Champenoise method, which uses liqueur d’expédition and degorgement to remove yeast.
Finally we have the refermented method, very similar to the ancestral method but with some more steps: after the first fermentation, wine could be filtered or not be filtered, and bottled with selected yeasts, in order to have a safer control on the re-fermenting process of the wine in every bottle. Usually wine doesn’t pass through the degorgement and, as for ancestral wine, the bottles have crown caps.

Perfect, now you have everything you need to know how we produce our Prosecco and refermented wines. In the next articles, we will learn more and appreciate any pairing suggestion. Keep on following us!