Can you age Charmat Method?

24th August 2022

vintage prosecco

In the world of sparkling wine we see mostly two production processes being Traditional method and Charmat method. These two processes make the more popular sparkling wines we are familiar with such as:

Traditional Method: Champagne / Cava / Cremant

Charmat Method: Prosecco / Lambrusco / Muscato

Charmat method is also known as the tank method and it is the most popular style of wine production for the making of sparkling wine globally. Charmat method is a quicker process of making sparkling wine compared to traditional method, normally also being the cheaper production method thus cheaper price per bottle produced for the end consumer.

Most popular wine for the Charmat method is Prosecco and globally this wine has a growing fan base as export figures expand and accessibility increases. We all know and love Prosecco for being that fresh and fruity sparkling wine option, easy to drink and very versatile be it mixing within cocktails or even pairing with foods. With Prosecco in mind, let us mix things up a bit and instead of thinking about young and fresh, let’s consider old(er) and complex – Can we really age Prosecco?

You can in fact purchase vintage Prosecco today, though let us be clear that vintage does not mean old in the wine industry, it means that the wine in question was made from the grapes of just one year which is the one stated on the bottle – Most times wines are made from a blend of juices spanning different years and are known as non-vintage. Prosecco labels that are vintage have Millesimato printed on the label and it is very likely that the year will be either the one we are in or no more than last years – Most Prosecco is designed to be enjoyed sooner rather than later. So once again, we question why we would consider ageing Charmat method bubbly such as Prosecco!

Prosecco is made to be drunk within a couple of months and it is made using a higher sugar to acid ratio, which makes the lifeline of Prosecco shorter than traditional method sparkling wines.” source Does Prosecco Go Off?

Sandro Bottega Prosecco

Sandro Bottega – Copyright Bottega Prosecco Winery


In 2018 Sandro Bottega organized the first Prosecco Vertical tasting in Canada. Guests tasted the vintages from 2013 to 2017 of Il Vino dei Poeti Prosecco DOC Brut. After that, Bottega proposed the same event format in UK and in other countries. I was lucky enough to have been invited to the London tasting which took place at the Barbican Centre and a most relaxing and pleasant afternoon saw us experience the vast potential for ageing Prosecco. Sandro, from Bottega, holds great passion for this subject with his winery being one of the leading brands in this sector.

Sandro Bottega comments: “There are many qualities of Prosecco and the one we produce respect the highest standards; it can have a shelf life even 8-10 years, even longer than a champagne after the disgorgement, acquiring new aromas and complexity. The quality of the grapes makes part of the difference, but also the fermentation period and methods: we cannot disclose all our secret, but we can say that the maceration process, included a crio maceration, as well a correct fermentation process included a minimum period of 3 months of batonage (during which the dead lees release some important compounds which enhance the body, the structure and the aroma of the wine), can offer to the final prosecco a very special quality.”

I should not bang on too much about Prosecco as many other countries produce Charmat method sparkling wines including England, Slovenia and Argentina with vintages being produced also. From my vast tasting experience of sparkling wines I can say that Slovenia is also producing some unique Charmat method fizz sometimes not too far away from the fruity Prosecco tasting experience and yet also many more with different characters altogether. In England we have Charmat method being used of which they are classified as ‘Sparkling Wine from England‘ (traditional method are classified as ‘English Sparkling Wine’), the rosé from Fitz (Fitz Pink) being a stand out label for me.

If I am honest, upon my first few years in the wine sector, I would have said ‘no way’ regarding ageing of Charmat method, the style of wine will just not benefit from maturing. I have though since very much changed my mind following two incredible tastings – One being at the winery of Loredan Gasparini where I enjoyed a selection of aged Prosecco with Lorenzo Palla and also thanks to Sandro Bottega at his ‘Il Vino dei Poeti Prosecco DOC Brut’ tasting in London. Thanks also to me being a wine collector these days to include many times purchasing whole collections where I usually get many dated ‘never got round to drinking’ Prosecco labels included and sometimes there are millesimatos of a decent age – These are sometimes an orchestra of rich aromas and flavours.” Christopher Walkey

We live on opinions in life and it is always healthy to get those from other perspectives – I contacted our good friend and respected Russian wine reviewer and journalist Tatiana Mann Pakhmutova who feels that Prosecco (Charmat method) should ideally remain in the style that it has been acclaimed for: “Prosecco you expect floral characters, a fruity taste sensation in the palate – It is young and attractive bringing happiness. It is like Cheddar cheese, everyone knows (and expects) the flavour. So if we build the profile of Prosecco as young, friendly, floral, peachy character it’s what consumers want. Why make them confused with experiments?

A quote I received from the Prosecco winery Loredan Gasparini: “We do believe that aged Prosecco has potential as it offers an intriguing complexity and evolution. We like to demonstrate that the ‘legend’ that Prosecco is a wine to be drunk in the year following the bottling is not true, or at least it’s not true for wines produced by small family owned wineries like ours that put quality before everything. The richness of our own estate grown grapes from the exclusive DOCG Asolo denomination combined with the use of our own indigenous yeasts and low temperature long lasting fermentations offer a Prosecco that is truly unique and that can withstand years in the bottle easily.

For this article I have wondered into the Glass of Bubbly vinotheque room and the collection of aged Charmat method sparkling wines to pick out a few in order to discover if we can in fact age successfully Charmat method and be able to at least maintain the aroma / taste values of the wine or, preferable, improve on them. Also a big thank you to Bottega who sent me a vintage from their collection for inclusion.

Christopher Walkey tasting notes:

Bottega Gold Prosecco DOC (2020) – Tasting notes: “The freshness of this wine hits you immediately on the nose throwing you white floral, lemon, pear aromas. Flavours are crisp with a natural sweetness – Floral, soft expression of honeysuckle, honeydew melon, yellow pear flesh.”

Bottega Vintage 2017 Prosecco DOC – Tasting notes: “Just three years its senior and we have a noticeable difference and for me, superior quality. The depth of aromas and flavours have increased as have the length of each layer being expressed. Aromatic style on the nose with bunches of honeysuckle and sweet golden apple flesh. Flavours are much more complex over the younger 2020 label with more intensity showing honeysuckle, golden apples, honey, soft pastry notes.

Tatiana Mann Pakhmutova tasting notes:

Bottega Gold Prosecco DOC (2020) – Tasting notes: “I am very impressed with the improved quality from this Prosecco brand. This tasting shows to me a much better quality and favours, a good example from DOC Prosecco.

Bottega Vintage 2017 Prosecco DOC – Tasting notes: “I am pleasantly surprised. You can certainly experience a finer quality and increased depth of aromas and flavours. Yes, I can agree, there is potential for ageing Prosecco and let us see how the consumers embrace it.


Bottega adds: “If stored in the best conditions 8-10° in a dark room, it is remarkable how well the Prosecco can aged, proving that one can indeed enjoy the sparkling wine for at least five or more years after the production. Prosecco acquires with longevity some very ripe golden apple, with scent of oxidative flavors, it loses part of the typical freshness and become more complex. The aim of our vertical tasting is not to push consumers to prefer aged Prosecco, but to demonstrate that the superior quality of our wine allows the aging. It is off course different by the fresh Prosecco, but also after some years it represents a pleasant experience for wine lovers who want to taste something unusual.”

Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.