What is Methode Charmat?
9th September 2021
There are many ways in which wines are made that deliver varied styles and results. From generation to generation, throughout the world, wine production has evolved and improved yet basic practises have usually remained in order to produce both still and sparkling wines.
One such way is called the methode Charmat or Charmat method, better known in the English language as the tank method. This is the sparkling wine production method that famously gives us Prosecco along with many other sparkling wines from across the globe.
How does the Methode Charmat work?
There are two fermentations that take place normally using more aromatic grape styles which produce fruity and floral style characters. There follows a cooling and filtering period (additional sugars as required) and bottling. The process is quick and economical which reflects on the price per bottle compared with Champagne (traditional method production process).
- Primary Fermentation: Here the wine goes through its first fermentation where the grape juices are store in stainless steel tanks (the wine will be still at this stage).
- Secondary Fermentation: The still wine is now moved to a new stainless steel tank (autoclave) with added sugars and yeast (to produce the alcohol) where also naturally carbon dioxide (bubbles) will be produced.
- Cooling Period and Filtering: Once fermentation is completed to the requirements of the winemaker the wine is chilled so to stop further fermentation taking place and importantly also the dead lees cells are removed by filter (otherwise the wine will be cloudy). The wine is transferred to a new stainless steel tank.
- Bottling and Sales: Now the wine is ready (usually between 3 to 9 months) to be bottled under pressure, stored and then packaged off to sell.
“Methode Charmat is said to have been founded by Federico Martinotti in 1895 and sometimes his name is used to describe this production method, ‘Metodo Martinotti. We can add to this history the French inventor Eugene Charmat who was said to have improved on the production method by having invented the machinery used to make the wines by this method.”
What does a Methode Charmat wine taste like?
Usually, more aromatic grapes are used to make wines from the methode Charmat, varieties such as Glera, Lambrusco, Riesling and Muscato. The wines will usually have a fruity and floral character, have larger bubbles and be a lot less complex compared to traditional method sparkling wines such as Champagne.
Which countries produce Methode Charmat wines?
Thanks to the success of Prosecco, more and more wineries and countries are using the methode Charmat production process. Popular countries include Italy, America, Germany – You will also find examples produced in England and Slovenia.
The wines tasted for this article were:
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.