The difference between Charmat (tank) method and Champagne (Champenoise) method also know as Metodo Classico

File under “sparkling wine production”

Above: Racks for “riddling” classic method wines at Lini. In this and upcoming posts, we are going to look at sparkling wine production terminology and methods.

In today’s world of heightened wine awareness, knowledge, and education, it’s regrettable that there is still so much misinformation on the internets about sparkling wine production.

One of the best and most useful posts we found in our search for well-informed and well-written explanations of the different methods employed for sparkling wine production was “How Sparkling Wine is Made” on the excellent (and wildly popular) wine blog Wine Folly.

We highly recommend it to you. Beyond the introduction to Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine, edited by Tom Stevenson, it’s probably the most comprehensive introduction to sparkling wine production (and it’s free to access).

All of sparkling wine is made by provoking a second fermentation of the wine in a pressurized environment. Sparkling wine gets its fizziness from CO2, a natural by-product of fermentation. When fermentation takes place in an unpressurized environment, that CO2 escapes and the resulting wine is still (in other words, not sparkling). When fermentation takes place in a pressurized environment, the CO2 is captured.

Lini makes sparkling wine using two different methods.

The first is (properly) known as the “tank method.” This is sometimes called the “Charmat method” after the name of a man who patented technology for autoclaves or pressurized vats used in sparkling wine production. Many think he invented it. In fact, it was not invented but perfected by an Italian named Martinotti (it was invented by a producer of Champagne). In Italy, it’s often called the Martinotti method. But for our purposes here on the Lini blog, we should call it the tank method because that best describes the process.

(See this post on the origins of the Charmat or tank method.)

The second is the classic method — a term that causes a lot of confusion. The classic method calls for the wines to undergo their second fermentation in bottle, a process perfected by winemakers in Champagne where it is called the méthode champenoise or “Champagne method.” Because European Union regulations prohibit anyone outside of the Champagne region from using the term, European winemakers use the term classic method or traditional method.

The qualifiers “classic” and “traditional” can be misleading. In upcoming posts, we are going to look at both the terminology and the processes they denote.

Stay tuned…

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