Méthode Champenoise

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Méthode Champenoise (Traditional Method, Méthode Traditionelle)

traditionalThe traditional method of making sparkling wine includes growing grapes specifically for sparkling wine production, which are picked on the parameters discussed above. Once the grapes are crushed and/or pressed, the juice undergoes primary fermentation in bulk.

The resulting base wine is blended (cuvée) to meet a particular house-style, and after stabilization, it is bottled with a sugar and yeast addition (tirage, liqueur de tirage) in which a second fermentation takes place in the bottle to produce carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide, and resulting pressure, is conserved in the bottle.

Following the completion of the second fermentation, the bottles are riddled to collect yeast lees into a concentrated pellet within the neck of the bottle. The riddling period also allows the wine contact with the lees and autolytic products. Today, riddling can take place manually (by hand) or by use of machine-automatic riddling racks. After a specific period of time allocation for riddling, the wine is disgorged to remove the precipitated lees contents from the bottle. The bottle is quickly filled with a final sugar addition (dosage, liqueur d’expédition) and sealed with a Champagne cork. The sugar addition in the dosage will determine the sparkling wine’s final sweetness level. Wine examples made using the traditional method include Champagne and Cava.

There are a variety of resources available for producing sparkling wines using the traditional method. One of the easiest to access online is Dr. Bruce Zoecklein’s 2002 edition of “A Review of Méthode Champenoise Production.” Zoecklein’s review is very thorough, and the reader will quickly capture terminology and production situations associated with sparkling wine production.

The grapes are picked, de-stemmed, and crushed, and the juice undergoes fermentation.

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After a blending, the wine is put in bottles with yeast and a smal amount of sugar (the liquer de tirage). It's then stored in cellars for a secondry fermentation in the bottle itself.

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During secondary fermentation, carbon dioxide is trapped within the wine, producing bubbles.

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**(Images from out stock of sparkling wine near Oporto, Portugal)