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Prosecco & The Charmat Method

01/02/2015

 

Brut Prosecco has its very own particular taste and style and there are a host reasons behind this, for example Glera grapes are harvested early to maintain high acid levels and grapes that are destined for sparkling wine production are hand-harvested at higher yields; however a large cause is the method of production known as the Charmat method.

Also known as the “Italian Method” this technique for producing sparkling wines is what is adhered to at the Follador Winery. This method follows that the second fermentation takes place in a large stainless steel tanks called autoclaves, rather than in the bottle such as is the case with Champagne. By following this method carbonation occurs biologically from the decomposition of sugar from added yeasts.

The method was first researched by Maumèné in the 1800s who thought to speed up the fermentation process by fermenting sparkling wines in large vessels rather than bottles. He built a machine that consisted of a fermentation tank which siphoned the wine off and bottled it. The Italian enologist Federico Martinotti  then took Maumèné’s idea and used large industrial wooden tanks, but the system still suffered to make large, high quality quantities. It was finally adapted and  patented in 1907 by Eugene Charmat (hence the name!) who replaced wooden autoclaves with steel, which was resistant to attack by wine and sulphuric acids.

That wasn’t the end of the development as even in the late 1930s the process was overhauled and refined, purely to adapt it to suit the characteristics of the Glera grape, ultimately leading to the production of the fine Brut Prosecco and clear fresh taste we have come to expect today!