Beginners Corner

Snooth User: Diego Andrés Díaz

Differences between the wines made by the methode Traditionnnelle and Charmat process

Posted by Diego Andrés Díaz, Jun 10, 2013.

Hi Snooth. I was wondering what characteristics give these two methods to the wines produced by them. 

Replies

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Reply by outthere, Jun 10, 2013.

Charmat is doing secondary fermentation in stainless steel  whereas Traditional is secondary fermented in bottle. Charmat , akin to Prosecco, is meant  to be drunk  now rather than aged.

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Reply by gregt, Jun 11, 2013.

And as a result of that, the Charmat wines have to be bottled under pressure, kind of like Coke. Supposedly they retain more of their fruitiness with that method, whereas using the Champagne method, you rarely get a lot of fruit, mostly you get yeast and non-fruit flavors. 

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Reply by edwilley3, Jun 12, 2013.

I doubt very much that I will ever be a huge fan of Charmat method wines, although I do enjoy some Proseccos. Still, if one likes richer flavors, then there is just no substitute.

Signed,

Crazy for Vintage Champagne

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Reply by penguinoid, Jun 12, 2013.

I think the main advantage of the charmat method is that it's cheaper and simpler -- you don't have hundreds (or thousands) of individual secondary ferments in bottles, and you don't have the hastle of disgoring these bottles before shipping.

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Reply by Diego Andrés Díaz, Jun 14, 2013.

Thanks for all your answers, but I have have further doubts. GREGT has said "supposedly  they retain more of their fruitiness" That means that are exceptions?? Fruity Cavas?? "Yeasty" Astis??

OUTHERE implied that Charmat wines does not deserved time in the cellar. That is true??

 

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Reply by gregt, Jun 15, 2013.

 Not necessarily. Cava is made the same way Champagne is. Then it follows, or can follow, the Spanish aging requirements so that you can get reserve Cava or Gran Reserve Cava. Those are very much like Champagne and they can age for years. The grapes used are not Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, so they differ in that respect, but you don't get a lot of up front fruit. And these days, the Spanish laws have been changed so that they can use more Chardonnay, which on one hand I think is a shame but on the other I guess is OK since I don't like government regulation of wine varieties. In any event, the younger Cavas tend to be, as with all wines, a bit fruitier than the aged ones, but they're still not like the charmat wines. Since the market is dominated by the 2 largest producers who make oceans and oceans of cheap Cava, many people don't know that there is high quality wine made that can be every bit as complex as any Champagne.

Keep in mind that Chardonnay doesn't have a lot of personality on its own, and that's why whether for still or sparkling wine, it is so manipulated - it rests on the lees for a long time, it's put into oak, etc. And those lees are what gives it a smoother mouthfeel and they also add to the yeastiness on the palate. The traditional Cava grapes of Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel-lo can be similar, although Xarel-lo is a bit more aromatic. Still, they're rather austere compared to something like Moscato, so even if made in a "fruitier" style, they're not ever fruit bombs, at least in my experience.

So yeah, Asti can be a little yeasty I guess, but Moscato d'Asti is so perfumed anyway, and it's often rather sweet too, and those characteristics tend to dominate.

As far as aging - it's a good question. Unlike still wines, I haven't had a great volume of really old Champagne or Cava, i.e. over 40 years, so I don't know definitively. But I do have Cavas in my own cellar that are around 20 years old and they're fine. A lot depends on the producer. Nobody can compete with producers like Cordoniu on price or volume, so some people are taking a counter approach and they're making artisinal Cava that should be very age-worthy.

It also takes a lot longer to produce that wine than to produce it by the Charmat method, and that's another reason the Charmat wines tend to be fruitier - they're usually consumed much younger. Typically they're also made intentionally to be fruity wines - there are yeasts that are specifically used for that reason, i.e. to bring out the fruity character. As to whether or not they age, I would imagine that they wouldn't age as well as the others for the same reasons that many young wines don't age well. That's not to say that you couldn't produce a Charmat wine that might age, just to say that it's not what they're made for so it's not necessarily a wise decision to keep them. Still, one never knows. Try it and find out!

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Reply by outthere, Jun 15, 2013.

Speaking of bubbles I just can't not mention the deal Last Bottle Wines has up right now. A '92 sparkler from the RRV that aged 18 years before disgorgement. A one of a kind offer that I just couldn't pass on and thought I'd share it with those of you not on the LBW mailing list.

 

En Tirage Extra Brut Russian River 1992
THIS is one of the coolest wines we have EVER offered on Last Bottle. The price and level of quality, of course, but this is something that is one-of-a-kind, never-to-be-seen-again, and one of those killer wines that will have your friends, even your wine expert buddies saying: "NO WAY!!" Really! This is amazing stuff - we hit the motherlode!!
 
OK, OK where to start??!! First off, this tastes like Champagne. GREAT champagne. Second, incredibly, it is from Russian River, and while its age might make you think twice - DON'T! This is mind-blowing! It has it all - the toasty, yeasty notes, the honey and caramel from perfect aging, the white pear and apple notes, and wonderfully long and rich. Aged for a mind-boggling 18 YEARS on its lees!! It is AMAZING....if we were handed a glass of this blind we're sure we'd say it was 85 Bollinger RD or 1990 Cristal or something...it is sensationally complex and absolutely fascinating. Imagine your friends eyes when you reveal this as a 1992 Russian River! MANY other people with harder-core palates than ours have commented on this stunning bubbly. Lastly, as you have come to expect, we have a fantastic price on it (not that you can barely even find this wine if you tried).
 
Since we are unlikely to EVER see this again, we highly recommend taking it seriously and loading up. We bought as much as we could for ourselves...we'll be blowing people's minds with it for years to come. There you have it! Another incredible find! 
 
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Reply by gregt, Jun 15, 2013.

OK. I bit. We'll see what we got.

Thanks OT. 

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Reply by JenniferT, Jun 16, 2013.

Aarrrrggh! I want the kinds of shopping opportunities you guys have! I hope that trip comes soon.

In the meantime, I read up on this one partly because I was also curious about the Charmat method. Greg T - thank you, once again, for such informative posts.

(Right now, I'm supposedly drinking the only such wine made in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. I was surprised to learn that the winery received a federal grant to "develop the technology" to do so.)

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Reply by zufrieden, Jun 16, 2013.

Here I am again late to the party.  I think the NYC element has about summed things up.

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Reply by outthere, Jun 16, 2013.

Mine sould arrive on Tuesday Greg, I'll let you know what's up by the weekend. Most things I read say drink it now.

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Reply by gregt, Jun 17, 2013.

Probably so. I don't remember if I told them to hold till fall - you're a lot closer! Kind of different for them to pick this up.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jun 18, 2013.

OT, I almost went for that.  Want to work a trade for one bottle?  It's pretty wild.  Look at my CT and see if there's anything there that seems a fair cop. 

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Reply by outthere, Jun 19, 2013.

BP now has it for $49!


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