Also called “Méthode Traditionnelle” outside of the Champagne appellation, it refers to the fermentation in a bottle, leading to sparkling wines. Traditional method gives you flavours of bread dough and toast and makes the wine taste rich and creamy.
As we often tell our customers, the Crémants from Loire, Bordeaux or Burgundy are made exactly like Champagne (and sometimes made with the same grape or blend).
But what really happens here?
Usually picked up early to preserve acidity, the juice of harvested grapes is pressed off quickly, to keep the wines white (yes we can make white wines out of red grapes).
The first fermentation converts the sugar into alcohol like any other wine. Then, a second fermentation will be done on the blended wine, triggered by an addition of “Liqueur de tirage” (a small amount of sugar and yeast). This second fermentation will happen in bottle in order for the carbon dioxide to be trapped in the wine.
After this, Non Vintage Champagne will be required to age on lees for 15 months to develop completely. For Vintage wines, the ageing must be at 3 years and it could take as long as 6 to 8 years for some special cuvées.
Finally, the lees are then removed (by riddling, disgorging) and the liquid level is topped up with “Liqueur d’expédition”, commonly a little sugar, a practice known as dosage. The amount of Sugar in the liqueur expedition determines the sweetness of the Champagne.
Did you know?
> Modern automated disgorgement is done by freezing a small amount of the liquid in the neck and removing this plug of ice containing the lees
> Some “Maisons de Champagne” (Champagne brands) claim to have secret recipes for this, adding ingredients such as old Champagne wine and candi sugar. And back in 1873, Maumené lists additional ingredients like port wine, cognac, elderberry wine, kirsch, Raspberry Wine, Tannins etc…
Introducing Champagne Malard
Maison MALARD is an independent family champagne house which was founded in 1996 by Jean Louis MALARD, who was born and bred in Epernay, the capital of the Champagne region.