Sparkling Winemaking: Charmat process or tank method

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

This very common method, also called cuve close (French for sealed tank), tank, or bulk method, granvas in Spanish, autoclave in Italian, was developed by Eugene Charmat in the early years of the 20th century in Bordeaux. Its advantages are that it is very much cheaper, faster, and less labour intensive than the above processes, and is better suited to base wines which lack much capacity for ageing. A second fermentation is provoked by yeast and sugar added to base wine held in bulk in a pressure tank and, after a rapid fermentation, the fermentation is typically arrested by cooling the wine to −5 °C when a pressure of about 5 atmospheres has been reached. The result is clarified, a dosage is added and the resulting sparkling wine is bottled using a counter pressure filler. This style of sparkling wine is the most likely to taste like still wine with bubbles in it, rather than to have any of the additional attributes which can result from fermentation in bottle.