It was Federico Martinotti, at the end of the nineteenth century (1895 to be exact), who developed an all-Italian methodology for the production of sparkling wines. Jean-Eugène Charmat was only the French technologist who industrialized the system, improving it and patenting it in 1907.
We are talking about a sparkling wine production system that provides shorter times than the Classic Method, but qualitatively of great satisfaction.
The sparkling base (or call it if you want base wine) is placed in a stainless steel tank, along with natural yeasts and sugars. The autoclave, this is its name, is a large hermetic container at a controlled temperature, capable of withstanding the high pressures produced during the second fermentation. The big difference therefore, between the Classic Method and the Martinotti Method, is that the refermentation of the base wine does not take place in the bottle but in bulk in these large tanks. The second fermentation takes place in a relatively short time; often, in less than a month, we already have the finished product and the sparkling wine is bottled using an isobaric process, meaning there is no loss of Co2.
Surely faster and, perhaps, less qualitatively recognized, the Martinotti Method allows to obtain young, classy sparkling wines at remarkably popular prices. It differs mainly for the faster production times, the refermentation in autoclave instead of in the bottle and obviously the final organoleptic character.
How does it work:
Blending (or Cuveé) of still base wines by blending products from different grape varieties or from different vintages.
Cuveé sugaring, or adding sugars, selected natural yeasts and adjuvants, inside the autoclave.
Prize de mousse (prize de Mousse) or Tirage where thanks to the action of the yeasts and their production of Co2, this remains trapped in the wine thanks to the hermetic seal of the autoclave.
Refrigeration and filtration of sparkling wine.
Isobaric bottling using a special bottling machine that does not cause the wine to lose pressure.
Labeling and packaging.
Such a rapid sparkling process lends itself to vines with an aromatic character, where the sparkling wine production process does not interfere with the delicate primary aromas of the grapes. In fact, the long permanence of the yeasts with the wine, in the classic method sparkling winemaking, requires vines with a strong character and give notes that are reminiscent of bread and yeast.
The great organoleptic difference that characterizes a Martinotti method is therefore the freshness, the delicacy of the aromas and the ample space left for the floral and fruity notes typical of the grape varieties used.
Sparkling wines today fall within the category of special wines in Italy due to the addition of sugars during the production process. The classification of the sugar dosage, in grams / liter, always remains the same:
Ultra dry (Pas Dosé or Dosage Zero) – residue < 3;
Very dry (Extra Brut) – residue < 6;
Dry (Brut) – residue < 12; Taste Dry but with sweet entry (Extra Dry) – residue 12-17; Sweet (Dry or Sec) – residue 17-32; Amabile (Demi Sec) – residue 32-50; Sweet (Doux) – residue > 50.
Among the most representative productions in Italy we find Prosecco, defined, thought by the French, the best expression of the Charmat Method. But then also Lambrusco, Ribolla Gialla, Durello, without forgetting the very fruity Rosé. Obviously the Martinotti Method makes the most of dessert sparkling wines, therefore Moscati l’Asti, Brachetto d’Acqui and Moscato Fior d’Arancio to name a few.
But the great novelty, which raises sparkling wines produced with this method in the sparkling olympus, is the creation in the 70s, thanks to an Italian, of what in the enological world is called “Long Charmat”, a process that the wines in contact with the yeasts for a longer time, shaking them gently to bring the sediment back into suspension. Sometimes we speak of months, others even of periods beyond the year, where, simulating a cross between the Martinotti Method and the Classic Method, the wine acquires typical fragrances that recall bread but which do not abandon the typical aromatic notes.
If you believed that very fine bubbles belonged only to the Classic Method, you are not the only ones. Among the sparkling wines with the Martinotti Method we find precious and very fine perlage that can put even the most expert of tasters in crisis.
Sparkling wines are not all the same and the winemaking methods obviously give different organoleptic characteristics. Thinking that it can boast of the finest aromatic complexity at affordable prices makes the new Martinotti Method even more identifying the history of Italian sparkling wine.
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