What we call ‘Tank method’ in English (abbreviation for Method in closed tank) is also often called ‘Cuve Close’, ‘Charmat’ or ‘Martinotti’. It is one of the most widely used method in the world to make sparkling wine. It is often opposed to other methods considered more prestigious namely the ‘Méthode traditionnelle’ and the ‘Méthode Ancestrale’. Nevertheless, it is generally considered as a higher quality method than ‘Carbonation’.
The main advantage of this method is that it makes it possible to create sparkling wines in large volumes, quickly and inexpensively. In comparison with the ‘Traditional Method’, the ‘Tank method’ requires way much less labour and maturation costs. It also requires less warehousing costs (as the wines do not need to be aged in the cellar) and a faster commercialization (better cash-flow).
Usually, there is no riddling (some ‘Tank method’ producer however use a paddle to stir the lees) or disgorgement (as there is no second fermentation in bottle). Most of the time, there is also no lees-aging in the tank but some producers keep the wine on lees for few months while in the stainless-steel tank.
One of the most famous sparkling wines in the world produced through this method is the ‘Prosecco’.
Another important advantage of this method is that it allows the producer to preserve the primary aromas of a given grape variety without being altered by autolytic aromas or long aging. This is particularly the case for Prosecco as it is produced using a semi-aromatic grape called ‘Ghlera’ for which a ‘Traditional method’ would totally inhibit the characteristic flavours of the grape.
The ‘Tank method’ is also preferably used for sparkling wines produced from very aromatic grapes for which it is crucial to allow a full expression of the grape aromas without being altered by any autolytic aromas. This is particularly the case for the Italian sparkling Moscatos or even some german Riesling (where producers want to preserve the delicate aromas typical of the Riesling).
“do not display any secondary aromas (autolytic derived aromas) and no tertiary aromas”
The main disadvantage of this method is that the sparkling wines made from the ‘Tank method’ are often rather simple in style and display only a very fruity (primary) flavours. Due to the way they are made, they usually do not display any secondary aromas (autolytic derived aromas) and no tertiary aromas (aromas derived from aging). It also implies large investments in dedicated equipment (such as reinforced pressurized tanks).
Another disadvantage of this method is that because of its market image (lower than the ‘Traditional method’) the grapes used to make this wine are usually of a lower quality and planted on lesser quality sites. Many producers of ‘Tank method’ sparkling wines are looking for high yields so they use higher plantation density, high-yielding grapes and rootstock and lower quality sites (very fertile…). This is what allows them to sell these wines at a very low price. However, there are some exceptions where producers are looking to produce very high quality ‘Tank method’ sparkling wines such as, for example, ‘Rive’ or ‘Cartizze’ Proseccos.