The term “Methode Ancestrale” is a French word which can be translated as “Ancestral Method”. It is used to describe a particular method for making sparkling wines. It is different than the “Methode Champenoise” used to make Champagne, sometimes called “Traditional Method”. It is also different from the Tank Method, also known as “Charmat-Martinotti Method”.
In the 16th century, wine was bottled when fermentation was only partially complete. In the spring, warming temperatures revived the yeast and fermentation ended inside the corked bottle, trapping carbon dioxide.
These sparkling wines were originally cloudy, due to dead yeast cells remaining trapped in the bottle.
Today, this original method of production is only used by a small handful of small artisanal producers. The majority of producers using the Ancestral Method ferment their wines in vats and cool the wine as soon as it reaches 6° alcohol level. This allows the fermentation to be temporarily halted in order to bottle the wine. Fermentation can thus resume in the bottle as soon as the temperature rises. The fact that the end of fermentation takes place in the bottle will allow the CO2 released to be integrated into the wine to form the bubbles that will give all its sparkle to the final wine.