Méthode Marlborough - An evolution of the finest traditions
Méthode Marlborough recently produced a brochure to assist consumers with understanding the complex process of crafting méthode traditionnelle wine. Brochures can be attained from any of our 11 members - we would love them to be shared far and wide. For convenience, we have shared the content here also.
Steeped in tradition, crafted in excellence. Méthode Marlborough is a grower led society committed to the production of world class sparkling wine. Through collaboration and education, Méthode Marlborough aims to build awareness for the quality of member wines.
Criteria for membership
Fruit grown in Marlborough
Wine made in Marlborough
Méthode traditionnelle wine production
Classic methode traditionnelle varieties only (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier)
Minimum 18 months on lees in bottle
Méthode traditionnelle is the process used by premium sparkling wine producers across the globe, most famous for its use in the Champagne region.
This laborious technique is recognised as producing the most refined, complex and age-worthy examples of sparkling wine. It is the only production method utilised by the member wineries of Méthode Marlborough.
Marlborough is New Zealand’s premier region for the production of high quality méthode traditionnelle. Its cool climate, alluvial soils and infamous fresh ‘breeze’ encourages vibrant natural acidity which is integral to crafting elegant and structured premium wine.
The production of méthode traditionnelle is a labour of love. After primary fermentation, blending (or assemblage) and bottling, a second alcoholic fermentation occurs in the bottle. This is the same bottle that the wine is eventually sold in as a finished wine.
SECOND FERMENTATION Base wine is blended to the desired style and then bottled with a small solution of yeast and sugar. This begins the secondary fermentation where carbon dioxide is produced and trapped in the wine. This is the creation of the sparkle.
AGEING ON LEES Ageing on the lees is critical to premium sparkling wine. The process of ‘autolysis’ adds complexity and richness to the palate and lifted aromatics to the nose.
RIDDLING After ageing, the lees must be consolidated for removal from the wine. The bottles undergo a process known as riddling (or remuage) where the bottles are given a slight shake and turn pushing sediment towards the neck of the bottle.
DISGORGING The lees removal process is called disgorging (dégorgement). Traditionally this was a skilled manual process where the crown cap and lees are removed without losing much of the wine. Today, many wineries utilise a mechanised process that plunges the neck of their wine bottles into a -27 degree solution freezing the sediment into a plug for swift removal.
DOSAGE Prior to corking, the bottle is topped up with liqueur d’expédition. The level of sugar in this liqueur determine the sweetness or balance of the finished wine.
The finishing touch is a capsule and wire cage (muselet) which secures the cork in place.