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The Ancestral Method

What is the 'Ancestral Method'?


The ancestral method, also known as méthode ancestrale or pétillant naturel (pét-nat) in French, is a traditional method of producing sparkling wine. This method involves bottling wine before it has finished its first fermentation, allowing the fermentation to finish in the bottle, trapping carbon dioxide inside and creating natural carbonation.
In the ancestral method, the grape must (juice) is fermented in the same way as still wine until it reaches a certain level of sweetness. At this point, the wine is bottled before all the sugar has been converted to alcohol, allowing the remaining sugar to be fermented by the yeasts in the bottle. This secondary fermentation produces carbon dioxide, which is trapped in the bottle, creating the bubbles in the wine.


How does the 'Ancestral Method' differ to the 'Traditional Method'?


Unlike the traditional method used to produce Champagne, where a dosage of sugar and yeast is added to the wine before bottling, the ancestral method relies solely on the residual sugar in the wine to feed the yeasts and create the bubbles. This results in a wine that is often less effervescent and has a slightly cloudy appearance due to the presence of yeast sediment in the bottle.

The ancestral method is still used today to produce sparkling wines in many regions, while it is difficult to attribute the invention of the ancestral method to a specific individual, this traditional winemaking technique has been used by generations of winemakers throughout history and continues to be used by many today.

What Ancestral Method wines do we stock?


Here at Cave we stock a diverse range of ancestral method wines. The ever-delicious ‘Col Fondo’ from Malibran in Italy uses the same ‘Glera’ grapes as Prosecco yet offers a far greater complexity and intensity of flavour, this is largely down to the unfiltered yeasty residue found at the bottom of ancestral method wines. This drop moves away from the simple profile of most Prosecco and offers Alpine herbs, apples and minerality.

If one were to look for a truly unique wine, look no further than producer Beck-Hertweg from Alsace. This Ancestral Method blend of Muscat, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris combine into cloudy pink visuals and a strong nose of rose that could have you thinking you were smelling Turkish delight from the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. As with all ancestral method wines, the bubbles are softer than other modern sparkling wines due to their creation during their time fermenting inside the bottle. The naturally occurring sparkle of these wines also means they should be drunk in timely fashion as the sparkle does not last as the carbonated sparkling wines many are used too.

Seek out and taste a genuine piece of wine-making history and discover evolutionary roots of the sparking wines we know and love today.


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