Over 20 years ago Fattoria La Vialla ventured into the ebullient waters of “bubbly”, beginning with a Tuscan spumante – rather unusual at that time – made with its own organically and biodynamically cultivated grapes: Chardonnay, Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Pinot Nero. The passion for this “sparkling” category of wine lead the family to experiment with other types, not just using the Charmat Method but also the Metodo “Ancestrale” (= Ancestral Method), a sort of Viallino Pét Nat (pétillant naturel = naturally sparkling), as well as some “unfiltered” ones. The Fattoria’s sparkling wines are guaranteed organic and biodynamic, they have a low sulphite content (58-85 mg/l) and some are unfiltered. They range from the sweet Zanzarato to “brut” and “extra brut” wines and, generally speaking, are dry.
How sparkling wine is made with the “Metodo Classico”
Also known as the “Méthode Traditionnelle” or “Méthode Champenoise”, this is the most famous production method for sparkling wine, invented in France at the end of the 17th century. After the first alcoholic fermentation, the so-called “base wine” (mainly made with Pinot Nero or Chardonnay grapes) is bottled with the addition of yeast and sugar (the “liqueur de tirage”) in order to trigger the second fermentation, which then takes place directly in the individual bottles. The carbon dioxide released during this process creates the typical little bubbles. After the wine has spent the established length of time resting on its lees (minimum 24 months for La Vialla), the yeast sediment is extracted by means of “dégorgement” (once done by hand, nowadays mechanically). The bottle is then topped up with “liqueur d'expédition” and, lastly, closed with a champagne cork.
...…and with the “Méthode Charmat”
Nowadays, the Charmat Method is the technique most commonly used to produce sparkling wine. It consists in transforming the base wine in stainless steel tanks, at controlled pressure and temperature. Yeast and sugar are added to trigger the second fermentation at a low temperature. This process results in the formation of carbon dioxide, which creates the typical effervescence. The sparkling wine is then bottled and sealed with a cork, to conclude the procedure. Freshness, fruity aromas, good drinkability and hints of yeast are the characteristics of sparkling wine produced with this method.
What is the “Metodo Ancestrale”?
The “Metodo Ancestrale” or Ancestral Method (the French “pétillant naturel”, naturally sparkling) is the oldest technique for making sparkling wine; a sort of cross between the traditional and Charmat methods. It foresees that the grape must is fermented directly in pressurised tanks, without anything being added. Sparkling wine produced in this way has intense fruity aromas, a unique character thanks to the autochthonous yeasts, and delicate sensations that are given by these yeasts.