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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Champagne Mead (Méthode Champenoise)

Méthode Champenoise Mead by Traditional Mead
 © 2011 Douglas Remington

Méthode Champenoise is the traditional way in which Champagne grape wine is made in the Champagne region of France. The same processes can be applied with Mead, since traditional Mead is made and reacts much in the same way as white wine production.

After fermentation the wine is bottled with some fresh yeast and a dose of sugar or honey.

Riddling: After a certain amount of aging the lees are consolidated in the neck for later removal, and this is called remuage. The bottles are inverted on special racks known as pupitres at a 45 degree angle with the crown of the bottle pointed downwards. Usually once a day the bottles are turned and shaken sharply and the angle is gradually increased over a period of time until the bottles are vertical and all the lees (sediment) are captured in the neck plug.

Disgorging: Removing the lees is called disgorging. The neck of the bottle is frozen and the cap and frozen plug is quickly removed and a dosage of sugar or honey is added to the bottle and it is quickly corked to ensure the proper carbonation level.

Metodo Italiano (Charmat process)
The Charmat process is known as Metodo Charmat-Martinotti. This method was invented in Italy. The wine undergoes secondary fermentation in stainless steel tanks or steel vessels rather than in the bottles. It is then transferred to bottles for final sale. This is less costly than the Méthode Champenoise process and some feel it does not provide the same quality that the French practice. This is the most realistic way for a home Mead maker to make "Champagne" Mead. The finished product is transferred into a Cornelius keg and then bottled with a counter pressure bottle filler or a beer gun.

Stay tuned for reviews of some of these Méthode Champenoise Meads by Heidrun Meadery in California and Die Hochland Imker in Austria.

~dr