Category: Bele Casel

Charmat method or Martinotti method? Did an Italian or Frenchman invent modern Prosecco?

Today, we call it the Charmat method. But is it more properly called the Martinotti-Charmat method?

By the end of the 1800s, the discoveries of Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) had radically changed the way wine was understood. The fact that he essentially created the field of microbiology and was the first to identify yeast as the key agent in fermentation, i.e., the conversion of sugar into alcohol, launched the new science of wine.

When he first announced and published his major findings in the 1850s, sparkling wine was already being made on a large scale in Champagne. And by the end of the century, one of the pioneers of sparkling wine science, Frenchman Edme-Jules Maumené (1818-1898), was already experimenting with methods for accelerating the classic method or Champagne method of sparkling wine production.

The idea was to reduce the amount of time it took to achieve effervescence, which, was extremely time-consuming in a world without temperature-controlled fermentation where sparkling wine was produced exclusively in bottle.

It’s believed that Maumené was the first to experiment with second fermentation provoked in a large vessel rather than a bottle.

And it’s really he who invented the process by developing a bung and other apparatuses that allowed him to seal and pressurize the fermentation vessel.

But it was Italian Federico Martinotti (1860-1924), a Piedmontese, who first applied for a patent for a pressurized fermentation apparatus.

And then it was a Frenchman, Eugène Charmat, who patented a new model of pressurized stainless steel vat for the production of sparkling wine in 1907.

This is at least what I can find on the internets.

When it comes to Charmat on the internets, there are many variations of his name (he’s more frequently called Auguste Charmat). And nowhere can I find his year of birth and year of death.

I believe that his name was Eugène because there are English-language documents that show him to be the owner of the patent for a process for “decanting sparkling wine and other fermented drinks.”

The bottomline is that it was most likely Maumené who discovered a method for the production of sparkling wine in pressurized vessels. Martinotti most likely refined the process and applied it on a commercial scale in northwestern Italy (where Moscato and Malvasia were probably the first wines produced as such). And it was Charmat who designed and patented the pressurized tanks that would become the standard for the production of closed tank sparkling wine production.

To be continued…

Extra Dry Prosecco: “Making a Bellini with this wine is almost a crime…”

Extra Dry by Bele Casel: “Making a Bellini with this wine, whilst undoubtedly delicious, is almost a crime when it is so good “naked,” writes British wine expert Edwin Dublin, from London.

I recently poured the Bele Casel Prosecco Extra Dry at an event where I was working in Los Angeles and I was reminded of what a great wine it is.

Col fondo (colfòndo) wines, made using the ancestral method as opposed to the conventional Martinotti method for Prosecco, are so popular right now that we often forget that the Prosecco boom didn’t start with dry expressions of the appellation but rather sweet expressions. In fact, as much as the hipster wine community focuses on the former category these days, there’s a reason why 99 percent of the world still drinks Extra Dry: It’s because IT’S SO DAMN GOOD!

Joking aside, I was really impressed by the balance in this wine, which I hadn’t tasted for a long time (because I missed Vinitaly in 2017), between its not overbearing sweetness and just the right touch of classic bitterness and greenness, hallmarks of true Glera as vinified in Prosecco DOCG (No banana candy or sweet apples here, folks!)

I was reminded what British wine authority Edwin Dublin, who writes for the Berry Bros. & Rudd in London, had to say about this superb, approachable, but very classic expression of Prosecco.

“Making a Bellini with this wine, whilst undoubtedly delicious, is almost a crime when it is so good ‘naked.'”

“A deliciously soft and spritely white flower and greengage-fruited Prosecco with perfectly interwoven sugar…”

I couldn’t say it better myself. And it was gulped down gladly by nearly all the guests at the party — a fancy Los Angeles affair — where I was working pouring wine.

Jeremy Parzen
Blogmaster

The best Spritz recipe? Use the best ingredients, including the Prosecco!

The secret to a great spritz? Use great Prosecco!

With meteoric speed, the spritz has become one of the most popular cocktails in America.

Not only does the wildly popular online wine, beer, and spirits magazine PUNCH currently feature literally scores of posts about the spritz, its editors-in-chief Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau are about to publish a book devoted to the aperitif and its history.

“Called Spritz, it will explore ‘the culture, history, and revival of spritz cocktails.’ Baiocchi tells Eater that the book will contain 50 recipes — both classic and modern — and original illustration ‘inspired by the Italian liquor ads of 1930s, 40s, and 50s.'”

The spritz has been a favorite of the Venetians and Friulians for decades. And while Americans generally hold Aperol to be the number-one bitters for the spritz, in Friuli and the Veneto their are myriad producers of aromatized bitters.

A lot of people tend to reach for the cheapest Prosecco they can find when making this excellent summer cocktail.

But we really believe that you’ll taste the difference when you use a high-quality Prosecco like ours. It really can take the drink over the top!

Next time, reach for Bele Casel: When it comes to make a great cocktail, you need to start with the best ingredients. Try using a high-quality Prosecco like Bele Casel’s and you’ll find that the proof is in the pudding… ahem… cocktail! We recommend using our Prosecco Extra Dry.

According to Wikipedia: “The drink is prepared with Prosecco…, a dash of some bitter liqueur such as Aperol, Campari, Cynar, or, especially in Venice, with Select. The glass is then topped off with sparkling mineral water. It is usually served over ice in a lowball glass (or sometimes a martini glass or wine glass) and garnished with a slice of orange, or sometimes an olive, depending on the liqueur.”

Tex Mex tacos and Prosecco Extra Dry, a perfect pairing!

Tex Mex tacos and Prosecco Extra Dry, a match made in heaven.

There are tacos and then there are tacos…

In central Mexico, tacos are generally stuffed with meats, like pork, beef, or even sweetbreads or calf’s head or tongue.

Along the coast and in southern California, seafood is the preferred filling: shrimp and lobster and Pacific ocean fish like mahi-mahi.

But then as you head north in to the United States, the fillings veer toward the non-traditional, although they are generally inspired by the classics.

In California and Arizona, chicken is one of the preferred fillings, whether stewed and shredded or griddle-fired. These are generally the style of tacos that you will find across the U.S.

But then when you get to Texas, that country unto itself, there is the famous “Tex Mex” take on classic Mexican food, in other words, a blend or fusion of Texan and Mexican cuisine.

The tacos above are a great example: Corn tortillas stuffed with refried beans and sliced Texas avocado, sprinkled with shredded cheese, and topped off with a generous drizzle of very, very spicy hot sauce (the way they like it in Texas: hot!).

We generally prefer serving our Colfòndo or Extra Brut with southern Californian-style tacos. The sweet and sour nature of the marinades and toppings works well with the dry wine.

But when it comes to Tex Mex, the gentle sweetness of our Extra Dry works so well with the foods.

The classic pairing for tacos like these is not beer as many would think. It’s actually sweet drinks like the Mexican rice drink horchata or sweet tea, the ubiquitous beverage of the southeastern U.S.

The Extra Dry was brilliant with the tacos above. It had just the right notes of fruit and residual sugar to work perfectly with the spiciness of the hot sauce and the richness of the beans and avocado without being overwhelmed by the flavors or overwhelming the flavors. The perfect pairing!

Champagne Method, Charmat Method, Ancestral Method: What’s the difference?

“Champagne” is still often used as a label for wines that have nothing to do with Champage or the Champagne Method.

It always amazes us how much confusion there is about how sparkling wines are made, even amongst wine educators and trade members.

Here’s a little primer.

We also recommend looking at the Wiki entry for Sparkling Wine Production.

And we also HIGHLY recommend checking out the introduction to Tom Stevenson’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine. This is the very BEST place to read up on sparkling wine production.

The over-arching element, fundamental to each of these methods for producing sparkling wine, is that when wine is fermented in a sealed environment, the CO2 created as a byproduct of fermentation creates fizziness in the wine.

Champagne Method (used on in Champagne, France), Classic Method, Traditional Method

These three terms denote the exact same method for making sparkling wine. But in accordance with EU norms, Champagne Method can only be used in reference to wines made in Champagne, France.

A base wine is made. Sugar and yeast are added to it in bottle to provoke a second fermentation. The wine is sealed in bottle and aged on its lees for an extended period. The bottle is disgorged of its sediment. It can be topped off with sugar (depending on the desired style). It is resealed and then aged before being released.

Italian wines produced using this method: Trento, Franciacorta, Oltrepò Pavese, and many others.

Charmat or Martinotti Method

A base wine is made and then is re-fermented by adding sugar and yeast in temperature-controlled, pressurized vats. It can be topped off with sugar (depending on the desired style). It is then bottled and released.

This method is used to produce wines like Prosecco, Lambrusco, and Moscato d’Asti among many others.

Ancestral Method

The wine is bottled and sealed before its first fermentation has been completed. It is released when the producer decides it has sufficiently evolved.

There are ancestral method winemakers across Italy but their numbers are relatively small. Prosecco is the only category that has emerged where this method has been applied on a larger scale. In the three townships that make up the Prosecco DOCG — Asolo, Conegliano, and Valdobbiadene — the wines produced using the ancestral method are known as Prosecco col fondo.

What does the word “perlage” mean with regard to sparkling wine?

Perlage is a word often used by Italians in describing sparkling wine.

Whenever we describe wine, we employ a literary figure known as synesthesia. It sounds like a big, fancy word but the concept is simple.

Using synesthesia, we use descriptors from one sensation to describe another.

In other words, when we say, for example, that we taste notes of strawberries in a bright Frappato from Sicily, we don’t actually mean that there are strawberries in the wine. We mean that we taste a flavor (or smell an aroma) that evokes strawberries or is reminiscent of strawberries. The same holds for almonds in Valpolicella, rose petals in Barolo, tar in Bordeaux, or salinity in our Prosecco Colfòndo to give you a few classic and canonical examples.

The first step in evaluating any wine — whether still or sparkling, dry or sweet — is to describe the wine’s appearance. How does it meet the eye?

And in the case of sparkling wine like Prosecco, we need to describe the bubbles.

Are they fine and pinpoint tiny or are they large? Are they concentrated and abundant? Or are they sparse? Do they persist and linger or do they disappear not long after the wine has been poured into the glass?

Borrowing from the French, the Italians like to use the word perlage from perle or pearl in French.

In French, the mousse, in other words, fizziness or effervescence can be referred to as perles or pearls.

Hence the word perlage or collection of pearls, a combination of perle and the suffix -age (from a linguistic point of view, the suffix denotes the gathering of “pearls”).

Why Italian have historically embraced the term perlage over mousse is not clear. But we can report that it is one of the most popular descriptors used in Italian today to describe the quality and character of fizziness.

It’s a classic example of synesthesia: We don’t actually see pearls in the wine but the bubbles we see are evocative of pearls.

Hot dog pairing for Fourth of July? Try Prosecco!

Hot dog pairings: Hot dogs are more chic than ever and they deserve the right wine pairing. This year try Prosecco at your Fourth of July celebration!

The hot dog: For as long as anyone can remember, our friends in America have been obsessed with this American classic. Not one, not two, not three, but four generations in the U.S. have grown up eating hot dogs for summer holidays. Some would say that the tradition reach back even farther, in fact.

“Billions of hot dogs will be eaten at cookouts this summer,” write the editors of the New York Times food section this week. “and serving them is one of the easiest ways we know to make people happy.”

American are so smitten with hot dogs that the Times devoted an entire column to a hot dog taste test. The New York Times, people!

But the editors also note that hot dog culture has changed drastically and radically in recent years:

“Back when hot dogs were on every list of foods to avoid — alarming additives, questionable cuts, salt and fat galore — home cooks didn’t want to know too much about what was in them. But cooks are different now, and so are hot dogs. We want to know that what we’re eating is as good as it can be. Hot dogs are made from better ingredients, with fewer additives.”

There was a time when hot dogs were one of the most unhealthy things that Americans ate on a daily basis (think Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle). But today our counterparts in the U.S. have a wide array of wholesomely ranched hot dogs and wholesomely farmed buns available to them. Hot dogs are no longer at the bottom of the food heap. In fact, they are enjoying a renaissance of sorts (again, see the Times piece).

This all raises the question of what to pair with hot dogs at that classic and favorite all-American gathering otherwise known as the Fourth of July picnic.

Beer — or should we say, craft beer — is the predictable choice. And fair enough. Like hot dogs, beer in American has evolved greatly in the last 20 years.

But the fact that beer — and its fizziness — work so well with hot dogs points us to the logical conclusion that Prosecco, with its healthy acidity and gentle effervescence, could be the perfect wine pairing for hot dogs.

Especially in the light of the fact that Prosecco has such a wonderful grapefruit/citrus note to it, is low in alcohol (great for outdoor events when you’re in the hot sun), and is arguably one of the world’s most refreshing wines, we humbly recommend that you try a Prosecco this year at your Fourth of July picnic and grill.

Whatever you are eating or drinking this Fourth, we wish all of our friends in America a HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

Fritto misto, the ultimate pairing for Prosecco Colfòndo?

Fritto misto is arguably the best pairing for Prosecco Colfòndo, write the editors of Cronache di Gusto, one of Italy’s most popular food and wine blogs. Our wine was their “wine of the week” last week!

Before you pour [Bele Casel’s Prosecco] Colfòndo in the glass, it’s good to delicately shake the bottle. Or even better, take a cue from the name written upside down on the label and turn the bottle upside down so as to allow the lees in the sediment to be mixed in with the wine.

The color that you see is rich straw yellow, with a slight cloudiness to it. The nose is intense and direct, with a wide range of white fruit aromas. There are also delightful citrus notes and tenuous hints of yeast.

The wine is fresh in the mouth, with good texture, savory and with a linger finish. And it delivers on the promises of the nose, especially when it comes to the citrus component.

The fizziness is moderate and the alcohol content is not too high (at around 11 percent). This makes the wine especially approachable and you’ll find that a bottle empties itself magically in just a few short minutes.

It’s excellent as an aperitif. In fact, once you taste it for the first time, nothing else can really take its place. It pairs great with a number of seafood dishes, like fish crudos and octopus salad. But the best pairing is probably fritto misto with mollusks and shellfish etc. In this case, the savory character and the bubbles play an important role. Something everyone should try at least once in life.

Of course, you can also pair it with all kinds of dishes depending on your own taste and imagination because it’s an extremely versatile wine. A Prosecco that manages to combine terroir, tradition, roundness, and approachability. It’s important to keep in mind that this is a living wine, in constant evolution, capable of aging over time.

Click here for the complete review. Translated here from the Italian by our blogmaster.

Caterpillar test: It’s not just earthworms that benefit from biodiversity

The number of earthworms present in the soil is often used a gauge of the “health” of a vineyard. But what about caterpillars? They are people, too!

It’s the so-called “earthworm test”: When it comes to testing and gauging the biodiversity of the soils where fine wine grapes are grown (or any crop for that matter), agronomists will often dig up a shovelful of dirt to see how many earthworms are present.

If there are none present, it is an indication that pesticides and herbicides and even fungicides may still be present. Animals struggle to survive in environments where chemicals are present and they naturally avoid them.

It can also be an indication of low or non-existent levels of nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen in the soil is key to the health of the soil and its ability to support micro-organisms, bacteria, etc. If there are no micro-organisms present in the soil, the animals won’t be attracted it: It is essentially an expression of the classic food chain. The bigger animals, in this case earthworms, depend on the smaller organisms for life.

The other day, when we saw this gorgeous caterpillar crawling along a branch, it occurred to us: Why do earthworms get all the love? After all, caterpillars are people, too!

Actually, that’s a death’s-head hawkmoth. Scary name, right? It’s actually an innocuous moth but thanks to its natural markings, it looks like it has a skull painted on it. Click this link to see what it looks like when it’s fully formed.

But it’s already really beautiful as a caterpillar. And it’s also a good sign for us and for you (that is, if you drink our wines): That biodiversity and the gauge of health of the soil mean that our wines are as wholesome as the vineyards where they are grown!