What does “méthode ancienne” mean on a bottle of wine?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

What does “méthode ancienne” mean on a bottle of wine?

—Christopher, San Francisco, Calif.

Dear Christopher,

Méthode ancienne” is French for “ancient method,” and it refers to winemaking techniques and philosophies established centuries ago in France's Burgundy region. (It's also known as "the Burgundian method.")

“Ancient” or “Burgundian” methods are techniques that are prized by winemakers not only because Burgundy-style wines can be wonderful, but because the techniques suggest that the wines were made in small batches and with plenty of hands-on work. There’s no legal definition for "ancient" or "Burgundian method," but when a winemaker invokes those terms, they're trying to convey that the wines were barrel fermented with lees aging, punch-downs and malolactic conversion, and possibly bottled unfiltered.

These techniques can also carry higher winemaking costs, which can be expected to be passed along to the consumer as well.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny Winemaking Techniques Explained Chardonnay Pinot Noir Burgundy France

More In Dr. Vinny

How do wineries pick the glass color for their wine bottles?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny why some wine bottles are tinted green or amber, while …

Jun 7, 2021

When and how does "palate fatigue" kick in at a wine tasting?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the term "palate fatigue," and what happens to …

May 31, 2021

Does appellation-specific wine have to be labeled with a vintage?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny gets an assist from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade …

May 24, 2021

Do vacuum pumps work for saving leftover wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why not all wine-preservation methods are equal.

May 17, 2021

Short-term, is it OK to store wine at room temperature?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert, Dr. Vinny, offers tips on how to keep wine at its …

May 10, 2021

Can I ask a restaurant to store my own bottle of wine there for a few weeks before I come in to drink it?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice for corkage and BYOB etiquette.

May 3, 2021