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.
“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.