Pét Nat, pet who? Not “who,” what! Pétillant-naturel, or natural sparkling, is a term for sparkling wine made in the ancient method of winemaking, notably, bottling wine before the first fermentation is complete. Believe it or not, this is not some new craze, but rather a resurgence of the old style of sparkling wines. Think of Pet Nat as nothing added – clean and pure so to speak. This has resonated greatly with foodie and “all natural” connoisseurs. Most other sparkling wines, often made in the Methode Champenoise style, go through a second fermentation with the addition of yeasts and sugars.
Consider Pétillant-naturel the weathered, and slightly ruff-around-the-edges, grandfather to the Champagne method. Pét Nat sparklers are most of the time unfiltered, and therefore a touch cloudy. Don’t let that cloudy “naturalness” scare you.
Many are often bottled with a cap, like you find on beer, as opposed to the more ubiquitous cork. Pét Nats also cross the color spectrum, made in white, rosé, and red styles. They are great for almost any occasion, food and company. These quirky sparklers are a mixed bag of sorts, ranging from soft effervescence, to poignant, zippy bubbles. Yet always a treat.
This resurgence is not as old as the method itself, but, it has been thrown around the wine world for the past two decades or so. Loire Valley vineyards had (Re-)adopted the ancient practice and began calling their sparkling wines Pét Nat in order to begin the newest retro-trend, striking it big, not only domestically, but also internationally. It wasn’t long before word of this old-style method spread from Northern Italy to California. Now many are going “ga ga” over Pétillant-naturel, making its way back into the spotlight. New York wineries, French vintners, and Oregon winemakers are regularly pumping out these classically delicious sparkling wines.
Without toting a big bucks price tag, these are most of the time under $30, which often can show as much character as ones at double the price. Certainly a new, old wine to put on your list! Here are some that we currently have in house at The Savory Grape.