This lightly sparkling natural wine has been popping up on drinks lists all over the show, and it’s not going away any time soon.
Pét-nats are kind of a big deal right now. It may be tempting to dismiss this as some flash-in-the-pan fad – and granted, the vibrant labels and crown bottle caps that characterise many of these wines definitely appeal to the, er, young-urban-liberal drinker – but, as with many seemingly hot new trends, pét-nat wines have actually been round for yonks.
To be considered a pét-nat (it stands for pétillant naturel, which is French for “natural sparkling”), a wine must be made following what’s known as the méthode ancestrale, which means the wine is bottled before primary fermentation is finished.
With méthode traditionnelle (also known as méthode champenoise), by which Champagnes and most good sparkling wines are made, additional yeasts and sugar are added and the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle. Méthode ancestrale, on the other hand, relies on the natural sugars found in the grapes to produce carbon dioxide and, therefore, fizz.
It’s an unpredictable process, so what you end up with can be a real mixed bag, but pét-nats are generally a more rustic affair than your usual bubbly – cloudy, lightly fizzy, fruity and often a little funky. The best ones are bright, light, fresh and fruity – just the ticket for the balmy days and nights that stretch out ahead of us.
Here’s a selection of some poppin’ pét-nats to try this summer.
Cambridge Road Naturalist 2018
Naturalist is kind of the OG New Zealand pét-nat, the one that introduced many of this country’s pét-nat fans to the variety. Made by Martinborough vineyard Cambridge Road, this year’s vintage is based around riesling and pinot gris, with smaller amounts of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. With stonefruit and citrus flavours, it’s super fresh and bright, very drinkable and relatively widely available (check out Vino Fino, Cult Wine and Caro’s – it’s priced from $28-$35).
Moana Park 2018 Pet-Nat
This 100% chardonnay number from Hawke’s Bay is a great option for the pét-nat newbie. It’s peachy, creamy and super accessible, both flavour-wise and price-wise. You can get it from Cult Wine for $25.
Tincan Persuasive Pet-Nat 2017
This drop from Nelson natural winery Tincan is skin-fermented (which means the grape skins are not removed), giving it a lovely orange hue. Made primarily from sauvignon blanc, it’s fresh and fragrant, with a light bitterness and acidity. You can get it from the Tincan website and Caro’s for $31-$33.
Lucy M. Blanc de Noir Pét-Nat 2016
This is a 100% pinot noir number, but was whole-bunch pressed quickly enough for the skins not to impart any colour. Made in South Australia, it’s citrussy and refreshing, and there are a few whole grapes in the bottle for good measure. It’s $40 from Wine Diamonds.
Black Estate Home Pét-Nat 2018
Black Estate is a lovely organic winery in Waipara, north Canterbury, whose 100% chenin blanc Home Pét-Nat is a delight. You can get it from Vino Fino and Cult Wine for $37-$45 (Cult Wine also does a three pack with two other Black Estate pet-nats for $110).