What the bubbles is Pet Nat?

English Pet Nat from Davenport (Photo credit: Will Davenport)

A Pet Nat (short for pétillant naturel) is a sparkling wine from a single vintage that undergoes a single fermentation. The wine ferments with its own yeast in tank or barrel and is transferred to bottle before the process is completed (with latent sugar). The fermentation continues without addition of yeasts, enzymes or sugar until it finishes. The wine is then usually disgorged off its solids and topped up with the same wine. There is no dosage, no other filtration, no sulphur addition.

This method is also known as the ancestral method. It differs from methode champenoise in that the latter undergoes a secondary fermentation with the addition of a liqueur and normally requires a lengthy period of ageing on the lees.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the moment anyone even mentions the words “summer” and “rosé” in the same sentence then the heavens inevitably open and decant merrily on this hubris.

Ne’ertheless. This is the time when the last grams of sugar have been duly converted and the first Pet Nats begin to buzz out of the wineries.

One of the reasons we love to drink these wines is because they are made with good ripe fruit rather than relying on the autolytic converter of time to make them palatable. Almost invariably from organically farmed, hand-harvested fruit, the wines are not too fizzy either, being more on the frizzante side with little pearls of sparkle. There’s no dosage, so there’s none of that champenois style sweet-sour aftertaste. Pet Nats are often light in alcohol, and because there is low or zero-added sulphur added, you’re more portable the next day. They’re also just plain fun, with cute labels and crown caps and a massive glug factor. We love ‘em.

For those seeking the bubble reputation even in the canon’s mouth (the canon being a wine glass in this case), we’d be pleased as punch – er, fizz – to give you a rundown of what’s popping in our fizzical pipeline.

Maupertuis Pink Bulles

This Auvergnat (pun intended) hails from the bullseye of France, where the Loire bubbles up, so to speak. All grapes lead to Gamay here, and this is a pale, pert frothsome pink with nice freshness and a touch of residual sugar. We fondly recall the 09 version of this wine which triple fermented in the winery. It had extreme vulcanicity.

Moussamoussettes, Domaine Mosse

On joue with this particular party-popper liquid space-dusty Anjou. Composed of Grolleau Gris, Gamay and Cabernet Franc – really crackling with frivolous freshness, fun from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Drink with extreme prejudice. Arriving shortly.

Camillo Donati

Another grower who sports a “nat” in his name! It is unusual that a vigneron will only make sparkling wines but Camillo Donati crafts gloriously vinous natural wines (ancestral method) from his steeply sloped biodynamic vineyards in Emilia Romagna. The wines are cloudy and wholesome with plenty of structure. We love the aromatic

is a foodie wine as is the Trebbiano, one which elevates that maligned grape to a whole other level.

La Garagista Grace and Favour Pet Nat

La Garagista is a tiny Alpine farm in Vermont where Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber make wines from hybrids – in this case the La Crescent variety. The name Grace & Favour is inspired by Hampton Court. (La Crescent is descendent from Muscat d’Ambourg, also known as Black Hambourg”. Deirdre writes: “The Great Vine at Hampton Court is Black Hambourg. “Caleb and I made a pilgrimage to pay our respects to the Vine and whilst there read some of the history of Hampton Court. After Richelieu took over the palace from Henry the 8th, the apartments in the palace were given to ladies in waiting and chevaliers in “grace and favour”. We thought this was a perfect nod to La Crescent’s parentage”.

The wine has a beautiful golden yellow colour and enchanting aromas of pollen, clover, red apples and grapes with naturally mouth-cleansing acidity.

Fuchs und Hase

(Fox and Hare) is a label devoted exclusively to Pet Nat and is a joint enterprise between young Kamptal growers Martin Arndorfer and Alwin Jurtschitch. The wines are fermented on their skins, invariably unfiltered and thus turbid and quite spicy in the mouth. The Fuchs und Hase pets are labelled Vol 1 to 5 and are blends of Gruner with various local grapes. The greater the volume, the bigger the mouthfeel of the wine -natch!

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