Alright, who likes wine with bubbles?! This week we're looking at Pet Nat!
Some readers may be quite familiar with Pet Nat, and others less so, so I'll just give a brief rundown: Petillant Naturel just means 'Naturally Sparkling' in French, and is affectionately and logically shortened to Pet Nat.
The basics are that the wine is bottled before fermentation has completely finished, so one of the by-products of fermentation, carbon dioxide (CO2), is trapped in the bottle and absorbed into the wine. You open the bottle and the CO2 escapes in the form of lovely, fun bubbles! Fun fact: the CO2 is also a natural preservative protecting the wine, so no sulphur is added to these wines.
Evidence documenting bottle fermentation of wine in France producing bubbles exists as early as the 1500's, but it seems likely that Pet Nat has been around in some form for a millennia or two (or longer). There are a number of producers both internationally and in Australia who have been producing more of these wines in recent years, forming a kind of wave of Pet Nat-ness that has swept across the globe. Some of the Pet Nats I've been digging recently are those from Scintilla Wines (out of the Adelaide Hills). I asked winemaker James Madden of Scintilla a little about Pet Nat and some other things he's been enjoying recently:
What do you like most about Pet Nat?
What I like about it most is when done well it is a frivolous and bright expression of wine produced soon after harvest. A nouveau sparkling if you will. For a time and a place it can be some of the most satisfying and delicious wine to consume. Our Pet Nat Flo’s Fizz is named after our eldest daughter. Not unlike Flo, the goal with our Pet Nat is something loud and a bit wild. Fruity, loads of acid and something that makes you smile.
What wine (or other) have you been enjoying recently?
Well I drink a hell of a lot of local wine as I work and live in one of the most free thinking and progressive wine regions in the world. So why wouldn’t I? Talking Pet Nat, Alex from The Other Right makes for me the best Pet Nat in Australia and I have had the privilege of working with him the past 5 vintages. I cracked a 2021 Bright Young Thing Pink the other day and it was killer! James from Jauma makes some wildly expressive Grenache that is the total opposite. Layered, complex and savoury. My go to if out and about is something from the Jura, maybe something slightly oxidative. In saying that I had a 2019 Alice and Olivier de Moor Chablis ‘l’Humeur du Temps’ Chardonnay recently and was blown away. Rich and textured but crunchy mineral acidity for days. Outstanding.
What music have you been enjoying recently?
Well I love my vinyl and for Christmas I bought an old reconditioned Marantz for the house and my old player ended up in the winery. Music is a staple in our house and I have an eclectic collection. Everything from Aussie rock to Cuban jazz. Local Adelaide band Bad Dreems always help us get through some tough days “Doomsday Ballet” is a banger, put it on and turn it up!. They are the modern day Cold Chisel in a way. I love soul music immensely and to my partner Sam’s disdain Hip Hop! I have been delving deep in the MF Doom collection lately with his first LP “Operation: Doomsday” one of my favourites.
Flo's Fizz Forever Young
Flo's Fizz Pet Nat (A lovely fresh, zingy, lemon rind, marmalade number with a savoury bready character from the time on lees) that James mentioned above is made from Mclaren Vale Verdelho and Barossa Chardonnay.
Scintilla produces another Pet Nat too: Forever Young is a Multi-Vintage sparkling wine, with 20% being from a 4 year solera, 40% 2020 Verdelho and 40% 2020 Chardonnay. The aged wine adds another layer of complexity to this smooth, creamy sparkling Pet Nat, which also displays lovely notes crisp apple and chamomile. Definitely some to try whether you're into this style, or if you're new to the world of Pet Nat!
That's it for this bubbled-up edition, Juiceheads... next time we'll be looking at... well, you'll just have to wait and see ;) xx