Is Pet Nat all that?

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Pet Nat is short for Pétillant Naturel, which translates to “naturally sparkling” in English. Apparently, this is the latest trend in the natural wine movement but with a sparkling twist! Ready to jump on the bandwagon, I eagerly headed to my local wine shop, Bottle Apostle, and embarked on an enlightening Pet Nat tasting experience.

Upon arrival, a line up of the evening’s Pet Nats, as well as a list of the evening’s tasting flight awaited me.

Prior to beginning the tasting, our guides (Amedeo and Katia) provided us with some background information about Pet Nat and how it differs from other sparkling wines, such as those made in the Champenoise method. Pet Nat wines are created using natural winemaking processes, also known as method ancestral from either biodynamic or organic grapes…hence the ‘naturel’ part. The ‘petillant’ part comes into play when the wine is bottled before the primary fermentation has finished and any remaining yeast and residual sugars continue to ferment in the bottle, thus resulting in trapped carbon dioxide…the bubbles!! Pet Nat wines are unregulated and offer a variety of flavors (some good, some questionable…), thus the allure because you never quite know what awaits when you pop the cork…oh, sorry, another difference…most Pet Nat wines are topped off with a bottle cap, not a cork.

Unlike sparkling wines made using the Champenoise method, where a secondary fermentation takes place with additional yeasts and sugars being added, Pet Nat wines are unfiltered and rather cloudy because they are bottled with the original lees (remaining yeast and residual sugars) from the initial fermentation. Additionally, Pet Nat’s tend to have lower abv (alcohol by volume) because they don’t go through a secondary fermention with added yeasts and sugars, which increase the ABV level.

My first stop on this Pet Nat journey was a enjoying a glass of Casa Coste Piane Frizzante Naturalmente Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Conegliano Veneto, Italy (11% alcohol) made from non-certified glera grapes (the most common variety used in Prosecco production). The color was very light, or platinum as is commonly described. Floral aromas greeted my nose while hints of lemon and salty notes tantalized my palate. A burst of tiny, bright bubbles danced in my mouth, followed by a bright, yet balanced acidity and finished with a subtlly bitter note (very slight but noticeable). Personally, I enjoyed this glass, but didn’t fancy buying a bottle because nothing really stood out for me. However, this would prove to be a rather easy drinking Prosecco with a wide variety of pairing options.

My second tasting was the Vouvrey Petillant Brut Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau, from the Loire Valley, France (12.5% alcohol) made from biodynamically sourced Chenin Blanc grapes. The wine itself was light yellow in color. Floral and honey notes were detected, while honey and pear flavors gently developed on the palate. A subtle but lasting effervescence paired with a long, dry well-balanced finish made for an enjoyable tasting. I would recommend pairing this Pet Nat with a strong goats cheese such as Chevre.

My third glass was filled with Kindeli Riesling, from the Upper Moutere, New Zealand (12% alcohol) made from organically grown Reisling grapes. I was suprised with the light orange color an it was slightly cloudy! This was the first orange wine I have tasted, which was redefining for my senses. I am definitely someone who relies heavily on my visual receptors. I think that it would have been beneficial for me to taste this wine without seeing the color. I often wonder how much the color and clarity of a wine influence my palate, despite all efforts to be unbiased. Aromas of honey and earthy notes wafted my way. Dried apricot and slight petrol notes proceeded an almost beer-like finish with understated yeast notes. This Pet Nat reminded me more of a beer and I could see myself enjoying it on a hot summer afternoon with BBQ food.

My fourth taste was a Pitt Nat Rosé Conversion Rosé Gerhard Pittnauer, Burgenland, Austria (10.5% alcohol) made from biodynamically grown Blaufrankisch, Merlot and Syrah. The deep salmon pink colour with some cloudiness intrigued me. Additionally, bubble danced on top the surface of the wine. Aromas of strawberry followed by flavors of citrus with heavy grapefruit notes and bitter orange peel were a pleasant surprice. A subtle effervence led to a well balanced finished with subtle effervescence. I highly recommend this Pet Nat because it offers just that little bit more and I would recommend pairing this with salmon dishes.

Next on my tasting journey was a glass of the 3B Rose Extra Bruto, Filipa Pato, from Beiras, Portugal (12.5%) sourced with conventionally grown red Baga and white Bical grapes. A soft pink color alongside aromas of citrus and berry notes were intriguing. An explosion of bubbles upfront proceeded flavours of subtle summer fruits. The finish wasn’t as expressive as the initial burst of bubbles, which was disappointing. I would serve this with any occasion that calls for pink bubbly.

Finally, I awaited a glass of Heavy Petting, Tim Wildman, from South Australia (10% alcohol) sourced from conventionally grown Zibibbo and Nero D’Avola grapes. A red color was a welcomed change after having had so many lighter colored wines. Aromas of red berries and faint licorice notes could be detected. An expressive effervescent finish filled with red cherry and some hints of plum greeted my palate. This wine would probably best be paired with summer BBQ grilled such as ribs.

The Vigneview…

I have to admit that I really enjoyed my evening exploring Pet Nat wines. The selections were high quality, diverse and palate provoking. I love niche wines and these definitely ticked the box. However, the one that tickled my palate the most was the Pitt Nat Rosé. I found it to be the most expressive and well balanced. Additionally, I love anything with a citrus note, especially grapefruit, which I don’t often come across in many wines. So, I took home a bottle and shared it with my husband who is now a fan, while enjoying freshly made salmon cakes…not bad for an evening dining in!

All in all, I think that Pet Nat’s definitely all that!!