The new-old kid on the block.
This style of wine-making has so many names, including Mèthod ancestrale its difficult to keep up. We will stick with one to avoid confusion: Pètillant Naturel.
Fun fact 1: Pètillant Naturel (pèt nat) is the oldest method of making sparkling wine, pre dating mèthod champenoise and going way to the days of Michelangelo and King Henry VIII. So why up till now has it been so hard to find? You can pop to your local supermarket and find all kinds of sparkling juice; champagne, cava, prosecco etc but no pèt nats in sight!
Fun fact 2: Pètillant nautrel translates to natural sparkling. You’ll see why in a bit. This natural sparkle is more of a light bubble compared to Champagne or others.
Ok, fun facts aside, this method is making a comeback alongside those natural wines, which makes sense as pèt nat is very similar especially of you can find the unfiltered ones. What sets it aside from Champagne is the wine does not undergo a second fermentation. It is becoming a firm favourite of sommaliers and wine lovers around the world, and is undergoing something of a revival. Often described as a fun wine, this light sparkler is most often talked about as tasting grapey and ranging from dry to sweet with a light fizzy mouthfeel.
There is a level of skill required to make pèt nat, just because there are less steps than the Champagne process, does not make it less volitile. This is because you have less control, there are less processes so you have less input as a wine maker. The end result is a raw, natural, rustic and interesting wine often very reflective of its terrior.
We know the basics of Champagne making, finished wine that has undergone is first fermentation is bottled with yeast and sugar and left to ferment in the bottle for a second time, creating millions of tiny bubbles. The Champagne then undergoes further ageing on its lees to develop those brioche and toast flavours, after which it is disgorged, and then makes it way to your glass.
With Pèt nat, there is a slightly different process. Wines are bottled before they have finished their first fermentation, which then continues in the bottle. This finishing in the bottle is what produces a light sparkle. For filtered pèt nat the process is the same, only it is disgorged before it reaches you.
More and more winemakers are experimenting with this style of sparkling wine, and it it worth getting your mittens on if you can find it. GlouGlou wine bar in Amsterdam is serving up plenty of Pèt nats for you to try, and if you love it you can also buy a bottle to take home with you.