Petillant Naturel (AKA Pet Nat, AKA Method Ancestral) is a wine style that has exploded in popularity over the last few years.
For those uninitiated, Pet Nat is an ancient form of Sparkling wine which harnesses the natural gases produced during fermentation to produce lightly (or sometimes very) spritzy wines packed with personality.
Petillant Naturel wines pre-date the famous Sparkling wines of Champagne. Where Champagne becomes bubbly from a secondary ferment inside the bottle, a Pet Nat is made fizzy by bottling the wine before the primary ferment is complete.
During the primary ferment, as the yeast eats the sugar in the grape juice that creates the alcohol in wine, they produce carbon dioxide as a by-product. When you bottle that juice and trap the gas, that's what makes Pet Nats fizzy.
It's a difficult thing to get a Pet Nat right. Timing is everything. Some become extremely volatile and explosive if bottled with too much pressure, some become more of a 'Flat Nat' or a 'Pet Not' if bottled with not enough.
And as they are bottled without any preservatives, the potential for these wines to go sideways in the bottle is always a risk.
There are many examples of these wines to explore across Australia but currently there a few producers who stand out from the pack with regards to quality.
Below is a list of producers who have got the dark art of Petillant Naturel nailed. If you're looking to explore these exotic sparkling delights, these Pet Nat Pros are the very best examples we have come across.
Check them out!
Winemaker AJ Hoadley took the Pet Nat game very seriously in 2018. He produced no fewer than FIVE Pet Nats last vintage. We have four of them available in all colours of the rainbow. There's everything from Riesling to Cabernet Franc in fizz form from AJ. They are absolutely wicked drinking - each one more delicious than the last. They are made in minuscule quantities, as little as 20 dozen at a time.
Brave New Wine
Yoko and Andries at Brave New Wine have honed their Pet Nat production since their first release in 2015. Their two releases in 2018 were excellent. Their Glitter Us Pet Nat has been our most popular Pet Nat this Summer. BNW put a lot of time and care into crafting their crafty fizz. The Giltter Us is made predominantly from Vermentino with a splash of a few other bits and pieces thrown in. Each bottle is hand disgorged making it clean and crisp and brilliant to drink.
Wildman Wines is the wild creation of notable UK Master of Wine, Tim Wildman. Each year Tim makes the pilgrimage from the UK to South Australia to pursue his bespoke Pet Nat project. It's a labour of love for Tim. Each berry is hand harvested, each bottle expertly bottled by hand. He makes two Pet Nats each year, the Astro Bunny (a cosmic blend of Vermentino, Nero d'Avola and Zibbibo) and the Heavy Petting (Nero d'Avola and a splash of Zibbibo). It's a project which gives him great delight and the wines are packed with as much charisma and personality as their maker.
Bryan Martin at Ravensworth Wines in Murrumbateman has just the kind of fastidious approach to winemaking that allows for a more serious style of Pet Nat as opposed the easy-going picnic wines that are most common in the Aussie Pet Nat world. His Riesling Ancestral has become something of a benchmark for a more complex style of Pet Nat. He ferments this wine wild in a concrete egg before hand-bottling. It's something like a cross between a wild farmhouse cider and a more serious classical Sparkling. The 2018 is an excellent release.
Winemaker Jo Perry at Dormilona has a more hands-off approach than most in the Margaret River region. Her elegant and original takes on Margaret River wine are garnering plenty of attention. Her Pet Nat is raised in a terracotta amphora before going to bottle. The Clayface Pet Nat is a wild and wonderful expression of Chenin Blanc from the West. Think honeyed granny smith apples with a grapefruit zing.
Paul Starr and Sassafras Wines in Canberra was the first to make a Pet Nat rated 96 points in the James Halliday Wine Companion - no mean feat considering the relative infancy of the style! He makes a white fizz from a blend of Savagnin and Chardonnay, and a Rosé style from Shiraz and Sagrantino grapes. His 2018 releases are absolutely cracking, combining complexity with freshness and a touch of class.
To check out our complete collection of Petillant Naturel, click here. And go forth and explore these fun fizzy wines - they are some of the most exciting emerging wines in the country.