What is Pet-Nat?
“Pet-Nat” or “Petillant Naturel” is one of the oldest forms of champagne making. Originally discovered in France, the French accidentally came across this style of winemaking when some of their still wine would naturally re-ferment in the bottle causing the wine to become carbonated.
Once discovered, the French winemakers realized that they could use this method to have a sparkling wine that could be made quickly at the beginning of harvest, and be ready to drink the same year to celebrate the end of the harvest season. After a hard harvest season, and once the wine is put in barrels to age, it’s time to party, and this style of refreshing, fruity, bubbly wine is perfect for the occasion.
With the rise of the natural wine movement, producers rediscovered this “Methode Ancestrale”, and began making Pet-Nats with intention. They are usually entirely handmade in small quantities by small boutique wine producers, and they usually are very expressive with big fruit forward aromas and flavors. These delicious bubbles are an informal, unpretentious sparkling wine that is just starting to catch on with the general public.
How is it made?
Pet-Nat’s are typically made from white grapes or red grapes in a rosé style that are picked early in the season to ensure good acidity in the final wine. The grapes are typically pressed off the skins immediately and naturally fermented in cold stainless steel tanks. Typically Pet-Nats are fermented with the native yeasts from the vineyard to help bring out more complexity and uniqueness to the wine. Once the yeasts consume most of the sugar, the wine is bottled and capped. The fermentation then finishes in the bottle producing the natural carbonation. The remaining yeast in the bottle, then settles to the bottom of the bottle and is called “lees”. This remains in the bottle as it is unfiltered and gives a slight hazy appearance to the wine.
Don't be alarmed by sediment in the bottom of the bottle or a hazy appearance. There is no harm in this. They are even beneficial after creating the bubbles, by helping to improve the flavor and texture of the wine over time, and act as an antioxidant.
Because this uncontrolled style of winemaking uses native yeasts, things can be unpredictable, and it takes a skilled winemaker to shepherd the wine into the bottle with just the right level of carbonation and the right flavors and aromatics to make a delicious sparkling wine.
How to store and serve your Pet-Nat?
Because of the sediment in the bottle, you want to keep the bottle standing upright so that the sediment settles to the bottom. Put in the refrigerator to chill a few hours before serving, and serve as cold as possible. Open quickly as most Pet-Nats have lots of bubbles that can spill over. Use a continuous pour into several glasses or into a decanter so as to not kick up the lees at the bottom of the bottle. Stop pouring when you start to see a little sediment pouring. Leave the lees in the bottle.
- Store up right
- Do NOT shake up (sediment in the bottom is ok)
- Chill before serving. Put in refrigerator the day before
- Open quickly and pour immediately
- Pour 2 full glasses
- Sometimes it helps to open over a clean bowl to save any overflow
- Leave the sediment in the bottom of the bottle
Our First Pet-Nat
Sandy Road Vineyards 2020 Estate Petillant Naturel
In 2020, we released our first Petnat. This sparkling wine was produced from Prieto Picudo grapes from our estate in the Texas Hill Country just outside of Hye, TX. As far as we know, we are the first in the United States to plant and make wine using this grape.
Prieto Picudo is a red Spanish grape that is tightly clustered with bluish-black skin that delivers deeply colored wines with clean acidity, high sugars, and tannins. It's flavor and aroma is sweet and intense. Apparently it’s color is so intense, that even though we hand harvested and pressed these grapes immediately, we still got a very deep color in the Pet-Nat. The cold, low Oxygen environment produced amazing fruit aromas of raspberry, banana and bubble gum (Big Red), and flavors of raspberry and pineapple. It is similar in style to other natively fermented carbonic Beaujolais light red wines.
That first Petnat is all sold out, but you can order our current vintage on our website if it's available. We only produce a very small number of cases and most will go to our Wine Club and be sold in tastings at the vineyard. If you are interested in discovering something new and exciting, order yours online here today before we sell out.