Meet Pét-Nat, Champagne's Funky Cousin
Bored with the standard bubbly?
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Move over Prosecco. Pétillant naturel—affectionately known as “pét-nat”—long an industry secret, is now coming to the forefront as the sparkling wine of the moment.
To get technical, Champagne is produced with the méthode champenoise, requiring two fermentations, the second of which takes place with added yeasts and sugars. But pét-nat uses the méthode ancestrale, or bottling the wine just before the first fermentation ends. For non-oenophiles, what does that even mean? Well, it means that the wine finishes its fermentation in the bottle and is therefore less aggressively bubbly, sometimes lower in alcohol and often gently sweet.
At Wine Geeks (www.winegeeksarmonk.com) in Armonk, co-owners Derek and Carol Todd stock Renardat-Fâche Cerdon de Bugey 2014, a semidry rosé pét-nat. “It’s a wine that we serve at our own holiday parties,” says Carol. “It’s refreshing, slightly sweet, and a little geeky, like us.” Light notes of berries and cherries make it easy drinking, but it’s also got a funky, earthy undertone that sets it apart from typical bubbly, adds Todd. At $24.99, it’s also feels like a great deal.
Vintner Eric Texier (who's also teaching pét-nat techniques to California winemakers) produces Rouletabulle Dry (Green Label), a less sweet pét-nat, available at Gambelli Wine & Spirits (www.gambelliwine.com) in White Plains. “It has a great freshness and verve, with citrus fruit, melon, minerals, and green apples,” says manager Susan Gambelli.