What is this term, pet nat, appearing on crown-sealed bottles of cloudy fizz? It’s shorthand for the French pétillant naturel, or ‘sparkling natural’. Sure pet nats are one of the latest things in the world of natural wine … but then everything old is new again, and these are made by the simplest and oldest Method for making bubbly wine, méthode ancestrale, which was around long before the monks of Champagne perfected their technique (méthode traditionnelle). Whereas Champagne is made from fully fermented still wine with yeast and sugar added to the bottle to create a secondary fermentation, pet nats finish their first (and only) fermentation in the bottle, using the natural sugars in the grape juice and usually the yeasts that occur naturally on the skins. The complex flavours are best appreciated in a normal wine glass or tumbler, not a flute, and I find they still taste great a day or two after opening, as it’s less about the fizz than the flavour.
Smidge Wines Pedra Branca Adelaide Hills (SA)
Winemaker Matt Wenk sources fruit he loves from various South Australian regions to make distinctive small batch wines. His cloudy white pet nat is 100% sauv blanc from my favourite Aussie region for this variety. The floral nose leads into a mouth-filling savoury palate.
Delinquente Wine Co. Tuff Nutt Riverland (SA)
This cloudy, almost yellow, wine is made from bianco d’Alessano, a rare southern Italian varietal. It smells of tropical pineapple, lychee and melon balanced with good acidity and a savoury, minerally finish. At just 9% alcohol it’s a great picnic wine.
Sutton Grange Fairbank Ancestrale Bendigo (VIC)
Sutton Grange was one of the first to release a pet nat onto the Aussie market. Their Ancestrale is a pale orange-pink blend of shiraz and viognier aged on lees then lightly disgorged, so quite clear. Roses and red berries lead to a long, dry, savoury finish.
Delinquente Wine Co. Weeping Juan Riverland (SA)
This cloudy muted-orange-pink wine is made from organic white vermentino with a splash of still-fermenting red lagrein added just before bottling. Wild yeasts give it a funkiness you’ll either love or hate, a dry textural finish and gentle fizz.
Ancre Hill Triomphe Wales (UK)
Red pet nat is rare but worth finding – this great example is made in Wales from triomphe d’Alsace. Fully fermented last vintage wine is bottled with still-fermenting new vintage juice to create a floral funky wine with gentle spritz. Try The Other Right for an Aussie version.
Updated 4 Jan 2020