As wine lovers become more and more savvy across the world and wine appreciation continues to grow on a global scale, we see more and more categories of wine emerge on the scene. A few of them are genuinely new. But of them draw from ancient winemaking methods. What’s new about them is that people are discovering them for the first time.
In the sparkling wine spectrum, one such category is pétillant-naturel or pet nat as it is affectionately known in English-speaking countries.
The French term pétillant, which means bubbling or sparkling, comes from pétiller, which means to bubble or to sparkle (it actually comes from the Latin pedo which means, ahem, to break wind).
The term naturel means natural.
And so a wine that is pétillant-naturel is a naturally sparkling wine.
The thing that sets pet nat wines apart from other sparkling categories and methods is that it is bottled before fermentation is complete. As the fermentation completes in the pressurized environment of the bottle, the naturally produced CO2 is captured in the bottle, thus making the wine sparkle.
For Charmat method wines, classic method wines, and col fondo method wines, a base wine is made and after its fermentation is completed, it is either transferred to a pressurized tank (Charmat method) or a bottle for a second fermentation (classic method and col fondo method).
Pet-nat wines are, for the most part, very gently sparkling (equivalent to vivace or frizzante in Italian).
And they represent a very early form of sparkling wine production.
They are also almost always cloudy because they are not disgorged of their sediment before being released.
Many natural winemaker produce pet-net wines and the hipster crowd loves to consume them.
It’s important to note that col fondo wines are not pet nat because the base wines for col fondo wines are completely fermented before being bottled and the second fermentation is carried out in the bottle.