If you are a fan of Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava, then Pétillant-Naturel should be on your bubbly radar. What is pétillant-naturel? It is french, pétillant means slightly sparkling and naturel for minimal winemaking intervention, often shortened to “pét-nat.” Pét-Nat is not a style of wine, but a method of winemaking. The term pét-nat originated with winemakers in the Loire Valley in 1990. The wine has become extremely trendy, and that trend is growing with winemakers around the globe. After tasting and pairing my first pét-nats, I know what all the hype is about. These wines are natural, pure, fresh, and expressive of their grape varieties and terroir.
Join the Wine Pairing Weekend group of bloggers as we taste and pair pét-nat and convene on Twitter Saturday, December 14th at 11:00 AM ET, to compare notes and chat about all things pét-nat. Follow the Twitter chat using hashtag #winepw. Don’t miss more posts by the Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers at the bottom of this post.
Fast Facts About Pét-Nat
Pét-nat is made using the Méthode Ancestrale, a method to produce sparkling wine. This method takes partially fermented grape juice and bottles it as the first, and only fermentation continues in the bottle. Carbon dioxide is trapped in the bottle producing bubbles for sparkling wine. Champagne, on the other hand, is made using the Methode Traditionelle. This method starts with blended still wine, adds sugar and yeast to the bottled wine for a second fermentation.
Pét-nat’s can be produced with any grape variety, anywhere in the world. However, French AOC’s that produce Pétillant Originel wines must adhere to regulations that can govern the production method. (Historical Méthode Ancestral vs. a Modern variation)
Pét-nat’s can range from dry, crisp, and tart, to yeasty, sweet, and fruity.
Disgorging is optional, resulting in either a cloudy or clear wine.
Compared to Champagne, pét-nat usually has softer bubbles, lower pressure, and more aromatics when first opened.
Pét-nats are typically closed with a crown cap whereas French Pétillant Originel wines often use a cork and cage closure.
My Tasting Notes
Francois et Julien Pinon Pétillant naturel brut, Loire Valley France
12.5% abv | wine.com $29.99 | 50% Côt (Malbec) 50% Grolleau
Francois Pinon is one of the top producers in the Vouvray appellation. The grapes used to make this méthode ancestrale rosé come from one hectare of vineyards of red grape varieties on the domaine planted by Francois’s father. It is common for domaines in Vouvray to plant a small amount of red grapes to make red and rosé wines for the family and to serve the workers at harvest time.
The vineyards are organically farmed with soils composed of clay and flint over limestone bedrock. The grapes are hand- harvested and then fermented for two weeks in vats with indigenous yeasts and no added sulfites. The wine is bottled and continues fermenting for about two weeks. The bottles are disgorged in April after the harvest, no dosage is added. Bottle closure: cork with cage.
Medium salmon with a pink hue in color and clear. Medium body and acidity. A bright, crisp wine with aromas of red summer fruit. On the palate raspberry, red currants, and notes of minerals. Dry with a creamy textured mid-palate and finishing with a slight bitterness.
Weingut am Stein, Pure & Naked Pét-Nat Brut, Franconia Germany
12% abv| 20 Euros | Cabernet Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc
Weingut am Stein is located in the city of Würzburg in the German region of Franconia. The winery is owned by Ludwig Knoll and his wife, Sandra. It was established in 1980 by Ludwig’s father when he planted his vineyards on Franconia’s most prized slopes, Würzburger Stein. The estate is organically farmed and practices biodynamic principles. Bottle closure: crown cap.
Medium yellow in color and cloudy with sediment. Medium(-) body with medium(+) acidity. A fresh, crisp wine with aromas of yeast, citrus, and floral. On the palate, tangy green apple, lemon, elderflower, mint, and a note of minerality.
My Food Pairings
Pét-nats are often described as having characteristics of Champagne, beer (think German wheat beer with the yeast sediment), and hard cider. When I chose my pairings, I took into consideration the different elements of Champagne, beer, and cider that I may detect in the pèt-nats.
I started my pét nat food pairings with a charcuterie board, offering a variety of flavors and textures. Mt Tam triple crème cheese, Midnight Moon (a mature gouda style goat cheese), a Normandy Camembert, cured boar sausage, prosciutto, cranberry hazelnut crackers, petit toasts, pistachios, raspberry vinegar pickled onions, apples, and pomegranate seeds. The triple crème cheese is a classic pairing with bubbles, countering the richness of the cheese. Those same bubbles balance the saltiness in the cheese, nuts, and sausage. The raspberry vinegar pickled onions echoed the acidity in both pet-nats and the fruity notes in the Francois Pinon. The apples and pomegranate seeds offered a texture contrast while matching similar flavors found on the wines.
I also paired a truffle herb risotto with the Pure and Naked pét-nat. The creamy, rich truffle butter and cheese in the risotto were balanced with the acidity and bubbles in the wine. The rustic character of the wine matched the earthy truffles and herbs in the risotto.
Raspberry Vinegar Pickled Onions
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- kosher salt
- 1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
- In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Add the onions and season with salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cook, and stir occasionally until the onions are very soft but not taking on any color, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add the vinegar and continue to cook, stirring, until the onions break down to a jammy consistency, about another 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Let cool. Onions can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.
Truffle Herb Risotto
- 4 tablespoons truffle butter
- 1 small shallot
- 4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, minced
- 1 small sprig fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 cup high-quality risotto rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- kosher salt
- 3-4 cups boiling water
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Melt 2 tablespoons of truffle butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and herbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are just soft and beginning to take on color, about 4 minutes.
- Add the rice and cook until it turns opaque and starts to make a slight popping sound, about 1-2 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until the wine is almost evaporated.
- Add a pinch of salt and one cup of the boiling water. Stir continuously until all the water is evaporated. Repeat process with a second cup of water, once the water is evaporated, add the third cup of water. Cook stirring until almost all the water is evaporated. Taste the rice for doneness - it should have just a little firmness. If it is undercooked, stir in a 1/4 cup of water.
- When the rice is just the right tenderness, about 20 minutes of total cooking time, remove from heat and stir in the remaining two tablespoons of truffle butter and cheese.
More great posts on Pét-Nat from the Wine Pairing Weekend group of bloggers~
Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen explores “Pet Nat Food Pairings Made Easy with Gilbert Wines”
Linda from My Full Wine Glass shares “A Fresh, Fruity Zweigelt Pet-Nat Perfect for Fish”
Jane of Always Ravenous discovers that she enjoys “Tasting and Pairing Pet-Nat Sparkling Wine”
Susannah at Avvinare shares “Blanquette de Limoux Paired with Salmon over Orzo”
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Unexpected Pairings for a Pet-Nat Duo from Donkey & Goat: Coconut Beef Curry and Holiday Cookies”
Gwendolyn from Wine Predator pairs “2 Biodynamic Loire Pet Nats: Free Mousse and Bulle Nature #WinePW”
Nicole from Somm’s Table has an “Around the World Pet Nat Party”
Lauren from The Swirling Dervish explains “Pairings for Pet-Nat from Near (NY) and Far (Czech Republic)”
Cindy from Grape Experiences share “Soalheiro Espumante Bruto Nature 2016: A Versatile, Complex Pét-Nat of Alvarinho”