The starting point for these wild and authentic wines is the so-called natural wine scene in France. This has set itself the goal of producing wine and sparkling wine without added sulphur.
The method for the production of a Pet Nat is called Méthode Rurale: Here, already fermenting must with about 20-30 g residual sugar is filled into stable bottles, where it can continue to ferment unhindered. The sugar is fully utilised, which is why Pétillant Naturel is often dry. However, when fresh must is bottled - as is also possible with Pet Nats - a residual sweetness remains and the result is sweeter.
During the production process, as with any bottle fermentation, a kind of yeast plug settles on the neck of the bottle. In traditional sparkling wine production, each bottle is disgorged after the first fermentation - that is, the winemaker removes the yeast plug and refills the liquid bubbling out of the bottle with the so-called dosage.
The dosage consists of a mixture of wine, sugar, yeast and sulphur. By adding the yeast and sugar again, the champagne or sparkling wine is fermented once more - until the desired result is achieved.
Pétillant Naturel: Only one fermentation process
In contrast, a Pétillant Naturel only goes through a fermentation process - and the result is not clearly predictable. The carbonic acid produced during this process preserves the wine in a natural way. Therefore, it does not need any sulphur addition.
The addition of a dosage is excluded with Pet Nats. Most of these sparkling natural wines mature completely in the bottle and end up at the customer's premises exactly as they were put into the bottle before - together with the natural yeast stopper. Some Pet Nats are degorged. However, only dry wine from the same grapes is added to them. Sugar, yeast or even sulphur are left out.
Sparkling wine: the pressure makes the difference
As with any conventional bottle fermentation, Pet Nats also generates a lot of pressure inside the bottle. After only about six to nine months, five to seven bars are possible. That is an enormous amount.
That is why the bottles used must be extremely stable. Since most Pet Nats are not disgorged when they come onto the market, they are tightly sealed with a crown cap. This may seem unspectacular, but it makes sense because of the great pressure inside. Opening a Pétillant Naturel can therefore be an exuberant affair - and is as exciting and special as the natural wine itself.
The effervescence of Pet Nats can vary considerably. From a light sparkling wine to a very bubbly sparkling wine, everything is possible with this natural product. This is due to the fact that an exact definition of the production does not exist yet. The difference between sparkling wine and semi-sparkling wine is basically the carbon dioxide contained and the respective pressure. Sparkling wines have between one and 2.5 bar and are only slightly sparkling, while sparkling wines must have at least three bar and are much more sparkling. Some Pet Nats are clearly above these values.
And the wild Frenchman also stands out with another special feature: about 95 percent of all Pet Nats fall under the generic term Orange Wine. This means that the entire mash is fermented. It is not filtered before bottling, but the must contains the complete berries, including seeds, skin and pulp.
The resulting pet nats are naturally cloudy and their taste is clearly marked by tannic acid. This is all the more responsible for the natural and original character of these natural wines.
Unpredictable and authentic
Pet Nats do not keep as long as their traditional relatives sparkling wine and champagne. But that goes well with this natural wine, as does its unpredictability. Taste and pearliness can vary from bottle to bottle. But this is also desirable with a Pétillant Naturel. This is how authenticity and craftsmanship are revealed. Because the product is inseparably linked to the tact and sensitivity of the cellar masters who make it. And this is exactly what makes Pet Nats so interesting for connoisseurs who like to experiment. For example, the wines inspire with a fine, fragrant aroma. Or with tart notes reminiscent of quince or apple.
Craftsmanship and experience
Pet Nats captivate in any case by their handicraft production, in which experience and love for detail flow in, because they get along without addition of sulfur they are extremely digestible. If they are also naturally cloudy, tanning agents provide a new taste experience.
In short, every bottle is a testimony to a close relationship with nature and special craftsmanship. No wonder that they are particularly popular with urban trendsetters. Because hardly any other sparkling wine stands for naturalness, authenticity and individuality as much as a Pétillant Naturel.