Okanagan Wine Lesson #19: What is “Pet-Nat”?
Master the newest vintner slang and look like a pro on your next wine tour.
I feel sorry for Okanagan vintners (Blue Mountain, Fitzpatrick, Summerhill) that are making wine in what used to be called methode champenoise (and now, thanks to some French patent attorneys, is called traditional method). It’s an amazingly time-consuming and expensive process, but the flipside is that it makes exquisitely refined and elegant bubbles. But these days, all the cool kids call their bubbles Pet-Nat (short for pétillant naturel), a much-simplified process that is arguably as old as the traditional method, but with fewer steps required of the winemaker. In the Loire Valley, it produced cheerful wines made usually from chenin that were far less expensive than in neighbouring Champagne. Here it produces wines that—like this baby from Bella Wines—are actually more expensive than those using the traditional method. Crazy? Yes and no. One the one hand it underscores what a great deal our traditional method wines are; on the other it underscores the appeal of Pet-Nat—it’s a more natural, less interventionist way of making bubbles. A sip of one of Bella’s methode ancestrale rosés is a jolt of acidity and authenticity and primal fruit that proves beautifully simple isn’t always cheap.