What is Le Pet Nat?
Pet Nat is an abbreviation - the whole name is "Pétillant Naturel", which is French for "natural sparkling wine". But nobody says that, because "Pet Nat" just sounds cooler.
Such a natural sparkling wine is not sulphurized and therefore a bit unpredictable. And it is the invention of some crazy French winemakers who became world famous years ago in the course of the Vins Naturels movement.
How do you make a Pet Nat?
The natural sugar contained in the grape must wants to turn into alcohol with the help of natural yeasts. This produces CO2 (carbonic acid) naturally.
For the Pet Nat, the crazy winemaker fills the grape must into a bottle during natural fermentation, which is then sealed with a crown cap. He makes sure that the must has a residual sugar content of 20 to 30 g per liter. Now the grape must continues to work (ferments) in the bottle, which creates a lot of pressure because the fermentation carbonic acid can no longer escape. Instead, it combines with the wine to create a sparkling wine naturally. The Pet Nat.
Since the crazy winemaker naturally knows that with 4 grams of natural sugar in the must there is exactly one bar of overpressure, he can calculate that after about nine months - that is the time that the yeast needs to digest the sugar - about will have five to seven bar pressure in the bottle. This is comparable to the pressure in champagne, which sometimes takes several years to build up so much pressure. On the other hand, the champagne mousse is much finer, because it had much more time to bind the carbon dioxide in the liquid (the wine).
A Pet Nat can be wild and boisterous, and is often clouded. When you open the bottle, the pressure tends to be released suddenly and may take part of the wine with it, much to the chagrin of the person opening it. To prevent this, some of the crazy winemakers disgorge the Pet Nat. You already know that from champagne. When disgorging, the fermentation yeast is removed and the bottle is refilled, often with the same dry wine - the so-called "shipping dosage". Since this contains no sugar, it is also referred to as "zero dosage". Such a wine can then be declared as Brut Nature. In fact, most Pet Nats are Brut Nature, as only a few will add sugar and sometimes some sulphur. In general, however, they do not contain any added sulfur, because the carbon dioxide produced protects the wine in a natural way and the additive can therefore be dispensed with.
Pet Nats have quickly become a fashion phenomenon, but have now established themselves and are now an integral part of the wine scene.
Which grape varieties are suitable for Pet Nat?
You can make Pet Nats from all grape varieties: Baga, Chardonnay, Loureiro, Alvarihno, Pinot, Riesling etc.
Another interesting article that sheds light on the topic from an Austrian perspective can be found on Juliane Fischer's blog .
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