Pét-nat bubbles are produced by the oldest and least interventional method, méthode ancestrale, which originated in Limoux in the South of France. Pét-nat ways predate bubbly Champagne and bear distinct qualities derived from fermentation in the bottle, generated by yeasts that are native to the vineyard or winery.
Because it is bottled under a crown cap (think of a beer bottle) during fermentation, carbon dioxide remains in the bottle, resulting in bubbles. Winemakers don’t hand-hold the fermentation process – what happens in the bottle stays in the bottle. This results in a vibrant, lively, alive fermentation process – a method of delivering all that vivacity direct-to-drinker. Flavor profiles vary due to the grape varietal and other conditions, so bottle-to-bottle uniqueness is the rule.
I had the opportunity to talk to Central Coast winemakers Ian Brand and David Baird about pét-nat wines – how they are made and why winemakers are interested in adding them to their creative portfolio. Includes recommendations for California pét-nat bottles to try in the new year.