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Pét-nat, shortened from pétillant naturel, which translates to “naturally sparkling" in French, is one of the fastest-growing categories of wine styles on the market today. These frothy, easy-drinking bottles of bubbles are as refreshing as they are fruit-driven, making them top picks for brunches, lunches, and happy hours alike.
“Pet-nats are becoming exceedingly popular, and more and more producers are experimenting with them,” says Joe Catalino, sommelier and founder of What To Drink. Catalino describes the wine style as broad and encompassing, because a slew of grape varieties, vinification choices, and dryness/sweetness levels can be found within the category. “The best way to seek out the greats is to either get out there and try a ton of them, or find a local wine shop with knowledgeable staff that can help walk you through what you can expect from different bottlings,” he says.
Lucky for you, we’ve already done the hard work. Check out these tasty pét-nat picks below, sourced from various industry vets from around the country.
Best Overall: Bichi Pet Mex
Region: Baja California, Mexico | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Stone fruit, Raspberries, Honey
In the realm of bubbly pét-nats, Bichi’s Pet Mex is just about as good as it gets. This refreshing, lightly sparkling rosé wine is produced from organically/biodynamically-farmed grapes from a single-vineyard site planted at 1,000+ feet above sea level. To make things even more interesting, the grape variety remains identified, meaning that each glass holds just a touch of delicious mystery. Expect notes of stone fruit, raspberries, cream, and a touch of honey.
“A pét-nat I absolutely love is Bichi’s Pet Mex from Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California. The wine always has high-toned savory fruit [flavors], great acidity, and a completely unique flavor profile. It’s the sum of fun and serious.” — Joe Catalino, sommelier and founder of What To Drink
Best Orange: Swick Wines City Pop Pét-Nat
Region: Columbia Valley (Washington) and Willamette Valley (Oregon), USA | ABV: 12.5% | Tasting Notes: Mandarin, Orange zest, Yeast
Can’t decide if the night calls for orange wine or pét-nat? With Swick Wines’ City Pop pét-nat, there’s no need to choose. This kitchen sink blend of viognier, gewurztraminer, riesling, auxerrois, pinot gris, and pinot noir comes from high-elevation sites located in both the Columbia Valley (Washington) and Willamette Valley (Oregon). The viognier and pinot noir are direct pressed and fermented separately, while the other grapes spend 14 days on the skins (all fruit ferments with native yeasts). Post-disgorgement, the wine is bottled unfiltered and with small amounts of sulfur.
Textured and fruit-driven, the wine shows flavors of mandarin, orange zest, yeast, and a touch of apple. Tannins are present yet approachable, and the wine remains overall easy to drink (and incredibly food-friendly on the table). Serve with fermented foods, takeout favorites, or acidic salad dressings.
Best for Beginners: Birichino Petulant Natural Malvasia Bianca
Region: Santa Cruz, California | ABV: 13% | Tasting Notes: Honeysuckle, Grapefruit, Flowers
Produced in the heart of Santa Cruz, winemakers Alex Krause and John Locke bring a touch of European flare to this New World bottle of sparkles. After working alongside some of the world’s greatest winemakers, including Randall Graham and Andre Ostertag, the duo now crafts some of California’s most exciting, easy-to-drink wines. This Malvasia Bianca-based pét-nat jumps with flavors of juicy citrus, stone fruit, honeysuckle, and white flowers.
"Birichino Pet Nat Malvasia Bianca is one of my absolute favorites right now—soft carbonation with honeysuckle blossoms and sweet floral notes backed up by grapefruit aromas,” says Chris Powers, owner of Trophy Brewing Co. and State of Beer, the latter of which is home to an extensive list of wines that promise satisfy any beer drinker's palate.
Best Budget: Mirco Mariotti Smarazen Bianco Pet-Nat
Region: Emilia-Romagna, Italy | ABV: 11% | Tasting Notes: Citrus zest, Seaspray
Although Emilia-Romagna may be better known for its frothy lambruscos, this unique white blend promises to give regional reds a run for their money. Produced from a 70/30 blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia di Candia, this tart and tangy wine exudes flavors of tangy orange rind, green apple, and savory herbs. Fruit comes from 50 to 100-year-old-vines planted in the eastern part of the region, which is rooted in sandy soils and is heavily influenced by salty sea breezes. This wine is food-friendly as well as affordable. What more could you want?
“A really great value [pét-nat] is Mariotti’s Smarazen (Trebbiano/Malvasia). The wine has tight bubbles and a clear coastal influence, with a hint of sea spritz and citrus zest.”—Sande Friedman, wine buyer at Di Bruno Bros. in Philadelphia.
Best French: Domaine Saint Cyr Pét-Nat Gamay Rosé
Region: Beaujolais, France | ABV: 11% | Tasting Notes: Strawberry, Nectarine, Melon
If you can’t get enough Beaujolais in your life, then this energetic rosé of gamay is an absolute no-brainer. Crafted by fourth-generation winemaker Raphael Sant Cyr, this 100% gamay comes from 20 to 40-year-old vines rooted in clay and limestone soils. Prior to being bottled at a low low brix, grapes are direct pressed, cold settled, and begin fermentation in steel. The wine is bottled without any additives (including SO2) and is disgorged after approximately three months in bottle.
Tart, tangy, and undeniably refreshing, the wine shows flavors of wild strawberries, nectarine, melon rind, and a touch of white pepper. For a versatile wine that promises to please an array of palate preferences, you really can’t go wrong here.
Best Rosé: Agnès & René Mosse Moussamoussettes Rosé Petillant Naturel
Region: Loire Valley, France | ABV: 12% | Tasting Notes: Raspberry, white peach, kirsch
If you love natural wine, you’ve likely enjoyed a bottle or two from René and Agnes Mosse. These long-standing pioneers of the natural wine movement have been producing delicious wines in the Loire Valley for decadeds, and their Moussamoussettes pét-nat has become a global favorite. Crafted from Grolleau Gris and Gamay, this thirst-quenching wine shows flavors of raspberry, white peach, grapefruit rind, and kirsch.
Doreen Winkler, founder of Orange Glou, reveals that she purchases Mosse’s Moussamoussettes year in and year out for restaurants that she consults for—and doesn’t forget to snag a case for herself. “The wine is super refreshing and shows notes of tart raspberries and peach, [and is marked by] vibrant acidity,” she says.
For an all-around crowd pleaser that promises to satisfy the masses, Bichi’s Pet Mex (view at Vivino) or Saint Cyr’s Gamay Rosé (view at Drizly) are both great picks. For an aromatic white with a touch of coastal flair, Birichino (view at Vivino) and Mariotti’s (view at Drizly) blends are excellent choices. For those who prefer their wines with a bit of grip, Swick’s skin-contact pét-nat (view at Drizly) is a no-brainer. Best of all, most great pét-nats can be found around the $20-$30 price range, and those that clock in at the more expensive end of things generally won’t run you more than a bottle of entry-level Champagne.
How is pét-nat made?
Pét-nats are made using the méthode ancestrale, an ancient winemaking technique that predates the méthode champenoise. The biggest difference here is that méthode ancestrale wines undergo one fermentation, whereas traditional method and Charmat method sparklings experience two. Pét-nat wines, like all sparkling wines, begin vinification like any other still wine, though are bottled prior to the completion of fermentation. This means that the wine finishes its fermentation in bottle, trapping its CO2 byproduct in the wine. This creates an effervescent, lightly sparkling final wine, otherwise known as pét-nat.
How is pét-nat different from traditional bubbly (Champagne and prosecco)?
While Champagne and prosecco go through secondary fermentations, pét-nats only experience one. Wines from Champagne and prosecco are vinified dry, then have a liqueur de tirage added to them to ignite a secondary fermentation, which creates bubbles in the wine. On the other hand, pét-nats are bottled prior to the completion of their initial fermentation, which then finishes in bottle and creates a light sparkle in the wine.
Is pét-nat lower in alcohol?
Yes, While the average wine clocks in at 12-13.5 percent, pét-nats are usually bottled between 8 and 12 percent ABV. This is largely in part due to the way in which these wines are made, which often leaves a bit of sugar (and therefore, less material fermented into alcohol) in the bottle.
Can you age pét-nat?
Although there are always exceptions to the rules, most pét-nats are made for immediate/early consumption.
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Vicki Denig is a wine and travel journalist based between New York and Paris. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators. Her work regularly appears on Wine-Searcher, VinePair and more. Denig is also the Content Manager for Verve Wine, a bi-coastal retail operation (New York & San Francisco).
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