Do We Pét-Nat?
OKANAGAN WINE SCHOOL LESSON # 19:
I feel sorry for Okanagan vintners (Blue Mountain, Fitzpatrick, Summerhill) who are making wine in what used to be called
méthode champenoise (and now, thanks to French patent attorneys, is called “traditional method”). It’s an amazingly time-consuming and expensive process, but the flip side is that it makes exquisitely refined and elegant bubbles. But these days, all the cool kids want their bubbles “pét-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 are—like this baby from
Bella Wines— actually more expensive than those using the traditional method. Crazy? Yes and no. On the one hand, it underscores what a great deal our traditional-method wines are; on the other, it underscores the appeal of pét-nat (also known locally as méthode
ancestral)— it’s a more natural, less interventionist way of making bubbles. A sip of one of Bella’s méthode
ancestrale rosés is a jolt of acidity and authenticity and primal fruit that proves that, sometimes, beautifully simple isn’t cheap.
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