Pét Nats

I’m curious to get the Berserker POV on Pét Nats. Are you drinking them? What do you like/dislike about them?

If you’re unfamiliar, Pét Nat is short for Pétillant Natural, a French term that describes the oldest sparkling wine method on record (pre-dating Champagne). What makes Pét Nats different from Champagne? Champagne starts with finished barrel-aged base wine, to which a measured amount of sugar and yeast is added at bottling, forcing the wine into a secondary fermentation in-bottle.

On the other hand, when you open a bottle of Pét Nat, you’re drinking a sparkling wine that’s gone through only one fermentation. The grapes go from vine to bottle very quickly, while the wine is still actively in primary fermentation, which means most of the wine work happens naturally in the bottle. The process is fast. It can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Pét Nat winemakers have to trust their fruit and their process, because there is little opportunity for intervention, adjustments, or influence from oak or amphoras.

In recent years, Pét Nats have been popping up (fun pun?) in independent wine shops everywhere. Last month I saw them on an endcap at my local Whole Foods. Have they hit mainstream store shelves in your market yet? If not, my bet is you’ll likely see them there soon.

As Pét Nats become more mainstream, defining them seems to be getting harder to do too. They aren’t varietal specific, they aren’t region specific and they come all the shades of the rainbow. Are some sweet? Yes. Are some dry? Yes. And then there is the literal and philosophical question: to disgorge or not to disgorge. This question seems to be at the forefront of defining Pét Nats…but is that fair? I find the mystery around what to expect from a bottle of Pét Nat refreshing (another fun pun?) and interesting. And God Damnit, I think that’s fun.

Pali Wine Co. recently released a Pét Nat called “Chardonapple” which is described as “a 50/50 blend of estate grown Chardonnay and Newton Pippin apples, with a cheeky smooch from some spent Pinot Noir Skins.” (@PetNatposse)

Are Pét Nats lawless? Yeah, I’d say so. And I support these outlaws in the wine industry. To me, Pét Nats encourage experimentation and innovation in an industry that’s steadfast in its devotion to tradition. The wine industry is big; there’s enough room in it for a little bit of experimentation. :cheers:

Full disclosure: I’m a winemaker. I make traditional Napa Valley wines and Pét Nats too. I love making both and I love drinking both. Traditional winemaking is a long game. Making Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon takes 24 months, minimum. Making Pét Nats takes 24 days (on average). As a winemaker, I appreciate the long game because it gives me time to think, to move slowly and with intention. On the other hand, I have found myself agonizing over traditional winemaking because there is time to do so. Therein lies the beauty of Pét Nats - decisions are quick, the process is fast, and then it’s in the bottle and out of the winemaker’s hands. One style rewards patience and the other rewards quick thinking and both wine styles are reputable in my opinion.

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I drink a lot of champagne, and have had probably a dozen or so pet nats. I can recall none of the producers and had no really enjoyable experiences. I found that pet nats came across as fun grape beers, with lower complexity, a rougher mousse, and far less overall satisfaction than even a decent bottle of champagne.

But hey, there is a time and place for things, right? I drink coors light every now and then, had about two dozen Caybrew lagers last week, like a good gin and tonic, scotch by the fire, and all that jazz. So I assume there is a spot for Pet Nats, likely because they’re not usually all that expensive, are sparkling, are reasonably refreshing and somewhat enjoyable if well made.

I assume winemakers like making them because time to market is short and margin is probably pretty high. Certainly cheaper and easier than champagne. They fall into the category of rose for me: I don’t really see the point and don’t get the fuss. But by all means, enjoy away. Many folks here have greatly differing preferences on wines, and one should pursue the wines that makes one happy.


i enjoy PetNats Elise - and it’s neat to have your post with your thoughts as a winemaker on them.

The first I had wwere from Johan Vineyards - bought during a Berserker Day. Their Pinot PetNat was a fun and suprising wine. I shared them at several brunches and they were the perfect beverage.

I also drink the Cruse Wines Pett Nats which are much more polished yet equally joyful wines. we celebrated Kit’s pre-wedding dinner with one - a perfect match gir such a happy celebration.

I enjoy these a lot - and I’m glad there are more coming to market.

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I’d say they are well-absorbed into the mainstream, but there is room for growth in older demographics since they didn’t grow through the service industry while Pet Nats were widely available (at least in the US). You can find them at any wine shop in the Midwest, and every trendy restaurant is going to offer at least one Pet Nat that is generally very affordable and marketed to a younger crowd. The variability in quality and style is both a feature and bug, IMO, akin to the flexibility enjoyed by microbreweries experimenting with different styles. There are a lot of the larger Pet Nat producers who seem to spend a lot more time creating cool labels than refining the product. I’m open to trying more, but I’ve just had so many meh to bad experiences with them, I’m more interested to try other categories of sparkling.

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Haha, I hadn’t heard them described like this, it’s cute and I like it a lot! Thanks for sharing your POV @K_John_Joseph. You’re right, I think winemakers like Pet Nats because they’re time to market is short; they’re a great product to promote cash flow; cash flow can be a big problem for wine producers. Surprisingly, the margins aren’t significantly different than producing a still wine. Grape prices are grape prices no matter the winemaking style, and sparkling wine glass happens to be one of the highest priced glass molds available. Barrels are another significant cost, but not many sparkling producers use new oak, I’d guess, so I’d assume that’s not a huge expense for champagne producers, at least.

Thanks for the referral to Johan Vineyards and Cruse Wines @Siun_O_Connell, I’m trying to find great Pet Nats, so I’ll definitely check them out.

Yes, there are some bad Pet Nats wines out there, and definitely a fair share of producers who focus on label art rather than quality wines. My guess is, with time, the industry will weed those producers out. As the old adage goes: Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…

Got any champagne recos?

I think in many ways, Pet Nats and carbonic maceration wines scratch the same itch from the winemaker and consumer side - they are ‘quick to market’ and enjoyable immediately. Both are meant to enjoy immediately but some can age for a bit as well.

And both tend to be priced ‘more reasonably’, making them attractive to non-wine drinkers as well.


How much time do you have? :laughing:

That would be surprising to me. I went back and looked at my tasting notes. Yeasty, beer like, malty, strawberry husk, rhubarb all were used. As a wine geek, I thought if it as a nice novelty but nothing you would really go out of your way to track down. None of my non geek friends wanted anything to do with it. I’ve seen it on a few wine lists in restaurants in the NJ/NY metro area but doesn’t seem mainstream at all. Almost never for sale in bottle shops.

I drink little sparkling wine. Just doesn’t do much for me. To paraphrase Cole Porter, I get no kick from Champagne.
Pet Nats are different.
Particularly, I have enjoyed the Pet Nats of La Garagista, a Vermont winery with Deirdre Heekin at the helm. Her Pet Nats are outstanding and one of the few Vermont wines worth seeking.

Mainstream ≠ wine geek crowd. Every hipsterized wine menu in the country has a pet nat on it, or maybe Kansas City is the pet nat capital of America. Every 1 million+ city has at least one natty wine-focused store or a store with decent natty wine focus. That’s my perspective. Tasting notes have nothing to do with it. They are very marketable.

Perhaps in NY/NJ, you just have so many good stores with traditional focus you don’t see them everywhere, but they are very much around my local shops.

We sell way more Pet Nat than Champagne instore.

And the opposite online.


Wow! Great intel, thanks for sharing.

@Andrew_Morris makes a killer one. If you’re not careful it’ll kill you! :grin:

It does seem like a lot of folks here in Napa are making them as a tasting room-only offering, since it’s also kind of a novelty (in a good way) for nearly everyone, and who doesn’t want to try something special, weird, different, and limited when they’re enjoying their time at a tasting?

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For my palate, seems like a wine only a wine geek could love. Not sure how it appeals to the masses but good on them. Maybe it’s the new craft beer

I think that these types of wines are attractive to non-wine drinkers, because they are out of the ordinary and ‘different’

My experience is that “the masses” love wines that are delicious, especially if you don’t portray them as weird and just tell them what to expect, taste-wise. Ironically, it can be harder to get wine geeks to try wines from out-of-the-ordinary appellations/techniques, because they know enough to be sure they won’t like them.

When I worked retail in Nashville, for example, we sold cases and cases of Camillo Donati’s sparkling+skin-contact Malvasia. It was non-disgorged (though not pet-nat), so it was hazy and orange—but that wine is so easy to love once you pop the crown cap.

Champagne - The Greatest Thread on Berserkers

I’ll just leave that link there. We hit all price points, natty sparklers, method, young, old, domestic, foreign, it’s not really just champagne. It’s welcoming, fun, we know a bunch of each other’s preferences and so can weigh whether a reco is a good fit for this or that person’s palate. Really friendly group. Tons of phenomenal information and great recos, high and low.

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