31. pet-nats

we are so happy to welcome back our food and wine contributor, kimberly scott. this month, kimberly introduces us to some of her favorite sparkling wines for spring:

spring is springing and along with it i wanted to add a little spring to your glass with a profile of some pet-nats. this stands for petillant naturel, a french term meaning naturally sparkling wine.

pet-nats are sparkling wines without intervention. the bubbles are created in the bottle by the natural fermentation process of yeasts feeding on the sugars in the wine (both of which occur naturally in the grapes, hence 'naturel').

this is where pet-nats differ from their far more famous cousins, the wines of champagne. champagnes are made with a process known as methode traditionelle. they undergo two fermentations: a quick way to describe it is first they make the wine (1st fermentation), and then they open up the bottles and put in the magic dosage, a solution of extra sugar and wine. the yeasts eat the sugar, get excited, and make a ton of bubbles inside the bottle (2nd fermentation).

as a result of just having that single fermentation, pet-nats have a texture that is different from methode traditionelle wines. definitely sparkling, lively, and a lot of fun, they have a pleasantly softer edge.

here are three pet-nat gems i've found that i think you'll enjoy:

denny bini levante 90 malvasia dell'emilia frizzante - emilia romagna, italy - malvasia

light and golden, it embodies the gentle sparkling texture of pet-nats. apricots, orange oil, and lean pears, with a background of mulling spices. drink it on its own or enjoy with your favorite chevre; hail formaggio kitchen for one of Tricia Smith's perfect gems from ruggles hill creamery. a truly charming wine, with an understated elegance to be reflected on if you're in the mood. it's too bad there isn't much of it made, but perhaps that's part of it's secret.

podere il saliceto "bi fri" - emiligia romagna, italy - sauvignon blanc, trebbiano

honeycrisp apples macerated in lemon, cold slate, and sea salt. mouth-watering with a refreshingly sharp edge, it would make easy friends with sushi or fried oysters. gianpaolo isabella, along with his brother, tends to this tiny estate nestled in the village of campogalliano. gianpaolo is not only a great winemaker, he is a muy thai champion, further illustrating the many walks in life from which people can arrive at wine.

oyster river winegrowers, morphos - warren maine - seyval blanc and cayuga
the fact that this wine does not include actual lemons is baffling. this is the adult version of all-natural sparkling lemonade, but infinitely more complex with a happy chorus of white blossoms in the background. alive, perfectly balanced and refreshing, the only thing that's missing is that it doesn't come with a pair of sunglasses and a beach. pair with a good friend, a ray of sunshine, or maybe just a sandwich. i'd be interested to see what happens as this wine evolves with a little time in the cellar. it's wonderful to see a maine wine producer working on climate-appropriate wine: cool temperatures can lend themselves to sparkling wine. these folks are charming wine makers who not only farm with their horse, but run a horse-driven delivery service in the winter to supplement their income.

if you'd like to grab a bottle of any of these, please call on the good people at the wine bottega. but i warn you, once you start you can't stop. it's a wonderland of wine with a staff of friendly helpful people who can geek out with experts or usher a novice to delicious new finds.

here's hoping you find a little bit of sunshine in your glass, even if there isn't quite any on your shoulders. it's coming, even if it seems to be taking its sweet time of it this year in boston.


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