At Rootstock Sydney 2016 in November Pét-Nats were a hit. The full name of the wine is pétillant naturel – translation “naturally sparkling.” Made from red and white grapes, the wine is bottled while it’s still fermenting – the reason it still has bubbles.
For aficionados of natural wine, pét-nats are popular, not only because they often taste very good, but the ‘finished product’ can be a bit of a gamble. The approach to making these wines is the antithesis to the tightly controlled, complex winemaking process used to make Champagne and traditional sparkling wines, where yeast is added to an already “finished” wine and multiple vintages are blended to provide consistency of style from year to the next.
One of my favourit pét-nats at the show was the Ngeringa Uncultured Pét-Nat 2016, made by one of Australia’s leading biodynamic winemakers Erinn Klein. The Ngeringa website describes the wine as “farmhouse champagne – sparkling wine made in the méthode ancestrale without the addition of extra yeasts or sugars.”
I chatted with Klein at the Rootstock tasting, and you could tell immediately that he had fun making his first vintage of this style. It’s made from five varietals grown across both Ngeringa properties in the Adelaide Hills: viognier from the sparkling micaceous soils of the Nairne Iluma Vinyeard; pink semillon and chardonnay from the easterly-facing slopes of the Summit Vineyard; and Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer from the small original home vineyard, Ollie’s block.
Vibrant and aromatic , it’s a great summer drinking wine with an affordable price tag. The lees contact imparts a rustic, textural mouthfeel and good tannin structure. The flavours are fresh, clean and clearly delineated, with the gewürztraminer and viognier imparting inviting floral aromas that are complemented by the exotic citrus fruit aromas of the pinot gris and semillon. 25% of the blend is chardonnay, which gives the wine a fresh, acidic zip.
Sold out on the Ngeringa website, the Ngeringa Uncultured Pét-Nat 2016 is still available at organicwine.com.au. $30 a bottle.
by Merrill Witt, Editor