What is Pét Nat?
Pét Nat is short for Pétillant Naturel, which is French for “naturally sparkling”. Another name for it is Méthode Ancestrale, as it is the ancient method of making sparkling wine. When grape juice ferments, the yeast converts the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2). So, if we let the last little bit of fermentation continue in a sealed bottle, we trap the CO2 in the bottle to produce sparkling wine. Of course, we’re also trapping the yeast in the bottle - which is why the wine is cloudy.
Tokar Estate’s first Pét Nat was made from Estate-grown Shiraz and Chardonnay grapes that were planted in the 1990s. The Chardonnay grapes were hand-picked and pressed before going into a stainless-steel tank for fermentation, with the Shiraz following about a week later. The deep-red Shiraz juice was added to the Chardonnay to ferment together. Careful monitoring of the depleting sugar levels followed to ensure that the ideal sugar concentration was achieved before bottling. Too much sugar meant that the bottles could explode, but too sugar little could result in a flat wine. The wine was bottled in the Goldilocks zone and the fermentation was complete within a month.
The yeast stirs into suspension upon opening to give a haze to the deep watermelon colour, and the wine seems iridescent in the glass. The wine bubbles and foams excitedly, casting aromas of pink grapefruit, red apples, and sourdough leaven. It smells fresh and full of life. On the palate, the bubbles give the wine a lightness and a sherbet-like fizz with flavours of blackcurrant and citrus before a dry finish. While young, the wine is full of bright fruit and as it ages, we expect biscuity flavours will be released from the yeast giving the wine an extra layer of complexity. We don’t think we would wait to drink it though!