If Champagne is the Dean Martin of sparkling wines Petillant Naturel (Pet Nat in hipster language) must be the Johnny Rotten. Where one is suave and sophisticated, the other is wild and boisterous. They are hugely different styles (more on that below) but damned if I don’t enjoy them both. Of course, I’ve already looked at a lot of Champagnes here, but this is only my second Pet Nat review. That’s partly because these wines are a niche (though increasingly popular) product and not something you’ll find at the bottleshop. But it’s also because reviewing something like this feels a little wrong – like I’m taking all the fun out of it. I guess I’ll have to push that aside to tell you about this Ngeringa Uncultured Pet Nat 2018.
Ngeringa is based in the Adelaide Hills and one of the pioneers of biodynamic winemaking in this country. They produce a range of cool climate whites and reds and were also one of the earliest supporters of the Pet Nat style in Australia.
That brings me back to the difference between these wines and your traditional Champagne-style sparklings. Feel free to skip ahead to the review if you want to bypass the technical speak. Champagnes (and the like) are fairly complex to make: first you ferment some grape juice, like you would any other wine, then you put it in a bottle with some extra yeast to kick off another round of fermentation (creating bubbles). You let the bottle age under a crown seal before eventually ripping it off and removing the sediment. Finally, you add some extra sugar and pop a cork in it. With Pet Nats, the grape juice is bottled while it’s still fermenting and left to its devices. The result is a cloudy, bubbly wine that’s closer in some ways to beer or cider. I recommend trying one sometime, perhaps even the Ngeringa reviewed here.
The Review: Ngeringa Uncultured Pet Nat 2018
This has an “energetic” nose that’s bursting with fruity (mostly strawberry)