Delicious Dueling Pét-Nats from the Loire Valley & South Africa
How far back does sparkling wine go? Long before the monk Dom Perignon (supposedly) invented Champagne, vignerons made sparkling wines, often more or less by accident. See, if you put an almost finished wine into a closed container, yeast will eat any residual sugar, resulting in CO2 which, with no way out of the bottle, dissolves into the wine. Presto: bubbles!
The technique is so old that the French just call it the Ancestral Method. Nobody knows who discovered it and likely it was discovered and rediscovered again and again. Even in the modern day — the '90s in the Loire Valley — some natural wine pioneers bottled wines that weren't quite done fermenting and made some accidental bubbly. The unplanned sparklers were so tasty and interesting that producers began to make the wines intentionally, calling them Pétillant Naturel — often shortened to "Pét-Nat" — and refining their techniques and their wines.
The Mosse family was one of those first producers to show us how delicious Pet Nat could be. And their latest rosé, the 2022, is as good as ever. One of the early legends of the natural wine movement, they farm organically and add no sulfur to the wine. The bubbles are delicate and the aromas classic pet-nat, full of delicious fruit, and hints of fun, yeasty funkiness. This wine is the reason the style blew up.
Pet-Nats have spread far and wide, not just as a historical curiosity; to many winelovers and growers, it's the future. And no pet-nat producer is more forward-looking than South Africa's Bosman Family Vineyards. They use the technique in the cool Hemel-en-Aarde Valley to make a linear, focused and precise sparkling Riesling. It's clean and fresh, fun and even flirtatious, a charmer.
But more than that, it embodies what the Bosman Family hopes is the future of wine in South Africa. Fifteen years ago they transferred 1/4 of the business to a workers' trust and, together with their long-term employees, they have modernized local production built a foundation for the local industry — not just through the wines they're making but by establishing an important vinestock nursery, and creating a model fair trade winery.
Bosman Family Vineyards, Methode Ancestral Weisser Riesling, 2022 $27.99
Pure and fresh nose with lemony-pear fruit and subtle floral note, this Pet Nat has fine bubbles on the palate, pretty fruit and a mineral layer that cuts through the generosity and gives it the perfect balance for enjoying on its own or with anything from smoked trout canapé to chicken braised with white beans and winter greens.
La Famille Mosse, Moussamoussettes Petillant Naturel Sparkling Rosé (2022), NV $28.99
Deeeeeelicious pink bubbles made of Pineau d'Aunis and a little Grolleau. It's joyously full of fruit (bright red berries, citrus, hints of watermelon) with stony, yeasty complexity. This is a delicious aperitif, a perfect little thing to sip on after dinner, or a good pairing for roasted squash and chicken.
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