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This Week's Sparkling August 17th 2019

Vanguardist Wines V Pétillant Naturel 2018 – worth your time and money

I must admit I am not a massive fan of Pétillant Naturel Wines (or Pet Nat as it is known).

It is because of this that I do not generally offer them on the website. The reason fbeing is that most, if not all leave me feeling like I am drinking a glass of cloudy carbonated water and quite underwhelmed.

It sometimes seems like Pet Nat is the hot new thing...so winemakers go through a check box process to make one and get it to market without any real care or concern about how it tastes.

Being open minded and willing to try wines that are presented to taste, I was rewarded this week.

The Vanguardist Wines V Pétillant Naturel 2018 is without doubt one of the best examples of Pet Nat that I have tried. If you are a fan of Pet Nat then you will be surprised at how good this is, if you have never tried Pet Nat then this is an opportune place to start.

But…what is Pet Nat? Is it just another Sparkling Wine?

Pétillant Naturel (literally translated means natural bubbles) is made using the oldest known method for making Sparkling Wine called the Ancestral Method.

Unlike Champagne (Methode Champenoise) and Sparkling Wine (Methode Traditionelle) where primary ferment occurs with the base wine in barrel (or tank) and secondary ferment occurs in the bottle. With the Ancestral Method, primary ferment is started in barrel and completed in the bottle. The wines are then hand riddled on flat racks (the act of turning bottles in racks to ensure even contact with yeast lees) and hand disgorged.

Often winemakers do not hand riddle/disgorge as it is quite time consuming and laborious. So to find one that has taken the care to do this, just adds to the wine.

The resulting difference is a wine that produces a lighter more delicate bubble than sparkling, flavours are also more delicate. You will mostly find Pet Nat under Crown Seal (Beer Bottle tops) rather than cork.

But back to the Vanguardist, how does it taste and why does it impress?

Vanguardist Wines Pétillant Naturel 2018 $50

Choice of grape variety in my mind is a chief factor, Michael (Corbett, Winemaker) has chosen to use Chardonnay Musqué which is a mutation of the Chardonnay variety. Musqué is French for perfumed which describes this variety perfectly, an aromatic grape that also has the structure of Chardonnay.

Having been bottled with higher sugar levels the ferment has left this Pet Nat with bigger more luxurious bubbles, more oomph so to speak! Like a traditional sparkling.

The nose offers aromas of lemons, lemon pith, brioche and soda stream, blended together to create this aromatic waft that fills the nostrils. The palate has a real wow factor, probably more so because flavours feature quite significantly. Soft delicate bubbles fill the mouth, it is really quite welcoming and then there is a series of lemon drops that “pop” on the tongue (remember those lemon drops from the tuck shop or corner store?) and just enough acid remains to cleanse the mouth before the next mouthful. This is without doubt a dry wine, but so rich in flavour.

Enjoy as an aperitif, on pour with a cocktail party or seafood. It would work wonderfully with grilled fish.

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