This is one delicious bottle of wine!
When I think of Pet-Nat, I think vivacious, fun and in the hands of most winemakers, gentle and soothing effervescence.
More something to accompany than to lead.
I think of easy afternoons and leaning back. I remember with a smile my friend Sophie Barret calling Pet-Nat some years back ‘a summer’s fling’ when comparing it to the perfection of Champagne.
This bottle is so much more.
It wraps the trifecta of an ancient plot of California Chenin Blanc, the simple methodology of Pétillant Nature with the light and minimalist touch of one of my favorite natural winemakers, Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars.
To the palate, this bottle of 2015 sparkling Chenin is alive and approachable, carrying a powerful balance of minerality and acidity.
To the nose, something floral in the oozing effervescence.
And to the body and soul, just satiation that wafts easily on a warm day, yet with the indelible mark of a unique place and specific winemaker.
To those who don’t know Chris’s work, consider yourself fortunate to have such discovery in front of you.
He is one of the new world natural winemakers who are all in on a non-interventionist approach, without being ostentatious or loud about it.
Just making wine naturally that carries his individual fingerprint as a winemaker be it this bottle, his Grenache, Syrah, white or red Zin.
He makes his wines in Berkeley, California sleuthing out the organic, the obscure, the said-they-couldn’t-be-found plots of grapes everywhere. His wines are by definition restrained, terroir-obsessed, naturally low in alcohol, residual sugar and SO2, yet strong and resilient in character.
His wine feels kindred in character to the remarkable Clairets from Domaine de la Tournelle in the Jura. Such a light yet studiously standoffish touch with such strength of conviction in the result.
Every bottle is unmistakably his.
From the often ethereal graphics on his labels to the undeniable take-away of satisfaction, this wine is not in your face, but in your head and on your palate in a memorable way.
I fell for Pétillant Naturel as a way of making sparkling wine years ago, from the very first time someone poured one. I think one from Philippe Bornard.
An ancient and simple method, basically bottling wine before it has finished fermenting. With the bubbles forming naturally as the wild yeasts digest sugar in the grape juice and release carbon dioxide that is trapped inside the bottle.
Often hand disgorged as the lots are small, and in this one, non-dosage (no added sugar) as well.
The conundrum here of course is that Chris made only 152 cases, and his wine disappears into the glasses of the community quickly.
Try and find it. At $30, it is a true afternoon delight. If you do, check out the technical notes as they will deepen the story and your enjoyment along with it.
If you can’t find this one, try something else of Chris’s.
More and more I believe that vintage or even grape is somehow less important. That the wine we love comes from an emotional affair between a unique place in time and the intent and skill of each individual winemaker themselves.
I’ll consider this post a success if it spurred you to uncork one of his bottles, Pet-Nat or no.
She was so right on with this one!