WINE: Tasting Natural Wines

Updated: Mar 4

Natural winemakers are stepping away from the rules of traditional wine production. The result? A wine that is bubbly, unpredictable, and worth a try. —INGRAIN, Spring 2019



STORY / Christina Perozzi


Any good independent retailer, especially those who focus on organic and natural wines, should have a nice selection of pét-nats.


These are the pét-nat wines we’ve tasted and loved from Red & White Wine Shop, which specializes in natural wines. They’re made from a variety of grapes and hail from different regions, but all are grown in chalky soil and are a little cloudy, a little weird (in a good way), and delicious.


ANCESTRAL “VINYA DEL MAS” PENEDÈS

Raventós i Blanc, Catalonia, Spain, 2015, $30


Twenty-first-generation (!) winemaker and vineyard manager Pepe Raventós extended his family’s biodynamic wine portfolio in 2014 to include a series of organic natural wines. With a tinge of funk, the sparkling Ancestral is made from 100% Spanish Xarel-lo grapes fermented with spontaneous yeasts, then bottled and racked with only a hint of unfermented sugar to initiate a secondary natural fermentation in bottle. Sour beer fans, this is your bridge wine. Pour a glass, and the cloudy, straw-colored wine releases lambic, or sour beer, and citrus aromas and flavors with a funky, super dry finish and a low 8% ABV.


LA BULLE ROUGE

Les Capriades, Loire, France, 2017, $26


Winemaker Pascal Potaire and his business partner Moses Gaddouche of Les Capriades are known as the true masters of pétillant naturels. Potaire knows just when to bottle the still fermenting wines in order to have the right amount of residual sugar and bubbles. To make La Bulle Rouge, Potaire uses only Gamay “teinturiers,” aka Gamay that has both red flesh and red juice. This wine is incredibly cheerful, with fine bubbles and a nose of red fruits and fresh raisins, plus beautiful acidity and a dry finish. At only 10% alcohol, you can pour a few glasses at the next celebration.


SANS PAGNE

Ludovic Chanson, Loire, France, 2016, $20


By respecting nature, the environment, his vineyards, and vinifying as naturally as possible, Ludovic Chanson, the winemaker behind this namesake winery, is already making great wines from Montlouis. Sans Pagne, which literally means “without loincloth,” has always been part of Chanson’s lineup. (He’s been making this cuvée since 2009.) Made from a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, the wine goes through malolactic fermentation, which tends to create a rounder, fuller mouthfeel and creates a beautifully textured wine with soft, round bubbles and bright, lemony acidity.


KALKSPITZ

Christoph Hoch, Kremstal, Austria, Non Vintage, $28


Like Chanson, Hoch is a young winemaker who also got the pét-nat bug in 2009, only in the Kremstal in Austria. (He started making traditional-style wines at his parents’ winery.) The Kalkspitz (kalk = chalk, and spitz = acidity) is made with vibrant and spicy Grüner Veltliner grapes with several other varietals in small amounts (Blauer Portugieser, Muskat Ottonel, Sauvignon Blanc, Zweigelt). The result is a dry wine with refreshing acidity and creaminess on the palate, with notes of spice and grass.


MOUSSAMOUSSETTES

Domaine Mosse, Loire, France, 2017, $30


Agnès and René Mosse live and work in the village of Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay in the Coteaux du Layon area of Anjou. The area’s microclimate allows for a long grape hang time, and when the mornings are foggy in the fall, with no rain, botrytis develops easily on the Chenin grapes.(Otherwise known as “noble rot,” botrytis helps intensify the sweetness and adds complexity to the wine.) This vintage is the first in which the main grape variety (60%) is Pineau d'Aunis, supplemented by the local Grolleau Noir variety. We love this wine. It’s pink, delicious, limpid, very slightly sweet, and the perfect aperitif for a spring or summer lunch or evening aperitif—an ideal example of a pét-nat.


For more on Pét -Nat wines, check out our interview with natural wine expert Nadim Nadim Audi.