Pét nat, short for Pétillant Naturel, is a type of sparkling wine that is made by bottling your wine while it is fermenting instead of letting the wine finish fermentation before adding the bubbles. In our opinions this means the wine is way out of the winemaker’s control. But sometimes letting a wine do its thing without trying to influence it is the best way to get an amazing bottle of bubbles.
If you google around the interwebs to learn about pét nat, it seems that this style of winemaking “predates” Champagne because for as long as we have been fermenting things, we’ve been bottling/canning/enclosing them a little too soon and getting a spritzy product. This wine is produced in the méthode ancestrale, or rurale, or artisanale, or gaillacoise method… which just means that before it is finished fermenting, it is enclosed in a bottle and then the rest of the fermentation that happens leaves behind CO2 that cannot escape the enclosed environment, so it becomes dissolved CO2, which gives us the bubbles we are used to in sparkling wine.
So basically, it’s the same as Champagne, or wines made in the “traditional method” but nowadays we are able to separate the two also because as the wine becomes a finished product, pét nat producers tend to not riddle or disgorge their wines, which leaves them cloudy. At 3100 we shake up the bottles and leave them upside down (a poor way of riddling) and then disgorge the bulk of the yeast and other solids. Even though we attempt to get the solids out of the wine, it is still cloudy, and some bottles are more cloudy than others.
Our pét nat gets its name from the infamous Marshall Minder. When he was guiding full time, one of his favorite sections to do with the paddle boat was the upper 20 miles of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River (and Impassable Canyon, and the Owyhee, and the Jarbidge… ok so he likes the paddle boat!) and after introducing himself as Marshall to guests at the beginning of a 6 day trip, they would get onto the paddle boat and be re-introduced to General Phunk! Marshall’s alter-ego, General Phunk. When a good friend of ours described this wine as pleasantly funky, we knew exactly what we were going to call it.
The General Phunk is always a little out of our control, just like Marshall’s alter-ego… but always flirty, fun, and fruity.
If you want to learn more about Pét Nats and what they are all about, check out this great article by Vine Pair!