Post-prosecco: the hip new natural champagne alternative is causing a buzz

(Image credit: Rebecca Scheinberg)

Clockwise from top left, Gribulles Pét-Nat 2016, £19, by Les Noades, from Borough Wines. Pét-Nat 2017, £15, by Maison S4, from Borough Markets; ‘Elements’ champagne flutes, €323 for two, by Scholten & Baijings, For J Hill’s Standard; Ali Boit Boit Pét-Nat, £18, by Agnes Paquet, from Stannary Wine Co. ‘Cuttings’ champagne flute, €250 for two, by Martino Gamper, for J Hill’s Standard; Pét-Nat 2016, £17, by Tillingham Wines, from Handford Wines. ‘Elements’ cocktail glass, €170, by Scholten & Baijings, for J Hill’s Standard; Trousseau Pét-Nat 2016, £38, by Stolpman Vineyards, from Stannery St Wine Co. ‘Elements’ wine glass, €170, by Scholten & Baijings, for J Hill’s Standard.

Increasingly popping up in hip bars on both sides of the Atlantic is pétillant naturel (or pét-nat), a gently sparkling wine. This new trend is actually the revival of an ancient technique, méthode ancestrale, where fermentation is halted in winter and restarted in spring. The result is unfiltered full flavours and a finer bubble.

‘I love pét-nats because they break the monopoly of champagne and prosecco,’ says Pierre Malouf, general manager at Ottolenghi restaurants. ‘They are fresh, not too high in alcohol, and have a serious backbone. To me, they embody the winemaker’s relationship with his or her land and grapes.’

Ali Boit Boit Pet Nat

Ali Boit Boit Pét-Nat, by Agnes Paquet, from Stannary Wine Co

(Image credit: Rebecca Scheinberg)

One such winemaker is Ben Walgate of Tillingham Wines in East Sussex. When he released a pét-nat last year, it sold out in five days. ‘Our farming is organic, we don’t use sulfites and we foster biodiversity. This gives the wine a unique taste and sense of place,’ he says.

Now his wine is stocked at the likes of natural wine champions The Laughing Heart in Hackney and Terroirs in Covent Garden, Marylebone restaurant Carousel, and upscale wine club 67 Pall Mall, and Walgate predicts it won’t be long before big producers get in on the act.

As originally featured in the July 2018 issue of Wallpaper* (W*232)