Pet Nat from the Azores, really
My post of last year about the rising quality of wines from the Azores is second only to my report on Douro 2011 reds. I’m sure its popularity has partly been fuelled by the fact that budget flight operators Easyjet and Ryanair have been servicing the island since April – by all accounts, their arrival has been great for tourists drawn to the stunning natural beauty of this remote Atlantic archipelago. And what better way to greet these ecotourists than with a glass of Pet Nat – a sure sign of a wine industry similarly keen to expand its horizons.
Like the Azores, Pet Nat has been enjoying a steep trajectory of success or popularity. For Pet Nat, on the back of the growth of natural wines. Though the name is derived from pétillant-naturel, Pet Nats take ‘au naturel’ a stage further. There is not only no bubble-inducing addition of sugar and yeast (which makes for a light sparkle), but also no disgorgement to remove yeast sediment from the bottle.
Leaving the sediment in the bottle explains why Pet Nats are a little hazy compared with favourite pétillant-naturels, like those from Domaine Huet and Domaine de la Taille aux Loup, which are crystal clear. Having been aged in the bottle for some years, these Loire sparklers show complex autolytic notes, making them a good substitute for Champagne. Released young, on the other hand, Pet Nats are invariably about raw immediacy – putting the fun into funk. Just like this no added sulphites 2015 Azores’ pair, the first to be made by the Pico Co-operative. Only a few hundred bottles each.
Co-operativa Vitivinícola da Ilha do Pico Pet Nat Branco 2015
A blend of Verdelho, Terrantez de Pico and Arinto do Azores this has the prickle of green tomato and incipient nuttiness I associate with Verdelho. And as you’d expect from the Azores, it has good drive and freshness, which means it tastes drier than you’d expect from a bottle labelled medium dry. The bead is exuberant if a little coarse. Though I wouldn’t describe it as sophisticated, it does capture the island’s grapes and fresh, salty wine style well. I liked it. 11%
Co-operativa Vitivinícola da Ilha do Pico Pet Nat Rosé 2015
Now this wine’s sweetness, creamy fruit and gentler fizz surprised me, putting me in mind of a childhood drink – Cresta, as in “it’s frothy man!” I’d plump for Cresta strawberry soda, but the fruit has a little more acid – let’s say raspberry cream soda. Again, good acid drive lends exuberance and balance. A little too sweet for me but an enjoyable quaffer – less adult than the branco. And more about the variety – 100% Merlot. 11%