Pétillant naturel (Pét-Nat), literally meaning “naturally sparkling,” is a term for sparkling wine made by Méthode Ancestrale. The wine begins its fermentation as any other white; but prior to completion, the wine is bottled under crown cap to finish the fermentation in bottle. The small amount of sugar left in the wine is consumed by the yeast, resulting in a dry finished product. The carbon dioxide produced by the yeast then dissolves into the wine, producing fine bubbles. The bubble size is slightly smaller than in Methodé Champenoise sparkling wines. Due to an active fermentation in bottle, it remains slightly cloudy and will settle some with time. With such a non-interventionist style of winemaking, Pét-Nat offers a unique glimpse into the characteristics of the vintage.
In the lively spirit of Virginia, 2021 was an exciting vintage for Early Mountain. It very much reflects the impact of site, with regions throughout the state experiencing highly varying climatic events, greatly influencing the dynamic range in fruit attributes.
Early spring, we gratefully saw few frost events, escaping significant fruit damage. Despite some early season rains, bloom-time in the vineyard was quite dry, allowing for a good fruit set. With warm daytime temperatures throughout most of the growing season, we saw high and even ripening throughout both Quaker Run and Early Mountain vineyards. The late season rains, leading to harvest were also accompanied by notable drying (this was doubly obvious when tending to our new plantings, which need water!). Overall, despite harvest-time rainfall, we could not have asked for a better result.