Natural Wine Meets Cider In These Pét-Nat Sparklers

Illustration of apple trees, cider presses and barrels

Boasting an array of flavors and textures, and crafted by winemakers of all kinds, pétillant naturel has become an undeniably popular wine category in recent years. Yet, most bottlings in the spotlight have one thing in common: They’re grape-based.

The méthode ancestrale technique used to make this style of bubbles isn’t limited to one type of fruit, however, and, as cidermakers have begun to learn, apples can yield just as delicious sparkling results.

Cider is just apple wine, after all.

North American producers are at the forefront of the trend and use European and American heirloom apple varieties, as well as foraged wild apples, to create a whole new world of pét-nats. Ahead, four bottles to get you started.

Coturri Winery Pét-Nat Cider | Glen Ellen, CA

In addition to natural wines, winemaker Tony Coturri has crafted ciders since 2008, but he didn’t make them by the méthode ancestrale method until 2016. “I always call it a farmer’s Champagne,” says Coturri. In this multivintage bottling, he uses Gravenstein apples from 60-year-old trees and blends in cider from past years for complexity.

Eden Specialty Ciders Cellar Series #16 Benjamin | Newport, VT

Named for orchardist Benjamin Applegate, who has worked with founder/cidermaker Eleanor Leger since 2009, this bottling is a blend of 15 varieties. The mix includes apples with European and American origins, like Northern Spy, Golden Russet and Rubinette, all sourced from biodynamic orchards.

Cider is Having a Real Moment

South Hill Cider Pét-Nat | Ithaca, NY

For his sole pét-nat, cidermaker Steve Selin uses a blend of bittersweet and bittersharp apples like Dabinett, Chisel Jersey and Geneva Bitter. Following the Normandy tradition of cidermaking, he uses a process called keeving, which helps preserve some residual sugar and adds tannic complexity. “If I used those same apples without the process, it wouldn’t get the same results,” says Selin. “You need both.”

Twin Island Cider North End Pét-Nat | Pender Island, British Columbia

Four years ago, Matthew Vasilev and Katie Selbee set out to make hybrid pét-nats with both apples and grapes. Last year, they started a site-specific series of pét-nat ciders that featured heirloom apples from orchards around Pender Island. This bottling features King of Tompkins County apples from trees planted in 1895.

Published on November 17, 2020
Topics: Cider