Nature's Bubbles

The single-fermented joys of pétillant-naturel

Lately, we no longer dream about bottles of Grand Cru Champagne, and we've all but lost interest in crémants and Proseccos.

That's because we've become obsessed with pétillant-naturel, a style of sparkling wine that's so reliant on wild yeast that each bottling is a singular experience of terroir.

We first fell in love with the genre last summer, thanks to madman winemaker Andrea Calek. Since then, pétillant's popularity on our shores has increased dramatically. Our latest favorite is La Petite Gaule du Matin ($17.50), a new bottle from the Loire-based vintner Frantz Saumon.

As with all pétillant-naturels, the Gaule du Matin is fermented only once, and the interaction of wild yeasts and residual sugars results in carbonation.

And while this minimalist handling can lead to rambunctious results (such as Calek's Blonde), the Gaule du Matin is all elegance. Made with Menu Pineau, a sister to the region's more popular Chenin Blanc, it smells like fresh-baked almond cookies with a hint of brassy, sherry-like oxidization.

This is a crisp, finely carbonated sparkler that's low enough in alcohol and price to warrant drinking numerous bottles. It's only available through the mailing list of its importer, Selection Massale. [Editor's Note: The response to this article was even better than anticipated, and currently the Gaule du Matin is sold out. In the interim, sign up for the importer's mailing list to be informed when future allotments arrive.]

Then go find something to toast to–repeatedly.