Jamesport Vineyards has added a trio of unusual, easy-drinking sparklers to its portfolio.
Look for a pink grapefruit-colored syrah, an amber cabernet franc and a straw yellow albariño (the northforker favorite) made in the pétillant naturel style in the tasting room this fall.
Pétillant naturel — which is also called méthode ancestral — is, as its name suggests, an ancient way of making sparkling wine.
Pétillant Naturel wines are bottled before primary fermentation — the fermentation that converts the grapes’ sugars into alcohol — is complete, capturing the carbon dioxide inside. The lees are typically left inside the bottle resulting in a cloudy sediment and they tend to be lower in alcohol than most wines.
It’s also a less expensive way to get sparkling wines to market as the turaround from harvest to glass is much quicker than the more commonly used méthode champenoise.
To make the Jamesport wines, “the fruit has to be absolutely spotless” said Jamesport winemaker Dean Babiar. That means no rot or fungus. When they are ready, the grapes are picked and pressed extra gently.
“It’s a delicate process,” Babiar said.
The clearest pressed juice is then fermented in stainless steel for about a month, he said. The wine is bottled under crown cap before the primary fermentation process is completed, when there is still some residual sugar in the juice.
Making pétillant naturel bottles can be an inconsistent process, in part, because the decision of when to bottle is largely guided by intuition. And still fermenting bottles means taste can change from month to month.
But Babiar said he is happy with the result.
“They are light drinkable wines that quench your thirst,” Babiar said
Each bottle offers its own favorable qualities but for us the tart and fizzy albariño, an aromatic Spanish variety grown at only a handful of North Fork vineyards, was the standout.
The new labels, which instead of images or logo display adjectives describing the wine, were designed by Jamesport Vineyards chef Dan Edgett.
The wines are $29.95 each or $75 for all three. Only 100 cases of each were made, so get them before they sell out.