WTF is TBD?
We're Larissa and Sarah, formerly of Surlie Collections. After a great run with Surlie, we started TBD in Spring 2021 as the next phase of our entrepreneurial natural wine journey. Our goal is to introduce people to amazing unique wines and winemakers via our club, which ships 3 bottles of wine every 3 months along with tasting guides and other great content.
TBD started as a placeholder name: To Be Determined… but it's grown on us as a more permanent name. We think it's apropos given this special category of wine - read below to learn why it’s To Be Determined how each bottle will turn out
What is Pet Nat? And why is it special?
Pet Nat is short for Petilliant Naturel, literally "natural sparkling" in French. It refers to an old school method (Méthode Ancestrale) for producing bubbly, in contrast to Méthode Traditionnelle (Traditional Method used to make Champagne) and the Charmat Method (Tank Method used to make Prosecco and Cava). A few noteworthy characteristics include:
- Made with organic or biodynamic grapes
- Fermented with indigenous, wild yeasts
- Vinified minimal or no additives and stabilizers
Below are some excerpts from some of our favorite articles describing this magical wine:
Imagine Champagne without the pretense or the price and you’ve got the wine of the moment: pétillant naturel. Literally, “naturally sparkling,” it’s abbreviated to pét-nat to make it even more adorable. Yes, it has “natural” in its name, which is enough right there to make it buzzy, but everything about this lightweight, fizzy drink quenches the modern thirst for authentic, handmade, unadorned wine...It’s the ultimate in lo-fi winemaking, conjuring images of ruddy French farmers in grimy blue coveralls filling bottles by hand.
You can’t quite predict what you’re getting. And that’s part of the point. “It’s so fresh and alive,” Armstrong-Foster enthuses. The refreshing, spontaneous style is just the thing for summer.
It’s an easygoing wine that winemakers drink while making their more serious wines. “It’s unpretentious and not meant to be taken that seriously,” says Dressner, “which coincides with overall shifts in attitude and wine consumption.” It’s a very noncorporate, small-production, craft product."
The ancient method produces a simpler, more rustic sparkler than Champagne, one that is traditionally cloudy, unfiltered, and often bottled with a crown cap (like a beer) rather than a cork. The end product is also unpredictable: Opening each bottle is a surprise, evocative of the time and place where it was bottled.
At Oakland, California’s Ordinaire, a shop and wine bar specializing in natural wines from the state, wine director Quinn Kimsey-White says pét-nat is an opportunity to show off the whimsical side of winemaking. “In its best and purest form, pét-nat is unpredictable, extroverted, and pleasing. It can also reveal a winemaker's more playful side, which at the shop helps us present a more colorful picture of their approach and personality.”