Pet-nat Power: Ningxia Sparkles in Shenzhen

If you predicted five years ago that dozens of pet-nats would be bubbling up in Ningxia by now, I think most people would have scoffed.

But we do, in fact, see a wide range of options of this moderately fizzy specialty coming from the region.

Grape Wall of China paired with Wine to Asia last month in Shenzhen to present more than a dozen pet-nats, and several other bubbly options, from producers such as Xiaopu, DEVO, Mountain Wave, Lige Yuanshi and Lingering Clouds.

Here are three personal highlights from that tasting with trade fair goers.

One. This sparkling Marselan from Lige Yuanshan was the breakout star. Fermented in amphora, it is unique and easy-drinking but not one-dimensional. Fresh and fruity with vibrant stone fruit character and a touch of sweetness. I could imagine guzzling a few bottles on a hot summer day.

(Lige Yuanshi also had an intriguing sparkling Vidal.)

Two. I am also a fan of Mountain Wave, which has a quirky blend of Malbec, Marselan and Pinot Noir in its vineyards. It makes single variety pet-nats for each grape variety as well as a mix of all three.

I’ve tried them all now and am leaning toward the Pinot Noir, which was also overall favorite in a China sparkling wine tasting I organized in Beijing earlier this year.

Three. The two tea-infused Chardonnays from Lingering Clouds: the frothy fruity White Peony and the more austere and drier Black Tea, both smartly balancing fruit and fizz, with enduring effervescence.

(Lingering Clouds also has Oolong, Jasmine and Longjing pet-nats, and it is impressive how distinct is each one of these wines.)

It was fun to contrast these and other pet-nats with the well-made traditional method bubbly of DEVO and — on the flip side — its semi-sweet budget-friendly cocktail-friendly bubbly with colorful labeling.

In any case, it’s incredible how fast this niche has grown and there are many Ningxia pet-nats beyond those we tasted, thus underscoring the diversity coming out of the region these days.

Thanks to all of these wineries for providing bottles for the tasting and to Wine to Asia for hosting it.

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