Have you ever sat in a billy cart, on top of a hill, anticipating a bumpy and somewhat unsafe journey to the bottom? This gut wrenching feeling is somewhat similar to what Ashley and Holly experienced when crafting their Pet Nat wines. A billy cart and a Pet Nat wine are built in the same workshop! There is no owner’s manual; their success comes from much trial and error and tinkering. The early days generally ended in disaster (wheels coming off mid-race a.k.a. bottles exploding and gushing a sea of foam), all of which ended in disappointment and tears. But those days are thankfully behind them! The learning of the past has brought sophistication to the forefront. Billy carts have suspension and reliable steering, and Pet Nat wines now have a perfect fizz and delicate flavors. The 2022 Ricca Terra Skin Contact Pet Nat is a great example of the evolution of wine in Australia: more approachable, more lighthearted, more fun. Though this wine is called ‘Skin Contact’ it only sees such a phenomenon during crushing and pressing, but nothing beyond that, leaving behind a lightly skinsy wine.
The fruit was hand-harvested on the same day in March, fully destemmed and lightly crushed. It was then pumped to the press via a tube chiller, and the resulting pressed juice was pumped to tank with a small sulfur addition. The juice was allowed to settle in the tank at 4 degrees C for 3 days, after which about 5% of it was frozen to save for secondary fermentation. The remaining 95% was fermented with wild yeast until no sugar remained. The wine was racked off the lees after a few days of settling, and another tiny sulfur addition was made at this point. The wine was then kept cold at 0 degrees C, until cold stable. It was racked again to increase the clarity, and then it was fed a culture of commercial yeast, juice, wine, and the balance of juice to bring the wine to 12 g/L sugar. At this point the wine was bottled and the sugar was fermented in the bottle over two weeks until dry and at 3 bars of pressure. No fining, filtering, or disgorgement.