Petillant naturel, méthode ancestrale—wines that have just a bit of fuel left in the bottle after initial fermentation, which sparks a second fermentation, creating a spritzy, refreshing glass of what-the-fuck?! Is it still wine with a bit of fizz, or is it sparkling wine that is almost not? I know! Crazy! BUT! These are wines perfect for the summertime and a sure "in" for you at your next barbecue. Usually these wines are a variation on off-dryness, meaning some are sweeter than others. Pet' nat or méthode ancestrale wines have been made since time immemorial and are arguably the most natural wines you can drink—they involve truly allowing the wine to run wild and finish its business in the bottle, without any added sugars (because they've been bottled only partially fermented) and often with sediment left in the bottle, or maybe a bit cloudy... a sure sign that your wine has not had its legs shaved and that it stinks of patchouli. And almost every producer in this style is making wine already in a fashion that is hands-off and as natural as can be! And it works and makes sense and is your doorway into another world.
Patrick Bottex's Bugey-Cerdon la Cueille is a beautiful pale pink to purple color, jumping with prickle and a slight off-dryness. René and Agnès Mosse make a pet' nat called Moussamoussettes that is almost impossible to find but is worth the search, a veritable Holy Grail in this style of wine. Jean-Paul Brun's méthode ancestrale called FRV100 (cent is French for 100... so FRV100 equals "effervescent"... so cute!) is made from 100 percent gamay noir... incidentally, these are all rosés.
I don't know that we always appreciate this, but living in Seattle, or Portland, or San Francisco, we exist in these bubbles of overeducated, liberally political, enlightened love nests, which happens only in small, underground cells in much of the rest of this country, and WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH WINE? Simply this: There is a plethora of bomb-ass shit at our disposal, in our shops and grocery stores, found in the hinterlands of these United States only in the basements of professors at small liberal arts schools, who will only pull them out for their cabals. (You know what I'm talking about!) You don't need to be a prof to be smart, walking through the door with a couple bottles of this shit in your hands...
It is your privilege, it is your duty as a citizen to seek these out. I'm here to help. To that end, you can find these wines and other wines in this style—most in the twentysomething range and every one of them worth your dollars—at: Vif, Pike & Western, Whole Foods, PCC Natural Markets, and Madison Market.