Brut Nature – Perfect for a “Dry January”!

We’re now halfway through “Dry January” so we Sparkling Winos decided to dedicate a blog post to the “driest” of all sparkling wine styles: Brut Nature! 😊🍾

“Brut Nature” (also called Zero Dosage, Brut Zero or Non-Dosé) is used to indicate the driest style of sparkling wine, with no sugar added. “Residual sugar” refers to the natural sugar left in wine after the alcoholic fermentation is completed. Brut Nature wines typically contain 3 grams or less per litre (that’s 2.25 grams or less per 750 ml bottle). As a comparative, a packet of sugar that you’d add to your coffee contains 4 grams.

When a Champagne, Cava or any other traditional method sparkling wine is produced, it is given a dosage (a mixture of sugar and wine) before bottling to establish the desired sweetness level. Brut Nature sparkling wines do not add any additional sugar during this process, making them the driest bubbles you can get! For more on the fermentation process and the addition of sugar in sparkling winemaking, click here.

But does anyone regulate sweetness levels?

According to “Commission Regulation (EC) No 607/2009” – or, more simply, a directive on labelling and presenting certain wine products published by the Official Journal of the European Union – as of 14 July 2009, the “sweetness” scale of sparkling wines are set out as follows:

Brut Nature (0–3 g/L)
Extra Brut (0–6 g/L)
Brut (0–12 g/L)
Extra-Sec (12–20 g/L)
Sec (17–35 g/L)
Demi-sec (33–50 g/L)
Doux (50+ g/L)

As you can see, Brut Nature is very constrained in terms of the amount of residual sugars allowed, while other styles have a bit more room to play with. Some people believe that terrior is most evidently expressed in a Brut Nature wine. And while we love a good Brut Nature, we aren’t sure if we completely agree. Driest doesn’t always mean best in the wine world!

So what does a Brut Nature sparkling taste like?

Well, for one thing, the dosage (used to establish the sweetness level of a wine) also helps to balance out its acidity. Sparkling wine tends to be highly acidic and so the dosage helps to reduce that mouth puckering tartness and rounds out the wine. A Brut Nature sparkling wine will be very crisp and dry, but depending on the terroir and wine making processes, the aroma, flavour and mouthfeel will vary.

We had our first Brut Nature sparkling wine in the Penedes Region of Catalonia, Spain in 2011 where it’s quite popular among the locals. We really enjoyed it, and when paired with the right food, it was a perfectly refreshing treat in the Spanish summer heat.

Brut Nature has also gained a following in Champagne, with houses like Roederer, Tarlant, and Drappier all producing such wines. We can also confirm that the Tarlant Zero (from the 2008 harvest) was beautifully chalky with a wonderful citrus finish. We look forward to reviewing a few Brut Nature bottles that we have in our repertoire in the coming year, as we transition out of “Dry January”! 😆

Have you had a Brut Zero? Let us know what you think!