Published Jeremy. Last Updated on January 28, 2022.
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Before discussing Cave Ridge's Pet Nat, Le Bon Minou, we should take a step back and make a special note of the winery itself.
I was fortunate enough to visit Cave Ridge in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia on a trip and found it to be one of the most beautiful wineries in Shenandoah. The ambiance was so nice, in fact, that I stuck around for an extra glass of wine after my flight simply to soak up the view, which, as luck would have it, ended up being the Le Bon Minou Pet Nat- of which I naturally bought a bottle.
So while this winery is indeed quite remote, even by Shenandoah standards (I later sent my brother, particularly for another Pet Nat bottle, and his only reply once there was “how did you find this place?!”). Yes, it is that remote.
But those making the trek to this particular vineyard will love it for the views, but you'll want to stay for another to try the Le Bon Minou if it is not available in a flight.
Cave Ridge's Le Bon Minou is the Perfect Pet Nat
Details on Le Bon Minou are hard to come by. Virtually every source out there simply says it is Pet Nat and that is that. No grape information is present, and you'll hardly find any reviews online either, which is also odd especially considering it has won awards in the past. I had to follow up directly with the winery to find out this one is a Chardonnay/Traminette blend at all!
All that we can say for sure is that this sparkling wine was bottled during the initial fermentation, which means that the wine when poured is slightly bubbly (thanks to fermentation continuing in the bottle), unfiltered, and may have some bit of sediment worth noting as well.
This pet nat was medium lemon in color and had sufficient haze and light bubbles.
On the nose, the pet nat had medium aromas of peach, apricot, lime, peach ring candies, lemon curd, blossom, cream cheese, yogurt, and was youthful. You can really tell the lees aging on this one (since the yeast is still in the bottle), but we suspect that this one could change significantly depending on when it was bottle. As it is branded Non Vintage, we simply don't know.
On the palate, it was dry with high acidity, medium alcohol, body, flavor and intensity, delicate mousse, and had notes of lemon, curd, yogurt, lime, grapefruit pith, and peach with a medium- finish. Perhaps a bit less complex than on the nose, especially with the less components, but ended up being wonderfully balanced all the same.
For food pairings, we have to admit we opted to drink this pet nat straight without any food. Give us a hot summer day and this bottle will disappear in a hurry- it truly is a thirst quencher.
But because this one drinks more like a traditional sparkling wine and less like a wild ferment like you'd expect with some pet nats, we really think you have a wide list of pairing options here as a solid sparkling wine really does go with everything.
Score: 4 / 5
We'd buy another bottle of this one.
When it comes down to it, Le Bon Minou may have been my favorite wine of all I tried while exploring Shenandoah. The flavors were delightful and the extra characteristics imparted from the production technique added some nice complexity without being overbearing. For that, we'll always pick up a bottle whenever we (or family) pass through.
Cave Ridge Vineyard is located at 1476 Conicville Road in Mount Jackson, Virginia. I visited in 2021 and enjoyed this bottle shortly after returning home.