The Cork Report and Liten Buffel Announce New Collaboration, a Natural Vinifera-Hybrid Blend Orange Pet-Nat in a Can

Seven years ago, back when I was running the New York Cork Report, I did a collaboration beer with my friend Paul at Blind Bat Brewing. It’s been a long time coming, but today I’m beyond excited to announce a new collaboration, this time with natural wine producer Liten Buffel on the Niagara Escarpment AVA in western New York.

I’m not a huge natural wine guy – the label of any wine as “natural” is problematic for me – but in talking with winemaker and co-owner Zack Klug during harvest, we wanted to capitalize on today’s market and make a small lot of highly allocated, exclusive, hand-made, artisanal, craft wine.

We’re calling it Sunkist, and it’s an orange wine made using a blend of Marsanne and Delaware made via method ancestral – also known as petillant naturel or pet-nat – and packaged in 375ml cans.

The grapes for this wonderful orange skin-fermented pet-nat are sourced only from the most pristine vineyards across the East Coast. Our vineyard sources are so perfect that they don’t require human intervention of any kind. This isn’t low-intervention viticulture – this is no-intervention viticulture. And that was the goal from the beginning – to find the right grapes grown in the right place by the right people to make this wine without any additions whatsoever.

“We wouldn’t have added grapes if we didn’t have to to make wine,” says Klug.

Only the ripest berries were hand selected, by the hands of Pennsylvanian monks, and always before dawn. We kept yields extremely low – never more than five berries per vine.

We then gently smoked the grapes over a bed of sage and last year’s pomace. Each individual berry was crushed, by foot, by orphans – and only at night. Usually between 11:14 and 11:28 p.m.

In the end, we made a just two six-packs of this unicorn wine that is perfect for today’s global wine market.

Natural wine? Check.

Orange wine? Check.

Pet-nat? Check.

In a can? Check.

Our only regret is that we couldn’t make this wine both orange and a dry rose.

Out of the gate, we’re selling each can for $68 wholesale. After saving a few cans for natural wine gatekeepers who will tell us it’s not natural enough because some of our orphans weren’t virgins, this will be exceedingly highly allocated with only 9 individual cans available for the rest of the world market.

Bobby Stuckey has signed on as our brand ambassador, so we don’t expect these cans to last long.

So what does it taste like?

It tastes like a memory you had in a dream from your childhood when you were 10 or 15. Where you danced in a German forest with apple cider vinegar-soaked nymphs, sprites made of nutty cave cheese and lime curd, and stayed warm next to a raging fire of burning pine mouse nest.

Zack recommends drinking it “Right from the can – so you can’t see that half of it is lees.”

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