Sunday, 17 December 2023 16:25

Tettonica - sparkling on arrival

Written by  Stephanie McIntyre
Bec Norton and Aaron Zuccaro Bec Norton and Aaron Zuccaro

Bec Norton and Aaron Zuccaro established Tettonica with a “desire to produce wines of distinction”.

With a shared passion for wine making and hospitality, they recognised pét nat as an exciting style of wine that was catching the eye of wine drinkers and could contribute diversity to the Marlborough wine story. “We didn’t want to return to Marlborough and make another Sauv or another Pinot,” says Bec. “We wanted to launch Tettonica with a wine that was a little bit different.”

At the time of the inaugural production, Tettonica was anticipating its pét nat to be a very unique offering for New Zealand. “It turned out to be the year a number of small producers did one too,” Bec says. “It’s actually been great to see different approaches taken in terms of styles and varieties. We love seeing what our neighbours are doing and learning from each other.”

In 2016, Bec and Aaron were living in Melbourne, and began drinking more pét nat and experimenting with its production. Aaron had worked at Chandon in the Yarra Valley in his formative winemaking years and developed a firm understanding of the intricacies of sparkling wine production. Aaron also made méthode traditionelle and pét nat at his father’s Six Acres winery in the Yarra, and later produced Moscato at Giant Steps/Innocent Bystander.

“After years of trial and error, we were confident to produce our own wine when we moved back to New Zealand in 2019,” Bec says. “We have made two dramatically different styles so far. In 2021, we made a pét nat from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which was fermented via carbonic maceration. The resulting wine is very dry and savoury, more effervescent than foamy – a great aperitif.”

They found the wine to be a bit polarising so decided to blend a more approachable style the following year using Sauvignon Blanc and “a splash of Pinot Noir”, Bec says. “It’s zesty, fruity and has more fizz. It’s the style that gets and keeps people drinking pét nat.”

New Zealanders’ interest in pét nat has increased, she adds. “Six years ago, you could count the number of pét nats available on one hand, now you can often find its own section in independent wine stores. It will never compete with traditional sparkling wine in market penetration, but we are sure pét nat will appeal to a wide drinking community once they learn what they are.”

“Tettonica wines have a target audience of around the 25-55 age mark. Our rosé, as an example, appeals to a wide range of people, whereas our pét nat, generally speaking, is selling to a younger audience,” Bec says. “However, once our wines are tasted, they are pretty well received by all. It’s just a matter of sharing our story and getting our wine into people’s glasses.”

Tettonica works exclusively with organic grapes. “Marlborough has beautiful organic vineyards,” Bec says. “The combinations of varieties we can source and explore are endless. We will no doubt find our niche, though we may just keep exploring for a while. It’s a lot of fun!”

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