The future is bright, the future is ‘orange’ wine
Posted on August 17 2020
You must have noticed how predicting the future has become a whole lot more difficult recently. Can anyone tell me if I can travel to Manchester to visit my son next week? Well, I do predict you are going to see and drink a lot more ‘orange’ wine before you receive your coronavirus vaccination.
If you have not heard of ‘orange’ wine, do not worry - nor had I until a few years ago.
‘Orange’ wine is basically a white wine made like a red wine. White grapes are fermented on their skins rather than simply being pressed and a water-white juice runs off. I am not a wine maker, nor a scientist, but to my palate, a white wine made with skin contact gives it an orange hue, a grippy tannic structure (like red wine) and enhances the aromatic compounds. All this means they become an ideal pairing with dishes that you may have married with a red wine previously.
‘Orange’ wine is inextricably linked to hipster ‘natural wine’ fashionistas. It is at an embryonic stage in its development as a modern product, right? Well… no. Whilst the wheels of the modern ‘orange’ wine revolution have been gaining traction, it was actually first made over 8,000 years ago. That is before the wheel was even invented! The Georgians claim the prize of having made ‘orange’ wines longer than anyone else, fermenting and aging them in egg-shaped terracotta amphora known as Qvevri (pronounced kway-vree) which they sometimes buried in the ground. Nothing was added or taken away from these wines; they were as authentic as they come… and they still are.
If you are new to ‘orange’ wine then we have several ‘Goldilocks’ skin-contact wine for you to begin your journey: their robust tannins and food-friendly characteristics are ‘just right’.
Not one for the South African winemaking police, Craig Hawkins’s labels say his wines are ‘made from grapes’! His naturally-made, organic Swartland Chenin Blanc called ‘El Bandito’ is fascinating and Craig has achieved the perfect balance with just an eight-day skin maceration giving it a racy, elegant, savoury, subtle texture.
Japan’s Chateau Mercian Gris de Gris has spent three weeks on the skins though you would not know it as it gives a respectful bow to the ‘orange’ wine movement. The indigenous pink-skinned Koshu grape delivers a coppery, cerise hue, well-integrated soft tannins and a perfectly balanced fruit combination of apple compote and juicy peach.
Domaine Bohn’s Schieferberg Zero (sulphur) is for the fan girl or fan boy and takes ‘orange’ wine to another level. This extraordinary Alsacian wine is a blend of Pinot Gris and Riesling and is given four weeks on skins. The deep orange colour is a signal of its nailed-on tannic grip and aromas of tomato leaf, celery stick and quince are further elevated by bright acidity and an electric minerality