Orange Wines: Are They Authentic, Or Just a Fad?

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  • By Chris Costales
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Orange Wines:  Are They Authentic, Or Just a Fad?

Using some of the oldest techniques in winemaking, orange wines are certainly interesting, but the debate rages on: are they good wines? We are about to find out.

We have a fun wine tasting event in September that you’re not going to want to miss.  We've scheduled our first-ever “Orange” Wines Tasting on Thursday September 26th from 4:30 to 6:45 for $15.  These wines are quickly becoming a hot trend within the natural wine movement, but the processes used in their production are some of the oldest techniques known to winemakers.

 

For a quick overview, an “orange” wine is a term used for a white wine that has seen extended contact with its grape skins and seeds--basically the way you would make a red wine but with white grapes.  This often creates an orange hue to the wine along with a textural componet you experience in the mouthfeel of the wine.

 

The amount of time the skins are left in contact, as well as what grape varieties are used can vary, but Pinot Grigio has a long history of being made in this way in the northeastern regions of Italy.  Here they call this wine style a “Ramato” due to the cooper hue the Pinot Grigio imparts.  

 

Giornata, a producer here in Paso Robles, goes a step further into the past and ferments the wine in clay terra cotta vessels called amphorae, an ancient technique most often associated with the wines from Georgia (where the clay pots are called Qvevris), a tiny country bordering Armenia.  This fun wine shines with a pinkish cooper hue along with a salty and dried herb element that is picked up from the clay amphora. If you have never tried these “orange” wines before or just love wines made in this style make sure to stop by the store and experience these fun unique wines and enjoy the tasting.

Qvevris in the Republic of Georgia

 

FIELD RECORDINGS 2018 WHITE BLEND  "SKINS" CENTRAL COAST

 

This delicious “orange wine” is a blend of 40% Chenin Blanc, 25% Pinot Gris, 25% Riesling and 10% Verdelho. The grapes are destemmed and left to integrate with the wine for a few weeks turning it a shade of Valencia orange and imparting increased tannins and aromatics. This allows the winemaker to hold off on adding extra Sulphur to preserve the wine. Sourced from vineyards throughout the central coast that winemaker Andrew Jones feels will soon be famous due to their untapped potential. An affordable aromatic wine that has apricot and tangy citrus flavors. A light chill works best here paired with shellfish or pork.

$17.99 per bottle

 

Union Sacre 2018 Gequrztraminer "Bell de Nuit" Central Coast, California

 

Gewurztraminer is a tough grape to grow and make wine from but our friends at Union Sacre have captured all the wonderful things like the amazing floral intensity while avoiding the overly rich and oily texture it can have. The spice notes that Gewurztraminer is known for has been preserved here along with delicious peach and pear flavors. Although the fruit is ripe the wine has a clean crisp and dry finish. Grapes were grown in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA in Monterey County in limestone marl soil. The cold nights and foggy mornings here help to preserve grape acidity, so important in these potentially full-bodied wines. Grapes are 100% destemmed then soaked with skin contact to extract extra flavors and the light pink tone in this wine's color. Gewurztraminer grapes are white, but their skins can have a pinkish hue, especially when ripe.

$14.99 per bottle

 

GIORNATA 2018 RAMATO Pinot Grigio, PASO ROBLEs

 

If you’re searching for a “natural wine” look no further as this Italian grape has undergone no additions or filtering at the winery. The fruit source is from Bassi Ranch in Avila Beach, located just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean. After harvesting the fruit is destemmed and placed in unlined terra-cotta amphora for an extended maceration of 180 days. It is here that the wine receives its copper like color as the white wine is fermented on its skins with native yeasts. The wine will continue to age in the same clay container for around 8 months until bottling, imparting a salty mineral quality along with slight savory earthy geranium notes. Honeydew melon, green strawberry, rose petal and citrus flavors and aromas are found in this “orange wine.” Hand bottled unfined and unfiltered.

$22.99 per bottle

 

ROBERT SINSKEY 2014 PINOT GRIS "RAMATO ORGIA", CARNEROS

 

That beautiful copper hue that you’ll notice once you open this bottle is from allowing the Pinot Gris to ferment on its skins with native yeasts. This imparts a mineral texture with citrus fruits of tangy kumquat and rose petal and orange blossom aromatics. Sinskey wines are made from estate vineyards that are farmed organically and Biodynamic without the use of herbicides and with “living tractors,” aka sheep, that mow cover crops and provide natural compost material. 800 cases made, unfined & unfiltered.

$44.99 per bottle

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