‘Do you have any orange wines?’ was not a question we heard when I started at Smith & Vine ten years ago, but now, at OAKLAND YARD, we get the request with frequency. The enquirer does not seek a wine made from oranges, rather they want a white wine made with ‘skin contact’, or maceration on its must - the seeds, skins and sometimes stems – a process normally reserved for red wine production, but traditional for whites in parts of northern Italy and eastern Europe.
Time on the skins leeches pigment, inducing in the juice a hazy amber glow, and so the wines are now commonly referred to as orange wines. For a long time, there were only a handful of expensive examples readily available, from Josko Gravner and Stanko Radikon in Friuli, Ales Kristancic’s Movia in Slovenia, Giampero Bea in Umbria, and La Stoppa in Emilia-Romagna, and to the uninitiated, most of these – especially the Friulians – are unfriendly, difficult wines, surely an acquired taste for most.
Whites made with skin contact tend to be fuller bodied in the mouth and more textural than their traditional free-run counterparts, with a chewy, astringent quality from the added tannin that makes them excellent food pairing wines. Nowadays, more of these wines are being brought into the US, the selection and price range has increased, and many American winemakers are experimenting with the style, raising exposure to a point where ‘orange’ has taken a place beside red, white, and rosé.
Come taste three skin-fermented whites this SUNDAY from 2 to 6pm - $15
But first…TONIGHT: THURSDAY NIGHT FLIGHTS! Whites from France and an all Cabernet Red Flight. 4 to 8pm - $12
And this SATURDAY: Special guest, Ben Stewart, from Bonhomie Wine Imports pours tasting flights from 2 to 5pm. 3 wines, $12
Orange you glad I didn’t say ‘banana wine’?