So what is “orange” wine? Put simply it is vinifying white grapes in a similar way to making red wine, with the fermenting juice spending time macerating in contact with grape skins. The result is an intriguing white wine, that is gaining popularity and it is certainly different. Hence, Orange is the new White!
The origin of “Orange” wine
This traditional method comes from Georgia, where there is evidence of this wine-making method dating back to 6000BC. All the juice, skins, pips and stems being placed into large egg shaped clay jars, lined with beeswax and buried in the ground. The earth supports the jars and keeps them cool and the fermentation process proceeds naturally for months.
From the late 1990s there has been a revival in this ancient method, notably in Georgia where they also call their wines Qveri (the Georgian word for Amphora vessels). Some countries prefer the word “amber” to avoid confusion. This style of wine is now made across the world from Northern Italy where it is called Ramato, to Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, SW France, Spain, South Africa, Australia, Canada, and even England.
Today, winemakers, make a choice whether to include stems and also seeds (which can be bitter). or not. Frequently, winemakers choose to allow spontaneous fermentation – so no added yeasts. There are also no sulphites used until the bottling process. It is very important that grapes are ripe and healthy because this method will emphasise any unripe, stalky tannins or mouldy characteristics.
How does it look and taste?
As pictured above the wine can vary from cloudy lemon to dark amber. Although much will depend on both the grape varietals and time spent on the skins, you should expect a more intense flavour profile. It may not be so fruity but it is likely to be textured and layered, often with notes of dried fruit, herbs and spices. Typically there are aromas of stone fruit, iced tea and in impression of honey without being sweet. There is far less intervention in the making of these natural wines, with no filtration, hence they tend to be cloudy in appearance.
A good example of an “Orange” wine
The high altitude vineyards of Bodegas Altolandon in Manchuela, Spain are perfectly situated to make this style of wine. Roselia Molina and her husband Manolo grow organic grapes and use clay Amphoras in most of their wine production processes. They have recently produced their first “orange” or “amber” wine. It is fermented spontaneously on the skins in 1000 litre Amphoras, with no added sulphites and it cold stabilised during the coldest months when temperatures can drop to well below freezing.
The result is a delicious, intriguing dry white wine Enblanco de Altolandon, made from Garnacha Blanca and Garnacha Gris and you can find it in The Wine Shop! We agree, Orange is the new White!.