Orange Wine - The Natural Choice
The rise in popularity of orange wines is, in part, a welcome result of the rise in eco-friendly winemaking - whether organic, vegan, natural. Many modern orange wines are not only great for the environment, but great for the taste buds too! We explore our exciting range from historic traditional Georgian to modern West European, and everything in between.
WHAT IS ORANGE WINE?
The title 'Orange Wine' denotes a white wine that, rather than produced using just pressed juice, has had maceration and/or fermentation in contact with the grape skins. To look at how these wines were first crafted, we turn to Georgia - the historical home of wine with numerous sites of ancient winemaking with protected status from UNESCO.
Georgia continues its tradition of fermentation of orange wines in Qvevri (large clay vessels) that are buried underground. The wine juice is left in contact with skins, and often stems, for varying periods of time. This creates fuller bodied wines of orange-amber colour showing ripe/stewed fruit, prominent florals, occasionally deep honey, and lots of tannins that are usually more prevalent in red wines. The more traditional wine styles will tend to be robust and powerful, able to stand up to big flavours when food pairing.
Even lighter examples of orange wine are great pairings for rich dishes that would usually suit a red. Orange wines are a good choice for spicy or barbecue cuisine when trying to select a white wine that won't be overpowered.
TRADITIONAL EXAMPLESTbilvino Rkatsiteli Qvevri uses the Qvevri fermentation method with the Rkatsiteli grape - the most popular white grape in Georgia also used widely across Eastern Europe. The wine is not pressed off the skins until 6 months after primary fermentation, creating a wine with deep and rich aromas of pine, pear and quince, and flavours of quince, apple and stewed fruit.
Dugladze Qvevri hails from the Tibaani micro-zone in the Kakheti region, considered to be perfect for the traditional Kahetian orange wines. Rkatsiteli grapes are pressed with their stems into the Qvevri and kneaded 3 times a day as it ferments. Once fermented, the wine remains in the skins until the following February / March. This creates a wine with aromas of sugared hazelnut, dried apple and herbal notes, and a palate blending strength and elegance.
Libera Estate Keratsuda is a stunning orange wine using 100% Keratsuda, an indigenous white variety native to the Struma Valley of Bulgaria. Fermentation takes place with grape skins for a total 50 days prior to unfiltered bottling. This wine is dark golden in appearance with nuances of amber and shows typical Keratsuda aromas of pear, apricot and white flowers. The medium palate is surprisingly fresh alongside the pronounced tannins.
Today, more and more winemakers from across Europe are using elements of the method to create a versatile range of orange wines . In fact, some wines may not even show an orange-amber appearance due to minimal skin contact or the use of pink/red grapes that bring similar colour but, in terms of production and taste, sit in the white wine category as an orange wine.
All of our modern orange wines are part of the movement striving to have environmentally-friendly footprints. Usually Organic and/or Vegan, most have such little intervention or additions that they can be classed as Natural.
Romania's Solara produce one of our most popular organic/vegan orange wines that is naturally fermented, leaving the grape skins and seeds in contact with the pressed juice for a short time without addition of yeasts or sulphur. Made with a blend of native and international grape varieties, it shows an orange-hued finish that retains the full refreshment of a white. The nose is a delicate mix of candied apricots, quince, ripe apple and a hint of vanilla, whilst the palate brings discrete flavours of stone fruits, backed up with soft tannin structure and a long, mineral finish.
Fabrizio Vella creates another of our easy-drinking organic/vegan natural wines that, although not using direct skin contact for fermentation, shows real orange wine character from its natural creation. As a passionate Sicilian winemaker, Fabrizio's natural wines celebrate native grapes. This wine uses hand harvested Cataratto with a first pressing fermented in acacia wooden barrels, before the second pressing is fermentation in stainless steel. The complex nose of citrus fruit, lemon zest and citrus blossoms is layered with tropical fruits, herbs and sweet spices. Fresh, crisp and lovely minerality on the finish makes this an excellently balanced wine.
Funkstiile Skin Contact is part of an Austrian range of vegan-friendly wines from their energy neutral winery. The juice of early morning harvested Riesling, Gruner Veltliner and Muscat grapes is left in brief contact with skins before fermentation in stainless steel. 8 weeks of lees contact and 50% spending 6 months in French oak results in a truly delightful blend of yellow-orange appearance. The bouquet and palate offer up notes of ginger, white pepper and flowers, with underlying green tea and mandarin. The palate shows fabulous razor like acidity balancing the gentle tannic grip from the skins, alongside generous stone and orchard fruit with every mouthful.
Organic and Biodynamic winery Altolandon sits in Manchuela DOC of Spain's La Mancha wine region. They consistently push boundaries, keeping production as natural as possible with spontaneous fermentation on the skins in clay amphora, wood or steel, and no added sulphites. All wines are also vegan friendly.
Altolandon EnBlanco blends white grape Garnacha Blanca with pink-hued Garnacha Gris for a wine of orange-pink colour. The elegant nose shows sweet aromas of stone fruits, mineral and anise, supported by apricot, mirabelle plum and citrus notes. Full and well rounded on the palate with plenty of weight, yet still elegant, lively and light in body. Altolandon EnRosado uses grapes from young Grenache Gris vines with brief skin contact for pale pink appearance. Aromas of apricot and yellow plum are complemented by delicate citrus and touches of red fruit. Star anise spice develops on the palate, with a full, well-rounded mouth feel and bright mineral texture.
Finally, Celler de Capcanes Cap Sentit is one of our newest additions; an organic and vegan Catalunya wine created using Garnacha Blanca grapes. Extended skin contact during vinification includes a 15 day maceration on skins, with fermentation in stainless steel and light pressing afterwards. The wine is then aged on its lees before light fining and bottling. A wine of intense golden appearance with amber reflections, the nose is reminiscent of ripe peach, apricot and floral notes. The medium to full palate displays orchard fruit characters, fine tannic structure and perfectly poised acidity.