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I should dispel at the outset the myth that oranges are used in their production. These are wines made from white grapes and have an orange or peachy colour due to the methods used in their making.
In a case of what’s old is new again, Orange wines draw from the ancient winemaking style common to Georgia, in Eastern Europe, where the juice from the white grapes, skins, stalks, and pips are placed into clay amphoras called queveri, partly buried underground.
The lids are sealed and the wine remains in contact with the skins, stalks etc for a period ranging from a few weeks to several months.
In essence, this is using red winemaking techniques on white grapes, so the finished wines pick up colour and phenolics from the skins while deriving tannins from the stalks and pips. This leads to radically different textures in the wines, with a notably grainy, chewy mouth-feel and tannic structure making them particularly suited as an accompaniment to food.
Winemakers use this wine style as a vehicle for their natural wines, eschewing additives, sulphur, fining and filtration, which can lead to the finished wines being cloudy due to retained sediment.
However, this is not de rigeur. Many winemakers use just a little skin contact of a few days or a week, as they like the extra textural component this gives, but finish and bottle the wine more traditionally.
Take a walk down a very different path.
The Death of von Tempsky
100% riesling. Perfume flows from the glass — fruit blossom, apple, citrus rind, nuts, tanginess. Volume in the mouth with preserved
lemon, apple, nectarine, just ripe greengage plum, a little fungi hint with time. The tannins and phenolics give real chewiness that is
great with food, while there’s underlying freshness and brightness with its long, citrus driven finish. Delicious.
2014 Weaver Estate
Skin to Skin Orange
A blend of pinot gris and pinot blanc. Fragrant nose of ripe stonefruits, apricot, pear, nutty nuances, spice and toffee. The palate adds
quince jelly, dry honey, and oak elements with richness and weight, a sense of florality on the back palate. Crisp, bright acidity, a vein
of freshness, the structure supple now with some bottle age and a sweet fruit core on the close. Fascinating.
100% sauvignon blanc. A savoury undercurrent with preserved lemon, wild herbs, lemon and blood orange. Brim full of flavour with
fruit pastille, poached pears, racy herbaceousness and a honeyed hint. Ripe gooseberry joins the party as it flows to a vibrant pear,
honey and green herb driven close. A light grainy touch, yet supple and creamy. Charts a new course for sav blanc.