Thursday, February 17, 2011
What’s orange wine?
Ever since I discovered that Claude Bosi of Hibiscus had an orange wine list I’ve been dying to dip into it - and yesterday I got the chance at lunch with Isabelle Legeron the restaurant's wine consultant (a feast you can read about here)
Somewhat embarrassingly I discover that it’s been all the rage in the states for a couple of years as this unusually succinct and well-informed entry and footnotes in Wikipedia indicate.
Top US wine writers Jon Bonné of the San Francisco Chronicle and Eric Asimov of the New York Times have both written great pieces on it which I’d urge you to read if you want to understand it better but to put it in a nutshell orange wine is a white wine made with long skin maceration which leaches out the colour of the grape skins and results in a salmon- or orange-coloured wine. It’s nothing new. The Georgians have been making orange wine for centuries.
The one I tried was Josko Gravner’s Ribolla 2002 (top right) from Venezia Giula. The Italians seem to be particularly into orange wine and Gravner who originally comes from neighbouring Slovenia is one of their high priests.
To tell the truth although I found it interesting I wasn’t totally blown away - it was attractive with some appealing quince fruit and an intriguing touch of nuttiness but paled in comparison with the amazing Les Jardins d’Esmeraldins, Genèse 2001 (top left) a simply stunning dry Chenin which the producer apparently keeps in oak for 5-6 years. 2001 is the current release!
Confusingly it is also orange which goes to show there’s orange and orange . . .
. . . and orange if you want to create your own with the clever iPhone app Colorsplash (taken at Brawn).
* It makes me feel slightly better that the great Jancis Robinson hasn’t currently got orange wine in her Oxford Companion. Not just me then.