50 Shades of Orange: Skin Contact Feels Good

Orange wine made by ducks.


Orange wine. Skin contact. Maceration...these may sound like the dirty words of the wine world but they aren't. If you're a long time (has it been that long already?) addict of orange wine you already know what we are talking about.  If you think orange wine is made with oranges then you need to come to this tasting. 

"Orange wine", which isn't in any of the WSET wine program manuals for being a perfectionist wine sommelier, really is a step into the past. Before refrigeration, sulfur, de-stemmers, et al,  'white wine' was made the same way as red wine, by leaving the juice in contact with the skins (this is the maceration phase) before, during and even after the fermentation occurred.  The wines took on polyphenols, tannins and the gentle amber color associated with this oxidative production method. The wines also lasted longer despite not being refrigerated or heavily dosed with SO2. 

Today a few bold producers are harkening back to these more rustic methods of winemaking and the result is what the wine geeks and hipsters call 'orange wine'.

Trends in the wine world come and go but what ends up sticking around are the wines that really matter; wines that are interesting to drink and lend to endless discovery.  Orange wine is here to stay, unlike those incessant pumpkin chai lattes, those can go. 

This must be our 100th annual Orange Wine Tasting by now, but it has never been more interesting.  Plus, hey, it's October so it works. Don't miss this one and take advantage of the discounts tonight, because orange wines ain't cheap or easy to find.


Orange Wine Part 73.2, this time it's personal:.


Angiolino Maule, Masieri, Veneto, Italy $18

Angiolino Maule is in some ways the Godfather of Italian Natural Wine as we know it. He and Paolo Bea founded a group of like-minded naturalist back in 1996 with four members.  They are today estranged friends but fight the good fight in their own individual ways. The Masieri is one of the few wines in the pantheon of Italian orange wine and a gentile introduction to both one of the greatest winemakers in Italy and the genre in general.  Garganega, trebbiano and nothing else.  Anfora's?  Who told you that?


Antica Masseria Venditti, Sannio Bianco, Campania, Italy $20

This is a wine that truly flies under the radar but deserves much more attention.  Italy's south has ancient winemaking roots, literally and figuratively.  It was here that the first Greeks introduced winemaking practices like using anfora's and skin contact back in the ancient times.  Today this small family winery is quietly inserting themselves into the upper echelon of southern Italian natural wine.  Greico and cerretto grapes with 6 days on the skins.


Az. Agr. Tanganelli, Anatrino, Castiglion Fiorentino, Tuscany $25

Marco Tanganelli is one of the most well respected viticulturist in Tuscany.  His expertise extends into his own tiny 3 hectare plot where he take trebbiano to unparalleled levels.  This is the very old vine bottling and sees 4 days of of skin contact before aging in cement and old botti.  Proof that trebbiano is Italy's greatest grape variety.  It also has a duck on the label.


Jean-Yves Peron, Le Petite Robe, Savoie, France $30

Peron's wines are always a wild ride.  His small farm in the Alps has an amazing diversity of wildlife and soil types, each adding complexity to his already mind bending wines.  This is his 'white' wine made from altesse and jacquer in a cement egg and old barrels. Herbs, sunshine, mountain frost...that's what it's like. Thanks Zev!


Sabestien Riffault, Sancerre 'Akmenime', Loire, France $35

The young and talented Sabestien Riffault is making our favorite Sancerre's at the moment.  His wines both speak of the elemental terroir that his vineyards have to offer as well as his own personal interpretation that is completely unique.  For those who love his more classic Quarterons cuvee this will take that and bend it around your brain a couple times.  Exceptionally good.


Collecapretta, Buscaia, Terzo la Pieve, Umbria $45

So much to say about this producer, so little space and time.  Simply put, we believe that Collecapretta can stand in the company of few others in the Italian wine world.  Their work is unparalleled in the vineyard, their production is on little more then a familial scale and their wines are so rooted in their rugged, high altitude place that only a hint of their ever present 'house style' shines through in each of their magical wines.  This is their malvasia based bianco called Buscaia.  10 days on the skins, de-stemmed by hand, aged in cement, zero sulfur. Certainly amongst the greats, yet so few people known the secret, discover it.

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