Orange wine time


Didn’t wine drinking use to be simple, back in the day? There was white wine, red wine and, if
you were feeling risqué, a drop of rose. White worked with fish, red with meat and rose was for
that rare summers-day moment. Then came postmodernism, bringing with it the rule of reason:
pair light wine with simple food, heavier and more complex wines with richer dishes.And then, just
when we though we’d got it all settled, orange wines burst onto the scene and all hell broke loose.So what are they, really? Orange wines are made from white grapes vinified just like red ones. This
means that the whole grape is used (skin and flesh) during the winemaking process, and as opposed
to traditional white wine-making the skins macerate with the juice. This results in a wine with a
rich, more complex and sometime tannic taste which is, also, orange in colour. They are great with
fish, fantastic with meat and make for the perfect winter-warming drink. There are no certainties
any more: how things have changed!

Orange wines have, however, been around much longer than we might think. In the region of
Kakheti, Eastern Georgia (AKA the oldest wine region in the world), the monks of the Alaverdi
Monastery Cellar have been making it for thousands of years. The modern era of orange wine
started in 2000 when an eccentric wine producer in northern Italy, named Josko Gravner, adopted
the ancient Georgian wine-making techniques to produce Italy's first orange wine.

In 2002 Elena Pantaleoni, owner and winemaker at La Stoppa in Emilia Romana, decided to
produce a very special wine, named after the founder of the estate, Mr Ageno. She soon discovered
that the local Malvasia di Candia and Urtrugo grapes were especially suited for orange wine-making
and yielded wines of great complexity and elegance. Now, in its 5th vintage, the Ageno from La
Stoppa is Italy's benchmark orange wine, sold in the world’s best restaurants and appreciated by
wine-lovers worldwide.

One of the latest additions to the world of orange wine is the Baccabianca from Tenuta Grillo. Made
by a husband and wife team, they use only organically-grown Cortese grapes (normally used the
produce Gavi di Gavi) from low yielding vines. The juice is then left to macerate with the skins for
45 days to create an unusual wine that combines an intense fruity flavour with spice and a touch of

Whilst dividing opinions and all very different in taste, there is little doubt that orange wines are
one of the most exciting wine trends of recent years. If you’re after a wine to challenge your taste
buds and warm your wintery nights then it’s time to have some orange wine fun.


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