Continuing my travels around Panther Creek’s estate vineyards. Today’s stop is the De Ponte Vineyard—doesn’t the name just sound fancy? Trust me, the taste doesn’t disappoint those expectations. Before you read on, make sure you’ve read about the winery’s other single estate bottlings: Maverick, Kalita, and Lazy River. And don’t forget to check out this super fun Pinot Noir-Chardonnay white wine blend. (I know, right?)
Also, don’t judge me, yes that is pizza in the background. Again.
Let’s talk about orange wines for a second. Orange wines are wines made from white wine grapes through a similar process as red wines are typically made. Instead of immediately pressing the white grapes to separate skin from juices, thereby making a white wine, the skins are left on during the fermentation process and, often, for a bit of post-fermentation maceration (ie: additional skin contact time). It’s the oxidative effect—oxygen’s influence on the grape skin compounds—that turn the wine it’s notable orange-y color. Resulting wines are typically dry with notes of phenolic bitterness and a slight tannic texture. Flavors will vary depending on the grape variety, but usually include tertiary, maturing notes of honey, nuts, and even dried fruits.
Like any other wine type, no two orange wines are quite the same. Of course grape variety will play a large role, but the time and attention of the winemaker is critical. Too much oxygen exposure equals spoiled wine and/or funky flavors. Too little and you don’t get the desired affect—visually or on the palate. I’ve had some funky (read: unpleasant) orange wines. I’ve had orange wines that barely touched the outer spectrum of what it means to be orange (thus quite lacking in aroma and flavor).
Today I bring you Passaggio Wines skin fermented Pinot Grigio. It’s a fun and perfectly delicious example of the winemaking process.
I know there are a lot of virtual tastings going on nowadays. It seems like every winery is trying to wiggle their way into a Facebook/Instagram Live and show you what you could be sipping on. But I came across this press release about a virtual tasting and music show put on by Three Sticks Wines here in Sonoma that benefits musical entertainers who have been effected by the COVID-crisis. The event is free to attend on Facebook with the option to donate whatever you can afford to give. Mark your calendars for 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 29. Details below.
Touriga Nacional: If you’ve heard of it, you’re probably thinking Port production, and you’re not wrong. Indeed, it is the most important red grape of the Duoro Valley where the majority of Port grapes are grown. Interesting fact: Touriga Nacional isn’t just for Port production, but still, non-fortified wines as well. (Read more about the wines of Portugal here and Port production here.) Another interesting fact: You don’t have to go to Portugal to taste Touriga Nacional. Actually, the grape grows in a couple of different California regions—some more successfully than others. In fact, past experience has told me to be wary of the grape when it hails from my home state. But today, we’re speaking about Touriga Nacional from El Dorado County, located in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains—a region I’ve come to know and trust for it’s cool-climate expression of otherwise harsh and rustic grapes. Where Touriga Nacional can become over-ripe and thus cloyingly alcoholic in some of California’s warmer, inland regions, C.G. Di Arie has crafted a wine expressive of the elevated hillsides and loamy soils.