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.
About the Wine: Passaggio Wines 2019 Skin Fermented Pinot Grigio is made from 100% Pinot Grigio grapes harvested from Albini Vineyards in Sonoma, California.
88 cases produced
Appearance: pale amber
Aroma: The Passaggio Wines 2019 Skin Fermented Pinot Grigio has pronounced, youthful aromas of orange marmalade, honey, blossom, lemon curd, orange zest, orange pith, agave nectar, nasturtium, and daisies. (Or, to put it shortly, it’s literally summer in a glass.)
Palate: The wine is dry with medium (+) acid, medium alcohol, low tannins (yes there are tannins), and a medium (-) body. The flavor intensity, like the aroma, is pronounced, showcasing many of the same flavors as those sensed on the nose. The flavors of daisies and chamomile, orange pith and zest (evident in the phenolic bitterness) are all elevated on the palate. Add to the flavor profile a bit of almond skins as well.
The finish is long.
Conclusion: Based on the WSET criteria, the Passaggio Wines 2019 Skin Fermented Pinot Grigio is very good. I debate whether or not it is suitable for long-term aging. While all the structural components are certainly present and the wine would, inevitably, develop more tertiary aromas and flavors (honeys, nuts, dried fruits)—for me, personally, the joy of this wine is in those primary, namely floral, elements that I do not think will withstand the test of time. So, on a personal rec, I’m going to say, enjoy now, don’t wait, and if you love it, just tell Cindy to make more next vintage 😉 .
Food Pairing: I paired the Passaggio Wines 2019 Skin Fermented Pinot Grigio with grilled octopus served with an arugula and roasted fingerling potato salad. Exotic meal for an exotic wine.
More Info: I purchased the Passaggio Wines 2019 Skin Fermented Pinot Grigio as part of my spring club membership allocation. Retail: $32. For more information about Passaggio Wines and to order wine (available for curb side pick up and local Sonoma deliveries as well), please visit the Passaggio Wines website.
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