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.
AKA “orange wine.” I recently spoke to a veteran winemaker who suspects that the next winemaking ‘trend’ will be orange wine. Orange wine is made with wine grapes traditionally used to make white wine (like Pinot Grigio, Semillon, or Riesling) but it’s made in the way red wine is traditionally made — with skin contact.
Believe it or not, this is my first Lange Twins experience. The family-owned winery is a well-known Lodi staple that produces a very extensive portfolio of wines. Here I have something not from their Lodi home base, but sourced from one of my favorite mini-wine regions: Clarksburg. This wine is a testament, not just to the good reputation of the winery, but to what (I think) the climate of Clarksburg does best — crisp but earthy white wines.(more…)
No, it’s not a Pinot Grigio. Grillo is a white wine grape indigenous to the Sicilian wine region. Though its exact evolution is unknown, it’s believed to be the cross-bred child of Catarratto (one of the most widely planted white wine grapes in Sicily) and Zibibbo (a Muscat grape variety originating from Alexandria, Sicily). The grape’s claim to fame is its ability to withstand warm temperatures and drought — perfect for the hot-blooded climate known to the Sicilian terrain (and people). Grillo is sturdy enough to hang on the vine well past a traditional harvest time, making it the perfect candidate for concentrated, high-alcoholic dessert-style wines (most classically, Marsala).
Interesting factoid: the Italian word grillo literally translates to the English word “cricket.” And that is where the Donfugata Sur Sur 2016 Grillo begins…
An exciting conclusion to my Lindeman’s Australian wine series is the Lindeman’s Bin 85 Pinot Grigio. While their Chardonnay offered a classic take on the varietal, the Cabernet Sauvignon a markedly New World expression, it’s the Pinot Grigio that — to my palate — is just 100% Australian.