Wine can be made in so many styles nowadays but one style that I have always been attracted and interested are the wine made in Orange style.
The Orange wines are made from the beginning of the wine history from 8000 years and are still made in the so-called wine birthplace, in Georgia but the quality never stand out till the 80s when Jasko Gravner went to Georgia to understand how to make the best out of this style and coming back to Italy, most precisely in Oslavia to apply this ancient methods.
After few trial vintages he became very fast the pioneer of the renaissance of the Orange wines and many great producers followed this trend as Radikon, Princic and La Castellada. Outside the Oslavia DOC also Damijan Podversic, Zidarich, Vedopivec and Skerk makes stunning orange wines but all of them on the eastern side of Italy, just on the border of Friuli and Slovenia
What’s this orange wine??? The answer is simple. They are wines made by white grapes that instead of being pressed and the skin removed letting the pure juice fermenting alone, the skins are kept macerating with the juice as it is made with red wine.
Obviously the red grapes have red/purple pigments that colour the wine to ruby/purple but instead the white grape skin gives the wine the orangey/amber colour.
They can be called also “macerated white wines” as refer to the maceration of the juice with the skins. The Orange wines haven’t got any appellation to look for when you keen to drink this style and are usually labelled often as IGT Friuli, or Colli Orientali DOC or Collio DOC but the production is extended also in Carso DOC. Along them also Oslavia DOC where the Orange wine producer are concentrated, does not group only orange wine, instead also conventional white and red wines.
Moreover to make this style of wine can be used in various grape varieties such as Pinot Grigio, Vitovska and Ribolla Gialla to name my top three favourite and many others as Malvasia Istriana, Friulano, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay to name a few others.
The Orange wines are also made in “field blend” (whatever varietal you have in the vineyard) or single variety, aged in oak, or neutral vat or most traditionally in Qveri which are Georgian clay amphoras buried in the ground having a natural constant temperature without the use of energy.
Orange wine generally have complex aromas of ripe citrus as orange mandarin and grapefruit, ripe apricot in some cases also earthy nutty dried fruits aromas and are generally
med to full body with
med to high acidity and distinctive
med to high tannins that comes from the skin contact as red wines.
This wines vary from the most elegant made by Gravner using different varieties together to the richest style as the Vitovska of Skerk in Carso DOC which benefit from the iron-rich clay soil called Terra Rossa.
So yes how to find a bottle of orange wine if it is so confusing and so different between each other?
The answer is to look for the producer I mentioned and I leave it listed below, and start to discover them slowly. Orange wine it’s not everybody’s cup of tea but are incredibly interesting, moreover these wines are rare to find and usually expensive but they are wines that you need to try at least once before you die!
Jasko Gravner: pioneer of this style, use georgian qveri anforas, his wines are pricey but probably the most elegant
Radikon: i love all the range from his Pinot Grigio to the blends
Princic: craft maker, makes just 13k btls a year
La Castellada: his Ribolla Gialla its great!
Skerk: look for his Vitovska from Carso DOC
Damijan Podversic: his malvasia it's quite interesting
Zidarich: Vitovska grape specialist
Vodopivec: also use georgian anforas