Tasting orange wines with Hugh Johnson

I’m not sure that I have heroes anymore – and those I once had were certainly not wine writers. That said, if I did, and if they were, Hugh Johnson OBE would be a candidate. Several of his books are on my shelf, and his writings have accompanied my entire journey into wine over the last 25 […]

The unknown Austria – Part 2

For the introduction to this tasting, please see Part 1. Orange Interlude Austria shares borders with Northern Italy and Slovenia – both parts of the world with a long tradition of using extended skin maceration in white wine. So it’s no surprise that Austrian winemakers have taken to this style enthusiastically, with some now well […]

“Orange wines are a sideshow and a waste of time”

“What’s the point of experimenting? We know how to make really good wine. Why do we want to throw away the formula and do something different?” Hugh Johnson, interviewed in the Washington Post, October 2016. Recently I’ve been wondering whether the whole arena of natural wines was becoming so mainstream, tolerated and understood that maybe there […]

Old Man of La Mancha – de Sol a Sol Airén 2011

Never mind the special six course foraged dinner “010 020 Het Wilde”, cooked by a crack team of chefs from Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The star of the show for me was de Sol a Sol – a thrilling, profound orange wine which transcends its seemingly extreme method of production – 403 days of skin contact!

Bucce for buck – Excellent value “orange” ansonica

It’s a great joy to finally discover a true “orange wine” that retails (just) under the €10 mark (in the Netherlands). Poggio Argentiera’s “Ansonica Bucce” is that wine.
Inzolia fermented on the skins and aged in cement.

Julien Meyer – Petit Fleur – Muscat de Maceration 2015

Patrick Meyer is the winemaker at the family owned Julien Meyer domaine in Northerly Alsace (Nothalten to be precise). He’s been in the saddle for a while – since 1982 in fact. The domaine has been farmed biodynamically (Demeter certified) since 1985, and Patrick spurns all additives including sulphur. More on that subject later!

Balance is everything – Intellego Elementis 2014

Elementis 2014, like its predecessors, is 100% Chenin Blanc, fermented on the skins for 3 weeks and then matured in used French oak for 9-10 months. Jurgen gets incredible freshness and concentration from his dry farmed fruit. That’s given this wine a lightness of touch and purity that is quite startling.

Chameleon Chardonnay: Save our Souls “Skin on Skin” 2015

Exhibit A today is a 100% Chardonnay from a hip Aussie winemaking duo – William Downie, who became infamous for his $100 Pinot Noir in 2013, and compatriot Jason Searle, together “Save our Souls”. The fruit hails from the relatively cool climate Mornington Peninsula area, and was treated with the utmost respect – whole bunch fermentation in tank, with no additions of any kind, excepting a pinch of SO2 at bottling.

Year zero at Radikon – Ribolla Gialla 1995

“The really big change was when I tasted the wine. It was something completely new, totally different and exciting. It made me crazy, just tasting it.”

This is how Stanko Radikon describes the life changing moment in 1995 which prompted him to change the family’s entire wine production to what we now know and love as “orange wines”.

Burgenland’s burgeoning orange scene: Andert Pamhogna

Some interesting Austria producers are well nigh invisible to the English speaking world, and at a guess this is why I’d never heard of Michael Andert (Andert Wein) until late last year. His tiny estate (4ha) in Burgenland (Easterly Austria, near the Hungarian border) has been certified biodynamic since 2003, and the white wines are all fermented on their skins.