Last week’s wine was definitely an edge case, with only two days of maceration, yet utterly inhabiting the “orange wine” end of the flavour spectrum. Burja is another. Primož Lavrenčič’s 7.4 hectares are situated in the stunning Vipava valley, about 40 km east of the Italian border.
Keber is typical of many small producers in Friuli Collio, in producing a range varying from the more conventional fresh, fruity varietal wines, to the more traditional. Keber’s Ribolla Gialla Extreme is a nod to the long skin maceration technique that has been embedded in Friuli’s wine traditions for centuries.
Think Pinot Grigio, think insipid, water white cheap glugging plonk? Think again. Here is a 100% Pinot Grigio from Friuli Collio which confounds everything you ever knew about the variety.Dario Prinčič’s version macerates on its skins for around eight days during fermentation.
If you made a list of the world’s most vertiginous wine regions, Southern Styria would certainly be amongst them. Vineyards sprawl up and down extraordinary gradients, at unlikely angles to each other. It’s a breathtaking, individual landscape, and therefore quite fitting that the area is home to some of Austria’s most unconventional wines and producers.
When life gives you oysters, break out the bubbles. Or crack open the Muscadet. That is at least the conventional wisdom. But last Thursday, life (well, The Remedy to be precise) gave me a stunning skin contact Catarratto from Sicily, followed seconds later by a large plate of my favourite molluscs. Was this going to work?
Branko Čotar has a very straightforward answer for me when I ask when he started using extended skin macerations for his white wines: “I’ve macerated my wines for 40 years – it’s the tradition here (in the Slovenian Kras region)”.
The production methods for Tscheppe’s Erdfass (“earth barrel”), also known as Hirschkäfer (Stag beetle), seem bizarre at first glance. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc & Chardonnary ferments on the skins for two weeks, and is then transferred into a 600 litre oak barrel which is buried in the ground over the winter months. After the winter, the barrel is dug up, the wine continues to mature and is then bottled after 24 months.
I’ve heard many stories about why winemakers have returned to traditional skin maceration for white wines – or why they were inspired to experiment with the style. But Martin Arndorfer’s is quite unique: “It was actually my Danish importer who suggested I start making an orange wine – his clients were demanding the style, and he felt it could work well with the terroir and the grape varieties we have here”.
I employ a crude rating system when I’m jotting down tasting notes in the field. A wine gets either no stars (anything from terrible to quite good), one star (very good/excellent), or very rarely two stars (outstanding). 2015’s first two star wine was Josko Renčel’s stunning white blend, simply called “cuvée”.
Skin contact traminers are a bit like London buses – you don’t see one for ages, then all of a sudden, two appear at once. I discovered this Czech beauty from Milan Nestarec at last week’s Raw Fair – always an inspiring event, and a fertile hunting ground for orange wines.