Orange weekly: Milan Nestarec – Tramin 2013

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.

Orange weekly: Gsellmann – Traminer 2013

Every week, I select an orange wine (a white wine made with extended skin contact) that grabbed my attention. View the whole series here. There’s a bit of a myth that aromatic white varieties don’t work well with extended skin contact. It is true that non-aromatic varieties like Ribolla Gialla, Pinot Grigio and Malvasia Istriana take […]

Orange weekly: La Stoppa – Ageno 2010

This wine is one of relatively few standard bearers for the extended skin contact revival that’s not from Collio or Slovenian Brda. La Stoppa are based in Emilia Romagna, home to a rich, meaty cuisine and of course Lambrusco. Elena Pantaleoni makes this blend of Malvasia di Candia Aromatic, Ortugo and Trebbiano in honour of the estate’s founder Giancarlo Ageno.

Orange weekly: Ronco Severo – Severo Bianco 2012

I made many discoveries at last Friday’s Orange Wines Festival, in gorgeous Izola, Slovenia (full report coming soon) – but none more pleasurable than the wines of Ronco Severo, based in Friuli Colli Orientali. Having twice visited the village of Prepotto, where Schioppettino is king, I wondered how I’d managed to miss such a great producer.

Ronco Severo is Stefan Novello, who started on his winemaking journey in 1998. Novello makes a delicious skin macerated Ribolla Gialla, and an aromatic, creamy Friulano, but the pick of the bunch for me was his white blend “Severo Bianco 2012″

Orange weekly: Gravner – Breg 2004

Josko Gravner and Stanko Radikon, both hailing from Oslavje in north-eastern Friuli, pretty much kickstarted the revival of extended skin contact white wine making, in western Europe (In Georgia it has an unbroken history of 8000 years). For me, this makes uncorking a wine from either producer a special event.

Gravner’s wines are as uncompromising as they are brilliant, produced solely in Georgian qvevris (amphorae) since 2001. This bright amber coloured Breg 2004, a white blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling Italico and Pinot Grigio still feels youthful and rather closed.

Orange weekly: Albert Mathier et Fils – Amphore Assemblage Blanc 2010

Valais, Switzerland isn’t the first place you’d expect to find a Georgian qvevri, but Amédée Mathier has no less than 20 of them. Since 2008, his estate Albert Mathier et Fils (he’s the extant “Fils”) has been making two amphora, or rather qvevri matured wines, one white and one red. Sorry, I mean one orange and one red!

Orange weekly: La Castellada – Ribolla Gialla 2009

This 2009 Ribolla Gialla shows absolute mastery of Oslavia’s cherished variety and the extended skin maceration technique which is increasingly associated with this village.

Brothers Niccolò & Giorgio Bensa started bottling wine at this estate in Oslavia, Friuli Collio in 1985 – their reputation has built impressively ever since. Niccolò’s sons Stefano and Matteo are now involved too. The Bensas were part of the “Gravner group” during the late 1990s, which was so pivotal in reintroducing the traditional methods of extended skin contact and wild yeast ferments.

Seeing the world through orange-tinted glasses – Radikon & Paraschos

Orange wines have been on my mind lately, having spent the last few weeks writing an article for Decanter. Needing inspiration, I pulled the cork on two rather fine examples of the genre. They were so good, they deserve some blog love here… Radikon Oslavje First up was Radikon’s Oslavje 2003 – a blend of Chardonnay, […]

The trials of being organic

Here’s my latest column for US online wine magazine Palate Press  – focusing mostly on organic producers in Graves. Last week, the New Zealand Organic Focus Project gave a public presentation on three medium to large NZ wineries who participated in a side-by-side organic versus conventional agriculture trial. The aim was to demonstrate the relative ease […]

Load of old bull – does biodynamics need to explain itself?

“When I taste this wine, I imagine I’m walking up the dry river bed next to the Tatou vineyard, just after the rain. The smell of the wet stones is utterly distinctive.” This is the way that Colin Ross, vineyard manager at Seresin, likes to describe wine – no fruit descriptors, no talk of tannins, structure or pH. During a […]