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 to maceration like a duck to water, but the technique can work with our more fragrant friends as well.
If you’ve tried the wonderful skin macerated wines made by the “Schmecke das Leben” group of winemakers (Muster, Tscheppe, Strohmeier, Tauss etc) in Southern Styria, you’ll recognise the distinctive perfume of Gelber Muskateller (Yellow Muscat) which enlivens so many of the blends. De Martino makes a 100% Muscat in this style, and Janko Štekar has a phenomenal “orange” Riesling in his armoury. But how about most-aromatic of all Gewurztraminer?
Andreas Gsellmann, also Austrian but from easterly Burgenland, makes a couple of superbly refined, elegant orange wines. His Traminer (Actually a blend of Roter Traminer and Gelber Traminer) is perhaps the most unusual. The distinctive rose petal aromas on the nose don’t feel at all muted by the 14 days of skin contact. I’ve tasted oak-aged Traminers which were utterly flattened by the wood influence, whereas the maceration here seems to amplify and intensify.
The flavours are not atypical for the variety – white peach and a nice almond note, but with more body, tension and spiciness than you’d normally expect. Very fine tannins knit everything together into an elegant, balanced wine, which definitely gains in textural interest and individuality from its unorthodox treatment.
Gsellmann is one of the Pannobile group of winemakers based in Gols, a powerhouse of exciting and often unconventional winemaking.
This wine is available in many mainland European countries, but not in the UK (yet).