The Fourth Wine?
You’ll read that orange wine is like rosé. Not really. Not at all. Many wine novices could start with rosé and like it straight off. If they start with orange, they may never drink wine again.
I reckon you have to serve a general apprenticeship, a rather pleasant broad-based one like I did, before you are ready for orange, at least the orange I've been tasting the past year or so, beginning with La Stoppa’s Ageno. Well, I did start at the top as this wine has been declared, by Decanter, as the best orange in the world.
The orange colour of these wines, obtained by leaving the skins in contact with the juice, is not uniform for various reasons to do with varieties, geography and time in contact (weeks, even months). The Ageno above spends 30 days on the skins, the Dinavolina below has had four months of contact, the Baglio just four days!
Essentially they are white wines - both examples below are labelled bianco - but they also have a higher level of tannins, more like a red wine, and indeed can match foods where previously red would have been the only choice. Welcome to the fourth wine!
Baglio Bianco Catarratto Terre Siciliane (IGP) 2014, 12%, €19.50 Le Caveau, Bradley's Cork.
Bianco is certainly a bit of a misnomer here as this is most definitely an orange wine, a cloudy deep amber in colour, unfined and unfiltered. And Le Caveau say it is a “fantastic introduction” to orange, “both from a flavour and price point of view”.
A nose of baked apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg is promised and delivered. There are strong reminders of a flavoursome dry cider as this wine spreads across the palate. A fantastic concentration of the flavours follows through to a lip-smacking finish. Highly Recommended.
Pairings suggested by the importers are free range pork with apple sauce; a herby roast chicken; and cheeses such as Durrus. Catarratto, by the way, is Sicily’s, and Italy’s, most popular white wine grape.
Azienda Agricola Dinavolo Dinavolina Bianco Vino D’Italia 2013, 10.5%, €21.65 Le Caveau, Bradley's Cork.
And now, from a vineyard height of 1,500 feet, with no added sulphurs, we bring you Dinavolina, the personal project of Giulio Armani, the winemaker at La Stoppa in Emilia Romagna, where Ageno is produced. This “left of centre” wine is a blend of Malvasia di Candida Aromatico, Marsanne, Ortrugo and an unidentifiable ancient local grape.
The amber colour here is clear, unlike the cloudy Baglio. Again there are hints of the apple orchard in the aromas but not as pronounced as in the Catarratto. The acidity is certainly a striking feature, reminiscent of the Basque wine Txakoli.
Fruit flavours are spare but insistent - four months on skins have seen to that colour and the tannins. The finish replicates the palate and one can see how the Dinavolina would go well with the recommended dishes: salt cod; ricotta filled pasta; or hard cheese. Personally, I’d add pork. The wine itself is Highly Recommended.