You never forget your first time. For the orange wine as for the rest. It can be a pleasant surprise, leave a taste of bitterness in the mouth, or – and this is probably the most common – destabilize you. For the palate, orange wine is terra incognita. He knew red, white, rosé. What is this fourth color, not to be confused with orange wine, this bitter aperitif?
Let’s go to the simplest thing: orange is a white wine made like red, that is to say, leaving the skin of the grape in contact with the juice. Today, it is an essential beverage for trendy tables. Since 2012, he has even been entitled to an international festival twice a year, often in Slovenia or Austria, and in Australia at the end of the month. Trend? Not only. We are far from marketing and the gadget that was blue wine in recent years. It is above all a return to basics that goes hand in hand with the trend for natural wines.
Because the method used is ancestral and comes to us from Georgia more than six thousand years ago. Unlike the vinification of white wines, the grapes are not pressed before the juice is fermented. For an orange wine, it is often the whole bunches that macerate, a few days or several months. Hence its categorization as a white maceration wine. In Georgia, this was traditionally done in terracotta pots, kyevris, sealed to avoid any contact with air and buried so that the temperature remains constant. During this phase, the solid parts of the grape (seeds, skin, stalk) release coloring components (anthocyanins, polyphenols) and tannins that are undesirable for white wines but which give orange wines all their particularity.
Space of freedom for winegrowers
It was in the mid-1990s that they began to be talked about. First in northern Italy where Josko Gravner started with native grape varieties: pinot grigio, friulano (sauvignon vert) and ribolla gialla. In France, Jura, Languedoc, Loire and Savoie produce it from white grape varieties such as Chenin, Riesling or Sauvignon. Other countries are getting involved more and more because there is a market: these wines are very popular in Quebec, Japan and South Korea.
We do not have precise specifications as for AOC or IGP, we are in experimental mode
Producer at the Domaine des Grandes Espérances, nearly 25 hectares in Touraine including one in orange wine, Laurent Saget says: “At the start of the 2000s, we identified a potential for positioning, a bit like Beaujolais: a wine for pleasure, accessible to price level, which brings together and opens up discussion. ” It also appeals to winegrowers because it offers a real space of freedom. “We do not have precise specifications as for AOC or IGP, we are in experimental mode”, enthuses Laurent Saget.
And at the table, what is it worth? Félix Le Louarn, sommelier at the Eels restaurant (Paris 10th arrondissement), which always has four or five orange wines on its menu, gives his point of view on the question: “The aromatics are out of the ordinary with notes of dried fruits and ‘peels of citrus fruits, exotic fruits, candied fruits, spicy notes, etc. They offer great possibilities for food and wine pairings, for example with soft washed cheeses such as cow’s milk ogleshield, which has a slightly strong aroma. As an accompaniment to a land-sea dish, it’s also very good! ”