Beer, Wine and Spirits: Orange wine

Southbrook Orange Wine
Photo credit: facebook.com/SouthbrookWine
Posted on: June 22, 2022

This is the latest craze in the wine world. I will concentrate on just a few Orange wines from Ontario, B.C., France and Spain. We just returned from a long weekend in Niagara-on-the Lake staying at a beautiful and relaxing B&B. Our first stop was to say hello to the Winemaker, Ann Sperling, but we were ‘drop-ins’ and she wasn’t at the winery. Instead, George took us to the canopied patio overlooking the Cab Franc vineyard to have a charcuterie board and a selection of wines including these two Orange wines.

2020 Triomphe Orange, Southbrook Vineyards, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario 11.3%abv $29.75

For those that know and love our Estate Orange wine, this new Orange is a bit lighter in oranginess (is that even a word?). It is made of almost equal parts Vidal and Chardonnay Musqué. The Chardonnay brings a lovely citrusy note, almost of honeydew melon on the nose and on the palate. There’s some tannin, as with all Orange wines, but less than in the Estate Orange. Think of this wine as a good introduction to the genre. This was my pick of the two as it was less tannic with more residual sweetness and it had some flavor variety because it was a blend.

2020 Estate Vidal Orange, Southbrook Vineyards, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario 10.7%abv $29.75

Estate-grown Vidal grapes were hand-harvested and the clusters were foot trodden to gently squeeze about 30% of the berries – everything (rachis and berries) was then included in open-top, stainless steel fermenters.  Wild yeast and malolactic fermentation took place simultaneously over an average 22-day skin contact period while being pumped over once a day.  Gentle pressing, then settling in outdoor winter temperatures were followed by bottling with the inclusion of some lees. A nose of fresh peach, yellow plums, citrus fruit skins, grapefruit pith with a hint of savory herbs; bright acidity and a moderate level of tannins, free of additives, including no sulphites, this is a food wine in my opinion to pair with Mediterranean dishes or a charcuterie board.

Flint, Sperling Vineyards, Kelowna, Okanagan Valley B.C. 10.2%abv $32 

Flint is a skin-fermented Vidal white wine that brings together the best of all winemaking worlds – freshness of white grapes, tannin, and body like a red wine with savorieness. It underwent 3 methods of fermentation: partial carbonic maceration (which is how Nouveau Beaujolais is made in France), alcoholic fermentation and malolactic fermentation, and sat 25 days on the skins. It was then let to settle for about three and a half months and then bottled unfiltered. Characteristics include fuzzy peach, jasmine, rosewater, and tea on the nose with herbal flavours, mouth-filling volume, and tannins on the mid-palate and zesty tea-textured finish. Pair it with curries or Thai spices – with lower alcohol at 10.2% even spicy-hot works.

2020 Clockwork, Leaning Post, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario 12%abv $32

A skin-fermented white wine using Sauvignon Blanc. Clockwork has aromas that are reminiscent of walking through a forest in the summertime. It doesn’t have the typical sourness you would expect from an orange wine, but instead has vibrant, balanced acidity and velvety tannins. Overall, orange wine can sometimes taste more like a gruit style of beer than a wine with its high acidity and sourness. Food friendly that pairs well with Korean and Chinese food, and pub-style foods.

Inclusion Orange, Trayner Family Vineyard, Prince Edward County, Ontario 11.5%abv $35
60% Frontenac Gris, 40% Sauvignon Blanc

The colour of peach juice with a hint of salmon made from skin-fermented Frontenac Gris and Sauvignon Blanc.  Field berry, jolly rancher and guava on the nose; soft palate with a hint of tannin. They blend Sauvignon Blanc and frequently Chardonnay with the skin-fermented Frontenac Gris to add elegance to the wine. Frontenac Gris is a very powerful variety with very strong aromatics of cooked strawberry and campfire, and the acidity is very high. Sauvignon Blanc adds more green fruit notes and the blend takes on an almost Jolly Rancher character. The acidity and tannin levels are soft and it is bottled very young to help preserve the freshness.

2020 Cuvée Orange Gewürztraminer, Norman Hardie Vineyards was $35.20 now $37.20

This white wine with grapes from VQA Niagara Peninsula was fermented on the skins for 28 days to extract tannins, colour (a beautiful eye of the partridge pink hue), and the highly perfumed rose-petal notes synonymous with Gewürztraminer. Enticing nose of potpourri, rosewater, pink grapefruit pith and crunchy starfruit with a glimmer of resin-drenched juniper berry adding wild complexity, and good texture and tannin. Fresh tart lychee fruit and florals on the palate finishing dry and clean. His prices keep rising!

2020 Domaine Joel Delaunay Casca Vin Orange Sauvignon Blanc, France LCBO#23728 12.5%abv $23.95

This one is tropical, with snappy orange citrus and savoury herbal tones.(Gilbert & Gaillard International Challenge – score 90).

Cattin Pinot Gris Orange 2020 Alsace, France, LCBO#22708 13%abv $17.95

This new offering from Cattin is richly textured, complex and spicy, with suggestions of lemon and orange citrus atop tangy tropical notes. Pair with sausage or smoked salmon.

Peter Weber Orange Pinot Gris 2020 Alsace, France, LCBO#25332 14%abv $21.95

Elegant, fresh and bright with good balance and weight that will age for another two years. Pair with grilled fish. Orange wines are meant to be drunk young.

Dominio de Punctum Pomelado Orange Wine 2020 La Mancha, Spain LCBO#12119 13.2%abv $16.95

Skin contact between 10 and 14 days, during fermentation. This example shows robust, vibrant tropical fruit, apple and nuts. Great with sushi or grilled salmon.

If you want to know more about Orange wines you should get the recently released book, “Amber Revolution: How the World Learned to Love Orange Wine” by Simon. J. Woolf, the first book to tell about the history of orange wine as well as descriptions of 180 current best producers around the world (which includes those by Ann Sperling of Southbrook in Ontario and Sperling Vineyards in her home province of British Columbia).

Column by Brian Preston

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