WINE OF THE WEEK: Litmus Orange 2016, England

£14.99, Waitrose


I've had to wait weeks for this unusual and delicious wine to be on the shelves before recommending it. It's now in selected stores and online later in the month, coinciding neatly with some discussion in the trade/on social media about whether Bacchus, the grape from which it's made, is a one-trick pony and/or should be pushed as the UK's signature white variety. Here's my two pennyworth: Litmus Orange is proof that Bacchus is capable of more than one expression, but it shouldn't be pushed as our signature variety. Let's move on.


As I say it's delicious, although if you're not familiar with orange wines it's distinctive and complex flavours might be a bit of a shock initially: balsam, herbs, currant leaf, barbecued meat and roasting coffee, then almond patisserie and candied grapefruit, a smooth, rounded palate and a refreshing bitter twist to the finish. Why all this? It's an orange wine, meaning it was fermented and aged with its skins like a red wine, rather than without skins like a white. It was kept like that, without sulphur dioxide, by winemaker John Worontschak at Denbies Estate, Dorking, Surrey, for 16 months before being pressed and then aged for nine months in used French oak barrels.


Some orange wines are orange in colour, but this one is pale straw. The other striking thing about it is that you get all this aroma, taste and texture at only 11.5% alcohol. It's food-friendly, going well with lamb chops (rosemary, garlic), slow-roast belly of pork, brown crab meat, and I'm sure could handle a bit of chilli or other spices.


Litmus Orange 2016, England


£14.99, Waitrose (selected stores and online later this month)

£90 for 6, litmuswines.com


#England #Bacchus #supermarket #orange

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Website © 2019 Joanna Simon

Header photo © Waitrose & Partners Drinks / Cat Garcia