£14.75, Vintage Roots
If you’re in the business of writing about or selling wine, it's easy to think that orange wine is now so mainstream that everyone knows about it. Well, I’m here to report that it isn’t and they don’t. I meet wine drinkers all the time who don’t know what it is and don’t buy it.
Let me start by saying this new orange wine, Insieme (meaning together), is delicious. Give if a go, not least because like most orange wines it’s very versatile with food, going with the sort of food you would usually pair with red wines, as well as food with which you would more often drink white or rosé.
I’ll talk more about the flavour and food matching in a moment, but first a brief explanation of orange wine. If you know what it is, skip the next two paragraphs.
Orange wine is produced from white grapes, but is made in the same way as red wine. Instead of pressing the grapes and then fermenting the juice only, the grapes are fermented with their skins. This gives the orange colour and a structure with some tannin, more like red wine.
There are all sorts of permutations. For example, you can ferment whole bunches with the stems still attached, or, as for Insieme, you can destem the grapes and then gently crush them before fermentation. Very broadly, the longer the skins and wine are left together the more the wine will taste like a red wine and the more challenging it might seem to the uninitiated.
This wine, from the organic and sustainable Santa Tresa estate in Vittoria, southeast Sicily, is a blend of two Sicilian grape varieties, Inzolia (80%) and Zibibbo (or Muscat of Alexandria). They were fermented separately, with their skins, the Inzolia for two to three weeks and the more aromatic Zibibbo for six weeks. After blending, the wine was left for three months on fine lees (to enhance texture and flavour).
It has lovely aromas of spice, orange pomander, blood orange, camomile and dried peach and a mouth-filling, dry palate with dried-apricot fruitiness balanced by the lively freshness of green tea.
I drank it with straccetti di manzo con rughetta e parmigiano – strips of steak tossed in olive oil then quickly seared and served on rocket with shavings of parmesan – and with a salad of confit de gésiers de canard (duck gizzard – it always sounds more appetising in French) and it was good with both. It could equally well be served with spicy roast vegetable dishes, miso baked fish, an extensive meze, roast pork or lamb chops. 13%. Empty bottle weight: 558g.
Santa Tresa Insieme Orange Wine 2022, Terre Siciliane, Sicily, Italy
£14.75, Vintage Roots