All About Orange Wines!

By Brian Lemay No comments

Hello Tippler Nation! Today we have a
special treat. We are being joined by Jenny Eagleton of the Punchdown here in
Oakland California to talk about one of our favorite topics,
orange wine in one of our all-time favorite wine bars, stay tuned. We are thrilled to be here and I’m thrilled to talk to you because you have so much knowledge and expertise and so many fun perspectives on
everything. So tell us a little bit about yourself? Who are you? Tell us who you are? So my name is Jenny Eagleton. I work here at the Punchdown as
bartender and I do other fun things around around California. I spend time
working in wineries whenever I can and then I also write about natural wine. I’m excited to be here talking to you about all this stuff. So tell us about where we are, the Punchdown. Yes, the Punchdown is a natural wine bar. We were the first
natural wine bar in the East Bay, San Francisco Bay Area and I think the third
natural wine bar in the US. Let’s talk about what we’re here to kind of dive into
today, which is one of my favorite styles, orange wines. I think a lot of people
probably don’t even know what orange wines are. I think there’s a lot of
people out there today who still haven’t even heard of orange wines. They’re still
pretty rare, still kind of hard to find, starting to get more popular. So 101, like what the heck is an orange wine? Well there’s a reason why…there’s a bunch of reasons why most people haven’t heard of Orange Wine. One of them is that the term was actually coined in 2004. That recently?
Yeah the history of this type of wine is much much older than that though. It
dates back to ancient Eurasia. The Republic of Georgia likes to claim that
they are the origin of wine making. I also like to tell that story…I’m not
sure if it’s totally true, but the way that orange wine gets its
color is the same way that red wine gets its color. So it’s skin contact. It’s like
the same idea when you’re steeping a tea. The longer you let the tea bag steep the more color transference and also the more flavor transference. So these wines are made from white wine grapes but they sit in the juice, instead of being pressed off and separated immediately, they sit in the juice for four days, four months or
even almost a year. Oh wow! So I’m gonna ask a silly question that I
feel like a lot of people like might wrestle with in their brain but feel too
silly to ask – orange wines versus rosés? That’s such a good question and
it’s such a fun conversation to have. Most rosés are not made with four days
of skin contact. They’re made with like two hours of skin contact.
They’re almost the opposite a little bit, orange wines if you think about
it, right? Because it’s red wine grapes that are very little skin contact
there’s normally to make a red wine you have much more skin contact. Whereas
these are white wine grapes that have more skin contact, yes. Versus less, so
it’s almost like the red and the white are swapped and then the less skin
contact or more skin contact is swapped as well, Yeah. I think that orange wines are really fun alternatives to serve to rosé drinkers. Because rosés can, are just sort of like they have the weight of a white wine but they have a
little bit more texture and that’s how I think of orange wine right now. I agree I
think especially for summer you know to spice up your normal rotation of the
summer white’s and summer rosés, like slipping some orange wines in there
especially when you’re kind of craving something a little bit meatier and
cheesier like a big red wine but it’s hot out and you don’t necessarily want big red wine. I love drinking orange wine in the pool. Yeah, I think there’s a lot of times a
perception for people who are familiar with orange wines the orange wines are
funky and cheesy and barnyardy and like not for me. Is that true of all orange
wines or are there orange wines out there that don’t have that funky
characteristic? So there definitely are orange wines out there they don’t have that
funky characteristic. What are we tasting today? Do we have super funky orange
wines? Do we have a spectrum, kind of where are we gonna go? Oh we have a spectrum,
All right! So we have a spectrum between flavors, between grapes, and also between
countries. Great. So the first one we have is a wine called Meinklang. One of my favorite Austrian natural producers. These ones are great and they get a lot of distribution through the US. Okay, so it might be a little easier for people to find? Yeah so this is a Pinot Gris
but damn it smells delicious, mm-hmm it’s got that like floral like really like
bright bright floral, it’s kind of peachy, Yeah, I get a little honey too. There’s a
little sweetness to it for an orange wine. I don’t always smell a lot of
sweetness in orange wine. There’s a little bit. And it’s got a little bit of, this
sounds a little wild, but some reislings can have this sort of gasoline twangyness. On the palate. It’s like compared to how it smells, it’s really subdued.
It’s got like definitely strong structural acidity. Yeah. It’s got
beautiful minerality sweet but not watered. Totally. But it’s got some more of white
peach that kind of luscious yellow peach like I got on the nose. It’s like nectarine,
it’s just kind of like a clean, sharp stone fruit. It is sharp and it’s sharper
than the nose, like the nose is a little bit sweeter to me and then when I taste
it, it does get that like the mouth juices flowing and kind of that little
bit of tannic, which I love, because I don’t feel like I get that from rosés. So
we were talking about earlier rosés versus orange wines and it’s like you
know sometimes I want something a little lighter and fresher and maybe a little
cooler but I want that tannic kind of funk, kind of like you know but I
wouldn’t say this is super funky either. Yeah, it’s got a little bit of stuff going on. The second wine is from a
winery called Domaine Léonine from the Languedoc in Southern France. It’s a
blend of of some grapes that grow in not a lot of places but they’re not crazy
obscure grapes. So Grenache Gris Grenache Blanc.
Most people know grenache as a red grape but these are different colored clones
and then a fun grape called Macabeo. One thing I really like about this wine is that it’s such a great intro to orange wine. It’s really soft and floral. It’s very floral. Yeah. But it’s like it’s like
field of flowers. Yes! Rather than the really kind of luscious tropical flower
that we got with this one. This is dry. It’s not the first wine we
tasted these we got like acidic kind of you know, mouth-watering feel. This
doesn’t do that for me exactly but it is like kind of a dry wine. Right totally,
there’s not a lot of tannin and there’s not a lot of acidity in it. So it’s just
soft diffused, pretty. Yeah. It’s very nice. Not a lot…I wouldn’t say there’s
any funk in this really, like this is a pretty good example of like a clean
orange wine that if you’re scared away by the funk that you hear about in
orange wines. Like I feel like this would be a great example to start with. Yeah.
And the third one is definitely the funkiest of the bunch. The wine is called
Dinavolino from Denavolo – kind of confusing. Yeah! It’s an Italian producer based in
Emilia-Romagna making some of my favorite, more affordable Italian
orange wines but this is a pretty unusual blend of grapes. One of the grapes in
this wine I’ve actually never heard of before. So there’s malvasia and then a
grape called ortuga and then marsanne. So it’s really unusual and
interesting about this is to blend of Italian and historically French grapes. Interesting. So marsanne is normally grown in the Rhone Valley in
Southern France. I don’t know why Denavolo is planting it. It’s typically
really soft low acid grape but it can be a really good blending grape to add richness and floral qualities to wine and I think it makes really beautiful skin
contact wines. But this wine is definitely the funkiest
of these. It’s got some brett going on. I get like horsey hay. Oh yeah. This one
for me for some reason certain wines when I smell them and taste them like
kind of give me a vision in my brain and I feel like I’m sitting in a barn on a
hay bale. There’s some horses over there, maybe there’s a little poop with the horses, there’s horses after all, but there’s lilies everywhere and so there’s this like
floral over note of this barnyardy kind of that just is like lovely and I’m like
happy as can be sitting there with the horses, hay and lilies, you know, yeah.
It’s really, it’s fun when it…and not all wines do that for me. The other the other
two didn’t transport me like that but this one really it’s like put me in a place it’s really quite lovely. It’s a really really
special wine. I think all of these are really special wines and I like them all
for really different reasons. All right so we’ve had some really great
expressions of orange wine and I love that we kind of covered a spectrum of
you know a little bit funkier, a little bit cleaner. If you know, if Tippler Nation
kind of everyone who’s watching wants to jump into orange wines… hopefully you do
hopefully they’ve gotten you excited about this topic…where do they start?
What styles? What regions? Like how would you help them get into this? That’s such
a fun conversation so orange wine’s made all over the world
but sadly it doesn’t get yet, great distribution throughout the U.S..
There are reliable places to buy bottles of orange wine across the
U.S.. Best way to learn about natural wine is or orange wine is to have
somebody point you in the right direction and what what I would do is if you don’t
have a really good natural wine shop in your local, in your local city, call
Uva in Brooklyn or call Flatiron Wines or call Ordinare or you can call here at
The Punchdown and say we are looking for wine in our city. Do you know
anything that’s distributed here and can you help me find some skin contact white
wines and also do you ship to me? The best way to get wine these days is to have
it shipped right to your house but then there’s so many people that we can all
learn from, continue to learn from, Alice Feiring, old school, she’s the original
natural wine writer. She’s such a great resource for orange wine and then just
again paying attention to the importers. And make friends like Jenny. When you’re
at your local, you know fabulous wine bar or bottle shop and you kind of hit it
off with someone and you realize that they’re pouring you something delicious,
that you love, like make friends with them because they understand your palate
and they know what you like and then that way you can
have this conversation pointed in the right direction and learn about
importers and all that fun stuff. So yeah so we hope that we’ve inspired you today
to jump into orange wines. It is the perfect time of year to kind of mix into
your normal rotation of summer whites and summer rosés to kind of mix in some
orange wines and start to learn and of course if you’re in the Bay Area
make sure you swing by The Punchdown because this is one of the best spots
for a natural wine and orange wine that I’ve ever found and they also have
delicious food and a super cool chic atmosphere and so you know make sure to
stop by come say hi to Jenny if you’re in the Bay Area. But until next time, drink craft, drink local, and drink orange. Cheers!

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