Grub Street published an article today by Matthew Latkiewicz that sheds some light on orange wines. They are essentially white wines made by implementing a certain production method common in red wine making. Wine gets its color from skin contact during maceration, the period during winemaking before fermentation takes place (skin contact may carry over to the fermentation process). Long maceration is more common in red wine because red berry skins have more to offer the finished product.
One of many reasons why these wines are unique is because they are often created through natural, organic, and biodynamic winemaking methods. It is a trend that continues to gain momentum in both New World and Old World winemaking countries. The popularity of these wines has risen over the past few years and restaurants have started dedicating small sections on their wine lists to these peculiar favorites. Krista Voisin added five orange wines to her list when she was the Beverage Director at Roberta's. Osteria Morini has a few and Digest NY happened to have one when we were there for "Industry Night" last Monday. In keeping up with the trend, let us tell you about it.
The Guccione Brothers make Girgis in Sicily from an indigenous grape called Cataratto. It's from 20-year-old vines and proves to be well balanced; showing signs of youth and the potential to age. The tannins, a result of the skin contact that characterizes orange wines, are subtle and integrated with the wine's natural, bright acidity. The wine ferments and ages in stainless steel; there is no oak influence. You're able to get a great sense of Sicily's most widely planted white varietal in a unique wine that expresses the islands terroir. The dry, herbaceous profile of this wine may be a result of the dry, brown soil the grapes grow in, or the farms proximity to the Meditteranean. It could also be the Chamomile and Echinacea plants Francesco and Manfredi Guccione have growing on their small plot of land just south of Palermo.