In part three of The UnUsual Suspects, Languedoc-Roussillon wine expert, Decanter World Wine Awards judge and Wright Wine Company wine geek, Gemma Crangle, delves into wines beyond your standard white or red.
Part three: Red, white – and shades of pink and orange too..
We all love a glass of pink stuff in situ on holiday or during warm, lingering summer evenings at home – and long may this easy sipping continue. Alongside this, in recent years, orange wine has hit the wine world and, despite having sneaked on to the lists of trendy wine bars, it is now, in our opinion, ready for its true moment of glory.
Don’t be fooled by its confusing name: Orange Wine is not made from oranges but from grapes and has, in fact, nothing at all to do with oranges at all. Its name denotes the colour of the wine, which is made from white grape varieties whose skins and seeds are left in contact with the juice (as they are in red winemaking) for varying periods of time from days to months, resulting in a wine which can be anything from pale gold, to amber or bronze in colour. This low intervention winemaking process is very natural and uses little or no additives, natural yeasts and minimal sulphites. Because of this, the wines taste very different from regular white wines and have a sour taste and nuttiness from oxidation. The process dates back thousands of years to ancient Georgia but has only seen a relatively recent resurgence over the last twenty years.
Think of it as the red wine version of a white wine, the marmite of the wine world, a real room divider. It has the acidity of a white wine with the structure, some of the tannin and intense aromas of a red wine and it’s precisely these big, bold flavours that make orange wines so incredibly food friendly. Pair it with equally strong flavours that are normally a nightmare with wine – spicy nutty curries, Moroccan spices & tagines, mature cheese, you name it, orange wine can handle it.
We urge you to embrace your inner hipster and give orange a wine a try this summer. Indeed, our Romanian suggestion holds up very favourably in terms of price and quality against some of the much more expensive alternatives on the market. Try this (whilst ignoring the orange segment on the label, just to avoid confusion):
Solara Orange, Natural Wine Domaine Viile Timisului 2018, £10.00
Grape Varieties: 51% Feteasca Regala, 19% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Chardonnay, 15% Tamioasa Romaneasca
Tasting Notes: Candied apricots on the nose, slightly herbal, fresh and fruity but with a powerful structure and full body.
To go back to rosé and its infinite shades of pink…..where do we start? Let’s shake off all the prejudices, cast aside the iconic Portuguese Mateus Rosé with its kitsch lamp base bottle and give this pink stuff the page space it deserves.
Almost always associated with holidays, sunshine, frivolity and blue skies, rosé can be altogether more serious prospect than you may think.
It is not, as some people believe, (apart from in Champagne) made by blending red and white wines, but rather there are two permitted ways to make rosé: the saignée method and skin contact. The former involves bleeding off some juice after red grapes have been pressed: that juice becomes a lightly tinted wine, while what is left becomes a more concentrated red. Skin contact, or maceration, involves leaving the juice and its skins and pulp in contact for a time (hours, usually) so that some of the flavour and colour from the solid matter seeps into the wine. These methods produce pink wines of various hues, concentration and depth of colour.
Rosés are versatile; they can be made from any red grape varieties and their resulting style can be anything from the pale, delicate Provencal style rosés to the much deeper crimson and fuller bodied Tavel rosés from the Southern Rhone or Cabernet Sauvignon Rosés from all over the world. Despite common misconception, they are not always light and frivolous tipples, au contraire, they can be serious food wines; they are not always sweet, in fact very rarely even off-dry; they are not just a Summer drink and not just for women but can, indeed, warm up the greyest of Winter evenings for men and women alike. Are they always cheap? Hell no, not always…unless you consider Garrus Rosé from Château d’Esclans at £90 a bottle to be cheap! And that’s before we’ve even entered the world of rosé Champagnes.
So cast aside any prejudices, grab a glass and immerse yourselves in the vast spectrum of colour and flavour that is rosé wine.
- Crémant de Limoux Rosé, Émotion, Maison Antech, France 2015 £16.00
- Wiston Estate, Rosé, Steyning, West Sussex, England N.V. £26.50
Varying Shades of still rosé
- Rosé, Pierre de Taille, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, French Provincial 2018 £11.50 – classic pale, light, fresh, Provencal rosé
- Bardolino, Chiaretto (Rosé), Monte del Fra, Veneto, Italy 2017/18 £12.50
- “50 Nuances de Gris Rosé”, Coteaux de Vendômois, Loire 2017 £15.00
- Etna Rosato, (Nerello Mascalase), Cottanera, Sicily, Italy 2017 £17.00
- Classic Rosé, Massaya, Bekaa Valley, ORGANIC, Lebanon 2017/18 £ 17.50
- Rosé, Prieuré de Montezargues, ORGANIC, Rhône 2017 £19.30 – An excellent and classic example of a deeper, darker Tavel Rosé
- Rose of Virginia, Charles Melton, Barossa Valley – Australia 2014/18 £23.50 – the darkest of our rosés
- Rosé, Domaine Tempier, Bandol, French Provincial 2016/17 £27.50
- Brachetto d’Acqui, D.O.C.G. Alasia 2017 5.5% £9.00 – The perfect match to Summer Pudding