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MARCH 2023/ ORANGE WINE

INTRO

Orange wine is often associated with the modern Natural Wine Movement. This has led many to believe that Orange wine is a product of the natural winemaking process and reflective of the styles and flavor profiles associated with natural wine. This is only partially true. Natural winemakers of the last 10-15 years were the ones adventurous enough to begin making Orange wines, even though there was no market placement or category at the time. However, the style is as old as wine itself. And, as Orange wine continues to grow in both production and popularity, we will see these wines being made in all countries using all kinds of production methods (ie: conventional, organic, natural, etc.)
So what is Orange wine? Skin macerated white wine: the juice, skins, stems, seeds of white grapes are pressed and left together to ferment. As compared to white wines which use simply the juice from white grapes, no skins. This is an old tradition of making wines that disappeared from many cultures as industrial practices took over, along with the impact of certain political moves that directed wine production towards mass consumption using modern equipment. 
Georgia is one of the true homes of Orange wine, with production going back at least 8,000 years. This country's conflict with what was the Soviet Union greatly threatened Georgian culture and folk traditions, which included the making of orange wine. There were similar challenges to the country of Slovenia and the Friuli region of northern Italy. As government and industry took over, the local traditions were shut down.
Fortunately, orange wine is not dead, but very much alive.
Here at Caravan we hold exploration of wine in high regard, often looking to challenge our palates, which in turn leads to the pleasures of curiosity. Orange wines can be a challenge to the palate, if only for the simple reason that they are unfamiliar. Not only are they unfamiliar to consumers, the category itself has only recently (say the last 15 years) entered the global wine market. While the wines can be made with familiar white grape varieties (chardonnay, pinot gris, verdejo, etc.), when something is made in a new way it can feel completely foreign. 

To get all the tasty benefits of drinking Orange wine, here are a few words of guidance when you open your bottles this month:

  1. Relax, breathe, smile
  2. Try not to judge the wine or category of wine in advance of your tasting experience.
  3. Because of the extended skin maceration, Orange wines can pick up slightly stronger aromatics, as well as a richer mouthfeel. Embrace the wine's dynamic character.
  4. Experiment with food pairings! Orange wines tend to have good structure and can handle a range of cuisine.
  5. Give it a 30 minute chill in the fridge to add a touch of cooling refreshment.
  6. Know that you are tasting a wine style from the cutting-edge present, to the ancient past of humanity.

Welcome to the wonderful world of O R A N G E !

WINE 1

WEISS & GRAU
Enderle & Moll
Germany, Baden
Grapes: Weißburgunder, Grauburgunder, Müller Thurgau

 

These wines hail from the southernmost region of Germany known as Baden. There, Enderle & Moll have been making natural wines since 2007 from very old (45-100 year) vines. This region is primarily known for making excellent red wine from the pinot noir varietal. The group at Enderle & Moll have always made wines in all colors: white, red, rosé, orange. Their expressions are bright, light and energetic. Enderle & Moll are part of the avant garde with regards to orange wine production. They did not jump on the orange wine bandwagon, they helped build the bandwagon by quietly making wines they enjoyed drinking. 
So, in the Weiss & Grau you will find a blend of Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) and Muller Thurgau. These grapes bring a perfect combination of rich but mellow acidity, ripe & full body qualities with notes of apple and almond. The grapes are fermented for 4 days on the skins before being pressed into stainless steel where the wine matures for 10 months. Lightly filtered and a small addition of sulfur at bottling. Everything is farmed organically and biodynamically from just a few hectares of land. All work in the vineyard as well as the cellar is done by hand. The wine you have in your hands was made by the winemaking team of just four people: Florian Moll and his partner Geraldine, Manfred Enderle, and Maxence Lecat.

 

WINE 2

THE FLOOD
Swick Wines
USA, Oregon & Washington
Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Auxerrois, Riesling
Joe Swick has been making wines in the Oregon & Washington area since 2013. He works with different growers in the region who are using organic and biodynamic practices. Joe experiments with both classic regional varieties like Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, as well as atypical grapes like Auxerrois, Verdelho and Touriga Nacional. He does very little to the wine besides a small addition of sulfur (sometimes) at bottling.
A wine built around the grape Gewurztraminer is appropriately titled The Flood. This grape provides heady aromatics of fruit and flowers that can often be gushing out of the glass and into your nose. With the addition of Chardonnay, this wine is well on its way to being full-bodied and quite round on the palate. Joe has included three other varieties that help to bring up the acidity and create a truly dynamic field blend wine. While you may be able to pick apart the palate and find some distinctive lychee fruit that is distinctive of Gewurztraminer, or some apple skin which can be associated with Riesling, the end effect of this wine is something greater than the sum of its parts. When in The Flood, it's best to just go with the flow.

WHAT DOES ORANGE TASTE LIKE? 



Thoughts from the Taste Curators: Abbey Cook and Lish Steiling

Given the color orange was actually named after the orange fruit, one could easily argue that orange tastes like well, orange - citrusy and juicy, devoured section by section after opening the peel with your fingernail, zesty aromas instantly hitting your nose. And it does taste like that, but for us at The Taste Curators, we have a broader range. It tastes like a sunset, starting from a pale peach to a sweet sungold tomato, a sharp cheddar to a deep butterscotch. There is a pep in orange’s step, and we like that you can taste a symphony of flavors from bitter to zippy all in one bite.  It also exudes luxury to us as we look to the fashion house Hermès where a rich orange is their signature color.  Orange wines indeed feel like a little luxury as well.  Perhaps it’s because there aren’t as many produced compared to the traditional white, rosé, and red wines. These unique wines often encompass a spectrum of flavors similar to that sunset. Like the color itself, orange wines can all at once be sweet, tangy, sharp, round, funky and fruity ending on the cleanest palate you have ever been left with. So go ahead and embrace orange! To us, the color and the wine has much more character than just the fruit.

The Taste Curators are a wife duo who have blended all o their passions into one project creating a delicious stew of food, fashion, and color.  You can read more of these multi sensory essays in their book series Palate/ Palette available at Caravan Wine Shop and their website.

A NOTE ON FOOD PAIRING
Orange Wines are incredibly versatile with regards to food pairing. It is hard to give a food-pairing generalization of an entire category of wine. We need to honor the fact that the wines of this style can have great variation and need to be explored with patience and curiosity. But we can give some guidance for what to think about when matching food and orange wine.
It is entirely possible to drink only orange wine over the course of an entire meal...and enjoy every sip of every glass.  Serving temperature is important: for both of the wines in this month's club, we'd suggest a 30 minute chill in the fridge. Also, when you decide to open the bottles, give them a quick decant. A quick blast of oxygen will help these wines open up to reveal their full character.
With the wine in your glass and you at the table, consider any of the following food items:
Raw Oysters
Spicy Indian or Thai
Rich, Creamy & Cheesy Gnocchi and Pasta
Pork & Vegetable Stew
Desserts that are mildly sweet: Carrot Cake, Poached Pears, etc.
Cheese & Charcuterie Boards
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Our aim is to give a glimpse into the many roles wine has played throughout history.  All subjects mentioned deserve more attention and research and we encourage you to keep exploring.  We are only here to pop the cork.
Many Thanks, Caravan Wine Shop

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