White grapes usually have their juice separated from their skins prior to fermentation, thereby avoiding additional color, tannins and other flavor components found in the skins (phenols). In recent years, there has been interest in producing white wines more like red wines, wherein the grape juice is in contact with the skins and seeds during fermentation.
The term used for these wines is “orange,” though visually their colors often range from golden, amber, peach, rust, or even brown. The wines have more of the texture, tannins, and body usually associated with a red wine. Flavors can include fresh-cut fruit, spice, and herbs, along with tangy, smoky, nutty, and savory characteristics.
Skin-fermented wines are not a new type of wine. This winemaking practice dates back hundreds of years in Slovenia and the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy, and back thousands of years in the Republic of Georgia. The wines in Georgia were often aged in large clay pots called amphorae (qvervi) which were buried in the earth.
Grapes like Rkatsiteli and Pinot Gris have traditionally been used in this type of winemaking, though any white grape can be made into wine via this method.
This month, City Vino’s wine club selection includes the Merkin Vineyard Malvasia Shinola Orancia 2017 from Arizona. The wine is made from the Malvasia Bianca grape, and the juice is fermented in contact with the skins for 10 days in stainless steel tanks. The resulting wine has deep aromas of tropical fruit, white flowers and honeysuckle. It is medium-bodied, with flavors of honeydew melon and a touch of orange zest. We will be sharing this wine as a bonus during our weekly tasting on Saturday, March 9th, 2019.
More information on our monthly wine club and its benefits and perks is available here: City Vino's Wine Cru.