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Nov Advocate 2017

THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 6 N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 7 847 searching for a more ‘back-to-basics’ methodology. Radikon felt that his Ribolla Gialla, a thick skinned but not very aromatic white variety, had more to give. The revelation came in 1995—lengthy skin contact, just like Stanko’s grandfather had used, was the way to unlock its power. (His son) Saša Radikon reflects on how much potential was lost through not using this technique: ‘For years, it’s as if we were just making rosé from the grapes of Château Pétrus.’1 The term “orange wine” is relatively new for this ancient wine-making technique. It was coined in 2004 by David Harvey, a wine importer. The article continues: Harvey explains: ‘I didn’t set out to invent a word, I just used it naturally and it stuck.’ Some prefer the moniker ‘amber wines’, while others even question the need for a specific term. Saša Radikon, winemaker at his family’s estate in Friuli Collio, confirms, ‘The name may not be ideal, but this style needs its own category. If customers order a white wine and it turns out to be this surprising dark colour, they might not be so happy.’ He pushes the definition further: ‘For me, a proper orange wine must be fermented with wild yeasts and without temperature control, otherwise you’re muting the very characteristics you want to extract from the skins.’2 So how is an orange wine made in these modern times when winemaking processes are so carefully controlled to ensure a consistent product that consumers expect and appreciate? Well, by throwing a lot of that control out and going au naturel, as they say in some sun-worshipping circles. As noted earlier, grapes are crushed whole and macerated (soaked) and then fermented on their skins, pits and sometimes stems before the wine is gently pressed off. Most often this fermentation is done in stainless steel fermenters, but a number of producers are now using concrete fermentation tanks (akin to the clay vessels of bygone days), including Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland, whose wine is reviewed below. Some are fined and filtered but those made “naturally” are not. The technique is gaining popularity around the world. In addition to northeastern Italy in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, where they use the indigenous grapes of the region, including Sauvignon Vert (Friulano), Ribolla Gialla and Pinot Grigio, it is made just across the border in the region of Goriška Brda (“Gore-eesh-kah Barda”) in Slovenia, which as noted has a long history of orange winemaking. The Jura region near Burgundy in France is also home to a number of producers who make nutty-flavoured tart wines called Vin Jaune and Côtes du Jura, which both use the oxidative style of winemaking with a relatively rare variety called Savagnin Blanc (not to be confused with Sauvignon Blanc) and sometimes Chardonnay. While these wines use a slightly different winemaking method (pressing off the skins), the wines have a similar taste to orange wines.


Nov Advocate 2017
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