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For the past few years orange and natural wines have taken the attention and praise from the world of wine experts and sommeliers. Be careful, however, before you dive into this latest trend.
The aromas can range from heavy stone fruit to deep floral to tea-like characteristics.
Orange wine has a long history of being produced in regions like Italy’s Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Slovenia and France’s Jura. Orange is a wine made from white grapes that have had the skins and seeds left in during maceration and fermentation. This leaves pigments and aromatic qualities normally found in white wine, and the color is often amber or orange toned. The aromas can range from heavy stone fruit to deep floral to tea-like characteristics. These wines are cool but funky and can age quite well.
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Natural wine’s true meaning is all over the board. Essentially, it’s a movement to make wine with no intervention at all—no added yeast, sugar, preservation methods, chemistry, technology or science. Simply put, you pick the grapes, crush them, and see what happens. Now there are many approaches to this style and movement, and there are no laws dictating one decisive method. In truth, many of the world’s top boutique wine makers and wineries make their wines “naturally” with minimal or no intervention. In my view this requires tremendous knowledge and care to do well.
Many of the hot new natural wines are fun and interesting for sure, but technically flawed. There are some with secondary fermentation in the bottle, reduced sulfur, bacterial issues and excessive oxidization. So, dive a little deeper with research and trust your palate.
Here are a select few of the good-to-great natural and orange wines:
LE MONDE PINOT GRIGIO, FRIULI-VENEZIA GIULIA 2017
$19.99 to 24.99
Le Monde was founded in 1970 by the Pistioni family and was taken over by the Maccan family in 2008. The Maccan family’s hope is to take the wines to the highest potential possible and show the world the beauty and sophistication of Friuli.
TASTING NOTES: This wine has wonderful white fruit and white flowers, it’s fresh and balanced.
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SCARBOLO RAMATO PINOT GRIGIO, FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA 2018
$24.99 to 29.99
Valter Scarbolo is a serious Pinot Grigio producer. His wines are traditional without being misunderstood. They are approachable but ready to be taken seriously. Scarbolo’s desire is to emulate Pinot Grigio and make it a wine that is appreciated and desired on all levels.
TASTING NOTES: This wine has a pop of pomegranate with rose petals, blood orange, wild berries and white tea.
JOLIE-LAIDE TROUSSEAU GRIS
$38.99 to 44.99
Scott Schultz is a one-man show for Jolie-Laide. He makes roughly around 500 cases each year, and they are some of the most unique wines made in California.
TASTING NOTES: Summer melon, stone fruit and white tea.
CADUCEUS CELLARS JUDITH’S BLOCK MALVASIA BIANCA, JEROME, ARIZONA
$84.99 to 94.99
Caduceus Cellars is a family-owned winery specializing in making world-class wine in Arizona. It is owned by Maynard James Keenan of the progressive metal band Tool. This wine has limited availability (or you can join the Velvet Slipper Club at the winery.)
TASTING NOTES: This is an amazingly expressive wine with orange citrus and a light passion fruit. It’s very delicate and well balanced.
ARNOT-ROBERTS, GAMAY, EL DORADO, CALIFORNIA
$30.99 to 39.00
Arnot-Roberts is the leader in California natural for good reason. The wines are clean, balanced and powerful. This wine is made from higher-elevation grapes using whole cluster fermentation. Rai Parr started making wines from this vineyard in 2011, and Arnot-Roberts has continued.
TASTING NOTES: A very expressive wine with packed, focused bright fruit and a medium structure. It can be enjoyed with a large variety of food.
Dirty & Rowdy
DIRTY & ROWDY WINERY “FAMILIAR MOURVÈDRE, CALIFORNIA
$30 to 45
Dirty & Rowdy Family Winery’s primary focus is to produce simple and pure wines that express the terroir in an honest and fresh way. They see themselves as “middle-men” or “facilitators,” playing as minimal a role as possible, letting the wines speak for themselves.
TASTING NOTES: The wine has herbaceous notes with bright red fruit and is very balanced.
DIRTY & ROWDY WINERY SEMILLON, YOUNTVILLE
$35 to 45
TASTING NOTES: Some high tone lemon, light fennel, textured tannins and a balanced finish with stone fruit at Dirty & Rowdy Winery.
Mark Tarbell is an award-winning chef and owner of Tarbell’s since 1994, along with The Tavern, The Wine Store, and Tarbell’s Catering. He is the Emmy-award-winning host of the PBS show “Plate and Pour” and an Iron Chef America Winner. He was nominated Best Chef Southwest by the James Beard Foundation and Food & Wine magazine named Tarbell’s Best Restaurant. Tarbell studied in Paris at the Ecole du Cuisine La Varenne where he earned a Grande Diplôme d’Etude Culinaire. While in Paris, he also studied wine at Steven Spurrier’s l’Academie du Vin. In addition to being an expert and irreverent food and wine personality, he is extraordinarily charitable in his community, and we look forward to his Tasting Notes on iconiclife.com monthly.