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"Orange" wines

There are some white wines made by the technique of leaving freshly crushed juice in contact with the grape skins for a prolonged period. I've seen this type of wine called "Orange", although I know that the wine can be any sort of color in shades ranging from pink, to ruddy cider to a vivid orange.

I’ve had several vintages of Massavecchia Ariento as well as Radikon Oslavje and Ribolla Gialla. Gravner seems to be a popular choice, though I've yet to have one that I liked. My new favorite is La Stoppa Ageno, when I can find it.

What other “orange” wines are you enjoying?

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  1. The only one I've tried rocked my world: Movia "Lunar" (I had the 2007 vintage). It is a bizarre wine, made with as little intervention as possible (grapes weren't destemmed or crushed), and comes across as slightly oxidized, but in a complex and fascinating way.

    2 Replies
    1. re: nwinkler

      The Massavecchia as well as the Radikon wines have that oxidized quality too. Or they give one the perception of oxidation while still having a freshness to them? I recently had a bottle of 1996 Ariento that seemed youthful.

      1. re: nwinkler

        I would not call the Lunar slightly oxidized. It's entirely oxidized! The entire Movia line is very cool.

      2. La Stoppa, deftly run by Elena Pantaleoni and cellar master Giulio Armani.
        I still have a few bottles left of their amazing Colli Piacentini Malvasia Passito Vigna del Volta 2004.
        Just wondering: why both Gambero Rosso 2010 & Duemilavini 2010 omit any mention of the Ageno? Because it wasn't submitted? Or they just don't have an icon for "orange" ?

        1. Had the 2005 Zidarich Vitovska about a year ago. Although I enjoyed it, I'm not sure I'd pay the ~$50 price tag for it. These wines have their place. But I've yet to fully appreciate where that is.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Brad Ballinger

            Me too. I don't get why Zidarich Vitovska is a wine that geeks fawn over. I agree with you, I don't think it's that good for the money.

          2. I love the blend Damijan makes. Also Paolo Bea Arboreas, but this is $$$. Great value = Coenobbium.

            3 Replies
            1. re: whiner

              Have you tried the Rusticum? I think harder to find. A more powerful version.

              1. re: whiner

                I have both of the Bea whites, but have not tried yet. Any suggestions of what to pair with? Thanks! Love the Sagrantino!!

              2. Have drank the following in the past 3 months...

                Movia Ribolla (not really orange)
                Joly Coulée de Serrant
                Emidio Pepe Trebbiano d'Abruzzo
                Lopez de Heredia Rosé

                Lots of fun stuff.

                3 Replies
                1. re: mengathon

                  Surely Coulée de Serrant is that colour because of the botrytis which affects most of his vineyard?

                  1. re: Steve_K

                    While botrytis does affect most of his vineyard, depending on the vintage, sometimes only 10-20% of the final wine is botrytised fruit. I have tried the 04, as well as the 95, which actually had a label of "moelleux," something I had never seen before on any kind of Savennières. I think you're right, botrytis does affect the color, as Bergerie and Clos Sacrés are not so dark, but the intentional oxidation is definitely a big part as well.

                    Compare a young Coteaux du Layon or a Quarts de Chaume of the same vintage, without the oxidation, but with the botrytised fruit, and the color is dramatically different.

                  2. re: mengathon

                    Not sure I'd put Joly in the "orange" wine category.

                  3. I have to admit this is the first time I've ver heard the term 'orange wine', but a bit of Googling made me wonder why, as Wikipedia covers it and I found several other references. Jancis Robinson, however, doesn't cover it in her wine 'bible' The Oxford Companion to Wine, which is my 'go to' source.

                    My question.................by definition, is White Zinfandel an orange wine? Or is the term reserved for more 'serious' wine? If it's a more appetizing question............ are all rosés 'orange' wines?

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Midlife

                      no. Roses are not "orange"as I use the term.

                      1. re: whiner

                        I've heard some reds referred to as "orange." Particularly Arbois wines. Now those I like.

                        1. re: Brad Ballinger

                          Hmm. The French describe the colour of some Arbois reds as *corail* (which is also the name/colour of, for example, scallop roe), not *orange*.

                      2. re: Midlife

                        I don't believe a white zin or a rose' would be considered an "orange" wine, per my original post. Think of normally white wines with skin contact...lots of it.

                        1. re: wineguy7

                          wineguy, I think it has as much or more to do with intentional oxidation. (eg. I've had SBs with extensive skin contact that I would not classify as "orange".)

                          1. re: whiner

                            I understand your point, Whiner. It seems that "orange" wines, while made in an oxidative manner are not all oxidized in the way we would normally use the term. What could explain the freshness and immediacy of the 1996 Ariento I recently had? This is one of those wine-related enigmas that fascinates me.

                          2. re: wineguy7

                            Got it. I misunderstood. We're talking white-skinned grapes here.

                            Are there American-made 'orange wines'?

                            1. re: Midlife

                              I have read that Scholium Project makes some wines like these. I have yet to taste one, though.

                        2. I've really enjoyed the Radikon and Massa Vecchia wines I've encountered, real *vins de contemplation* as the French say. The MV whites I've seen are labelled Bianco, though. Is the Ariento a separate bottling?

                          All these wines seem to benefit from a hour or so in the carafe and from being served at something approaching cool room temperature. According to the Quebec importer, MV's winemaker Fabrizio Niccolaini suggests veal with mushrooms as a pairing for the Bianco and says the wine's tannins make it hard to pair with fish and shellfish.

                          Will keep an eye peeled for the Ageno. Am in love with La Stoppa's reds.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: carswell

                            I am not aware of the current offerings of Massavecchia. Perhaps he is not making the Ariento any longer. I have had '96, 97, '98 and 2000 vintage versions of this wine. All were apparently made from Vermentino.

                          2. The SF Chronicle did an article on this a few months ago:


                            3 Replies
                            1. re: pamf

                              Also, an interesting post on yellow tasting in cellartracker.com:


                              "The high acidity and tannic nature of most of them may make them difficult to enjoy in their youth (and the rather unstable nature of a few of them makes one wonder how well they will age). I think they're pretty tricky to pair with food as well. "

                              1. re: RicRios

                                This was a nice thread.
                                The name 'orange' wine was dreamed up in 2004, as until that point they were called 'macerated whites' which seemed a bit technical, and did not fit in with the naming program of the other colours of wine.
                                In 2006 L'Ortolan restaurant in UK started their orange section. In April 2008 Jancis Robinson MW used the term in her FT writing up of Frank Cornelissen, then Galloni in TWA by Oct.2009. In the summer of 2009 there was the big NYC tasting at Convivio written up by Asimov, Feiring and Iverson. My piece for the World of Fine Wine came out in issue 31 of 2011.
                                The colour appears to come principally from the skins of the ripe, amber 'white' grapes, which confuses some people into assuming that oxidation is at work, which I do not believe is the case. Though producers who practice poor hygiene, long elevage and/or no SO2 are more likely to see the effect of oxidation creep in as well.
                                And yes, Massa Vecchia are still going, and are a committee member of Grupo Vini Veri of Italy. The white is no longer pure Vermentino, but is very lovely.

                            2. Dario Princic Bianco Trebez (Friuli, Italy) - not 100% sure on the vintage but fairly confident it was 2007. Expensive, but incredible texture.

                              1. Bumping that thread...

                                I tasted (1 glass) the "Meditazione" from the Channing Daughters (Long Island, NY) which was very good.

                                Drank it with some smoked sturgeon.

                                I think it can be a good introductory Orange wine for people who want to get into it (compared to Radikon, for example).

                                Quite muscat-ish on the nose, but dry in the mouth and quite tanic.

                                It's a blend of many grapes and is quite "équlibré" (leveled?).


                                1. 2004 Gravner Friuli Bianco Breg Anfora.

                                  Poetically described in DUEMILAVINI 2009, p.582:

                                  "È del color dell' ambra. In una sorta di incantevole caos olfattivo, in cui la ricerca non è tanto un' ispezione per scovare il celato, quanto la focalizzazione degli elementi di un insieme compatto e armonioso. Affiorano albicocche disidratate e loto, asparago e timo, salvia e arancia, biscotti al burro e zafferano, mimosa e nocciola."

                                  Duly decanted 24 hrs in a Baccarat carafe.

                                  Caveat emptor: the Gravner totally stained the Baccarat crystal. Some residual stain remained even after 2 nights spent in cleansing w/3 Alconox Alcotabs.