Orange wines – so named because of their colour rather than their contents – are white wines made using the same principles and methods as red. The skins are left on, producing tannins and leaving the wine spicier, herbier and drier than most. Made by small, dedicated producers, most of them don’t come cheap, but their fame is spreading.
1. Tbilvino Qvevris 2011: £9, marksandspencer.com
M&S has entered the market with a medium-priced Georgian wine produced by fermenting the grape juice and skins in large clay jars known as Qvevri. Dry, spicy and a good match for a seafood platter, the price tag also makes it a good one to start with.
2. Cos Pithos Bianco 2012: £23.50, highburyvintners.co.uk
A Sicilian wine from 20-year-old vines fermented in terra cotta amphorae. Lots of depth, with hints of apricots and lime. Goes well with chicken or tapas.
3. Serragghia Bianco Zibibbo: £55, ottolenghi.co.uk
“More than organic”, says the label, which reveals the ethos of this Italian vineyard where the grapes are handpicked and horses are used instead of tractors. Left to ferment in clay amphorae it is bottled, unfiltered, to produce a deeply satisfying and elegant wine.
4. Weingut Sepp & Maria Muster Erde 2012: £37.95, slurp.co.uk
Everything about this hand-picked and biodynamic Austrian wine is distinctive, from the pottery bottle to its beautiful amber colour. Complex and full of depth with overtones of peach and melon.
5. Andert Ruländer 2012: £13.88, lescaves.co.uk
A refreshing Austrian wine that slightly salty on the palate with noticeable tannins and a smoky finish. The grapes are macerated for five days on the skins and then fermented in 500 litre oak barrels.
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6. Dario Princic Vino Bianco Jakot 2011: £29.67, winebear.com
Macerated for 20 days with the skins on then aged for two years in vats, this has a more delicate and understated taste than most but still packs a spicy punch with flavours of dried fruit and herbs.
7. Foradori Fontanasanta Nosiola 2012: £29.99, slurp.co.uk
Another amphora wine from the Trentino region of Italy and made by winemaker Elisabetti Foradori from the Nosiola grape that only grows in that region. Tastes tangy and pleasantly acidic on first opening but then improves day by day as it becomes richer and more complex.
8. Castagna Harlequin 2013: £32.99, lescaves.co.uk
A golden orange offering from Down Under. This aromatic biodynamic Australian wine is a blend of Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Viognier and combines a freshness and grapey acidity with a fruity and spicy aftertaste. Will benefit from being uncorked or even decanted before tasting.
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9. Ageno La Stoppa 2010: £26.50, ottolenghi.co.uk
Regarded as one of Italy’s benchmark orange wines this wine from Lombardy is made from Malvasia di Candia and Urtrugo grapes which are macerated on their skins for a month to produce an elegant, sherry-coloured wine with hints or herbs and spiced apples.
10. Ramaz Nikoladze Tsolikouri 2013: £21, winebear.com
This comes from a small vineyard in western Georgia where the vines are up to 100 years old. The grape juice is put into one qvevri (or amphora) for six months to ferment and then racked up in a second for up to a year. A spicy floral finish with hints of dried fruit.
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11. Tinajas de La Mata: £17, ottolenghi.co.uk
A complex orange wine from the Mediterranean coast of Spain where the grapes and skins are put in clay amphorae, called tinajas. As befits a seabound wine there’s a slight saltiness combined with floral and lemony notes. This is one to try with seafood.
12. Eschenhof Holzer The Orange 2013: £29.99, redsquirrelwine.com
Made from a rare and obscure Austrian variety of grape called Roter Vetliner, this is intense, spicy and almost peppery, with honey and nut flavours that linger long after the first sip. Only 300 bottles have been made of this 2013 vintage, so get in quick.
13. Dinavolino Bianco 2013: £17, winebear.com
Another Italian wine made from three known varieties of grape plus one even the grower doesn’t know much about. Four months on the skin have produced a lovely, intense and deeply aromatic wine that’s worth savouring.
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For those who want an entrée without paying the full price of admission, the best buy is the reliable M&S Tbilvino Qvevris. Once you’ve acquired the taste, sample the glorious Foradori Fontanasanta for a more complex and richer glassful or Castagna Harlequin from Australia for an intense blast of spicy Down Under sunshine. The biodynamic Erde from Weingut Sepp & Maria Muster is also distinctive – from its fruity aromas to its pottery bottle.
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