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Red, White, Pink, Orange?


There is a new colour on the block in the world of wine, Orange!! So what is it and where does it come from. Well, quite simply orange wine is white that has spent some time macerating with the grape skins; effectively red wine making from white grapes. All white grapes have pigments and tannins in the skin but they are normally removed and just the juice is fermented. Back in the day, far flung places like Georgia and Armenia always made white wine using the skins. Not only do they make fascinating wines which go well with the type of hearty food stuffs they serve in these Eurasian countries, the skin contact also adds structure and natural preservatives to the wine so no need to add sulphur. Grapes used include Rkatsiteli (Georgia), Chardonnay, Malvasia, Vitovska, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Ribolla Gialla, Friulano and Chenin Blanc. Now they are making orange wine all over the world, France, Spain, South Africa, America, Croatia but some of the best examples are from Italy and more specifically Friuli.  Check out Radikon and Skerk!

What are they like?

Unique! Not white, not red, not really rose, some are orangier than others and the flavours can vary a lot depending on the grapes used, the time of skin maceration and the terroir. They can be fruity, orangy, spicey, earthy, and herbaceous but all have a distinctive tannic grip and richness of texture. They are superb with all manner of foods and stand up to strong flavours like curry. Orange wines are eye opening and although at first can seem unusual they quickly seduce the drinker to the point where all you want is orange!

Orange wine and Biodynamics.

Many of the great exponents of orange wine are also natural/biodynamic producers. The two things seem to go hand in hand as it takes creativity as a wine maker to be both biodynamic and to make a good orange. Skin contact helps when using low or no sulphur and super healthy, zero chemical grapes are essential to end up with healthy orange wine.

So maybe take a look at our orange wine section on the website or pop into the shop and pick up a bottle to try.  The future's bright, the future's orange!!

Rob Bagot


Orange wine from the South! Orange wine from the South!
Radikon 3 months skin maceration, amazing wine! Radikon 3 months skin maceration, amazing wine!

Featured producer – Radikon 

Stanko, the first in Friuli to revive orange wine! Stanko, the first in Friuli to revive orange wine!

Stanko Radikon is a true Maverick. Although many attribute the revival of orange wines in Friuli to Josko Gravner, it is Stanko who first started making long skin contact wines with white grapes in the region back in early 90s. He went Biodynamic in 95 and stopped using sulphites altogether in 2002.
His 11 hectare vineyard is situated in Oslavia at the Slovenian border and is planted with local and more well known varieties. Ribolla Gialla, Friulano (used to be called Tocai), Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Pignolo and more recently Pinot Noir!  Stanko ferments his long ageing white wines on their skins for 3 – 4 months and then ages them for a further 3 years in large botti and a year in bottle before considering selling them. Generally the wines are released around 7 or 8 years after the harvest and the complexity and flavour in these nectars is incredible. They are wines which continue to age in bottle for years and years despite no sulphite and they have more structure than a lot of red wines. They are bottled in half litre and litre bottles with very narrow necks and small corks to reduce the micro-oxygenation and slow the ageing process. His are the Rolls-Royce of orange wines and not for the faint hearted but given some familiarity with orange wines, they truly tantalize the palate with a myriad of subtle complexities and flavours.

As an entry into orange, Stanko’s son Sasha has developed two shorter aged wines from Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay which spend only 12 days approx on the skins. Still made with zero sulphur and still with plenty of orange wine character, these younger wines have immense freshness and easy drinkability. They are a fantastic and easy path into the orange world!

Have a browse of Radikon’s wines on-line!

Pinot Grigio 2013 750ml
Slatnik 2013 750ml
Jakot 2007/08 500ml
Oslavje 2007/08 500ml
Ribolla 2007/08 500ml
Ribolla 2007 1 litre